“I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.”
-Ralph Ellison Invisible Man
By Marcia Prichason
I am the designated shopper in our household. Yes, that’s right; as quite possibly the only woman in America who abhors shopping malls and thinks retail stores are designed to trick people into buying things they don’t need, can’t use, and won’t wear, I do the shopping. Most of the time, I manage to shop on line. Unfortunately, there are times I cannot. Since I’ve not quite graduated to home delivery, I still have to go to the store for groceries, toothpaste, socks, shampoo, and laundry detergent.
So on a recent weekday morning I dragged myself to a big box store attempting to find the cheapest priced dental floss, toothpaste, and soap, purchase them, and get out as quickly as possible. I have learned that the longer I stay in that environment, the more likely I am to spend more money.
As usual, I pushed my cart assertively, avoiding any eye contact with other patrons. On my way to the checkout counter, I saw two women discussing the bolts of fabric they held in their hands. I suddenly noticed their clothing and realized that the women were from the Mideast. And, as I approached, it seemed to me that the women became increasingly nervous. In various ways, they tried to make themselves invisible; hiding behind the fabric they held in their arms, lowering their eyes, and stepping back so I could make clear passage down the aisle.
Since it was just those two women and me in the aisle, it slowly dawned on me; these women were afraid. How strange it was that they moved away silently, gracefully, furtively and cast their eyes downward. Their actions telegraphed very clearly that they wanted to avoid any type of confrontation…
…Because, that’s what they expected. Their appearance, which was vastly different from most people in that store, must have engendered some pretty strange looks and maybe some not so friendly encounters in the past…So, I smiled. I saw them. I recognized them for who they were; two women choosing fabric to make clothes. And, they smiled back.
Suddenly, the threat was past. They went on with their fabric hunt, and I went to the cash register. This simple act of acknowledgment reminded me that, no matter how different we look, what our belief systems are, or where our traditions come from, we all need to see each other clearly. When we do that, we understand that ALL human beings deserve to be visible.
And one of the problems with the Republican platform this election year is that they want to make LGBTQ individuals INVISIBLE once again. They wish gay people would just go away. Since they will not voluntarily disappear, they want to banish them back into the closet.
The closet is a place where gays and lesbians, transgender and bi-sexual people, and anyone else who doesn’t conveniently conform to their bias of who is created in God’s image should go. The closet means those invisible people can be ignored, abused, demonized, and discriminated against. The Republicans of today just can’t stand it that gay people are now actually part of the fabric of American life. It was SO much easier to use gay people as scapegoats when their families, friends, and allies didn’t stand up for them, when LGBTQ people ran scared and scuttled back into those dark hiding places.
Not so easy now.
Today, the liberal media and even the Fox Channel depict Gay people enjoying the American way of life. Every news source has stories about LGBTQ individuals, couples, and families doing what people in this country do. Because that’s EXACTLY what Gay people do. They buy cars, work in businesses, eat at restaurants, pay taxes, and rent movies. And just about everybody knows someone or is related to someone who is Gay.
Some will argue that granting equality (and I’m not just talking marriage equality; I’m referring to the right to live, work, and play wherever you please) is opening the floodgates to an unprecedented level of immorality in this country. They are lying or at best deluded.
They refuse to see that equality is good for this country. It upholds the values that we as Americans cherish. Equality has nothing to do with religious beliefs. Equality has nothing to do with morality. Equality means this country recognizes that as Americans, each and every one of us is VISIBLE.
Ralph Ellison wrote: “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves or figments of their imagination, indeed, everything and anything except me.”
We cannot allow that to happen. We must be seen. Vote November 6th!
…And I’m just a mom who loves her son…