Marcia’s Law – It Will Get Better
“Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood.”
-Coretta Scott King
I could tell she was nervous. Her eyes…darting about, her face flushed. But she sat; quietly composed, waiting to tell her story…her hands folded neatly in her lap; nails polished a soft pretty pink.
She related that at thirteen she was sent to her Uncle to learn how to be a man. So began years of torment and torture as she tried desperately to meet the familial and cultural standards imposed upon her. She was teased, beaten, and eventually, banished.
She fled the country; chased by her own family intent on killing her. She shamed them; disgracing them because she knew she was, not male, as her body proclaimed, but female, as her spirit and soul dictated. She went from country to country seeking asylum trying, as best she could, to fit in, dressing and acting like a man. Until one day, while out shopping, she was arrested by the “moral police.” The charge; she looked too effeminate.
Jail and more beatings and only a stroke of luck and the kindness of strangers led her to Chicago. She has, recently, begun the transition process and feels safe here…safer, anyway, than she has ever felt before.
But is she really?
Recently, Preacher Sean Harris addressed a congregation saying that if a “male” child acts too effeminate or a “female” acts too butch, it is perfectly fine for the parent to be violent with that child. He states that, “the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch” (Queer News).
And it’s not only extremist religious leaders who openly discriminate and perpetuate persecution. Majority Republicans are writing their own version of the Violence Against Women Act to exclude LGBT individuals, ensuring that they would not receive protection under the law for domestic abuse.
On my own block, I have witnessed hatred and bigotry. Without provocation, a neighbor pronounced that “gays who get AIDS deserve to die.”
I know that we Americans have a long history of discrimination to overcome. But I believe we can change. And, it is people like Dan Savage, syndicated journalist and creator of the “It Gets Better” Project who are in the forefront of that change. In a recent presentation at Elmhurst College, Savage addressed many issues. But it isn’t so much WHAT he said that impressed me, although it was great. It was HOW he said it that awed me. He spoke not only with clarity, vision, and compassion, but also with dignity and conviction. He made it very clear that he is NOT a victim. He made it very clear too that LGBTQ individuals must not be victimized either. And it is this very self-assuredness that give me the confidence to think there is a chance for change in this country.
Dan Savage does not apologize for who he is. In fact, he is a symbol for ALL people who believe in the inalienable right to be who they are without fear of reprisal. The religious extremists, the political opportunists, the neighborhood bullies cannot touch Savage’s faith in his right to be who he is. They cannot refute his demand for respect, and that he and all LGBTQ individuals take their rightful places in society as equals. The ignorant and bigoted may try, and sometimes, they may win a round. But ultimately, those who hate cannot refute the truth.
We congratulate ourselves that the torture of LGBTQ individuals is relegated to third world countries. But, it is clear we still have a long way to go for acceptance and equality in THIS country. Dan Savage and those brave individuals who came before him are paving the way to that future. I know it won’t happen overnight. I know there will be setbacks. I know that people like the Preacher, the political exclusionists, my bigoted neighbor will always exist, but the momentum of the movement is upon us, and we must capitalize on it.
I look forward to a day when our country has changed enough to embrace ALL individuals as equal. When that day comes, and it will, we will all be able to experience Dan Savage’s level of confidence. And when that happens, we will truly be able to say, “It HAS gotten better.”
…And I’m just a mom who loves her son…