Saturday, September 09, 2006

Protecting my family

I am writing this in response to HBM's request for posts about the causes we hold most dear. I have been rolling the idea around in my head, and I suspect that this will, in fact, be only the first of several posts, as seems to be my practice when responding to one of her assignments.

It took me a while to figure out what to write about. There are so many worthy causes out there and, in fact, I find that I start to feel inadequate whenever I ponder all that I feel I should be doing. At first, I even began to fret that there isn't anything I truly am passionate about. But I realized that I wasn't being fair with myself. I am not dispassionate or apathetic. If asked what I care most about, I would easily answer, "My family." Not a surprising answer, but it does extend to the cause to which I most devote myself: gay and lesbian equality, focusing on, but not limited to, equal protection for gay and lesbian-headed families.

I am not a march-in-the-parade, in-your-face lesbian, or at least that's not my intent. But I have made a lot of choices with the hopes of advancing this cause.

The easiest thing I do is give money. My wife and I support HRC because they lobby lawmakers. It's not something I personally would want to do, beyond the letters and emails I have sent to my particular congresspeople, but I recognize that it is necessary for getting things done in the US government. We also give money to Lambda Legal. After our Canadian marriage, we decided not to create a registry; since we had been together for more than a decade and many people already treated us as a married couple, it seemed unnecessary. We did, however, suggest that friends and family could give to Lambda Legal since they've been so active in the fight for same-sex marriage in the US.

What I actively do in the fight for equality is simply to be out. Since the first time I set out for graduate school, more than a decade ago, I have made an effort to live as honestly and openly as I am able. At the beginning, it was always a conscious effort after psyching myself up. When I began teaching at the junior high school-level (much less so with senior high), I was very aware that I was the only openly gay teacher in the division (though far from the only gay teacher, so very far from it). Yet I found that my students, and even their parents, responded positively. It is much easier for me now, but that doesn't mean I don't experience a little anxiety when I correct someone's assumption that being married means I have a husband.

I do not know how much of a difference I am making in people's assumptions and perspectives. At the very least, however, I can be assured that all who get to know me even a little will then be able to say that they know someone who's gay. A fairly normal, intellectual, and thoughtful mother who's gay.

There is nothing that says proponents of gay and lesbian equality need be gay or lesbian themselves. The above-mentioned groups welcome all support. GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) is a group that does wonderful work with teachers and schools. It also doesn't take money to help. Just speak up. Don't let casual homophobic remarks go. You don't have to be abrasive, just say you don't like that kind of word/comment/sentiment. And support schools teaching even the youngest of children that there are all different kinds of families. It's an easy way to introduce the concept to kids without needing to bring sex into the discussion.

1 comment:

Her Bad Mother said...

This was beautiful and powerful and exactly right.

I'm so, so glad that you wrote it.