June 04, 2015

Heroics of our LGBTQ family

Dear Friends and Family:

I am compelled to write this post because of the increasing amount of "shaming" regarding Caitlyn Jenner's coming out as transgender and beginning to live her life authentically troubles me. Comparisons being made to what some interrupt as "true heroism" and thus degrading and down playing the life that so many LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and queer) folks have endured shames me. This coming out of Caitlyn is a national and international opportunity for us to explore in learning and conversation how we can better support and love those in our lives, our communities who are genuinely struggling with their authentic selves. Rather than expending energy to "post your opinion" on why you don't like this dialogue, I ask you to expend your energy learning more about the issue, open yourself to the conversation, not just to expressing that you are uncomfortable or disagree but experience the sense of wonder and discovery, the beauty of our LGBTQ family. There are heroes in this community too - very real ones.

The overwhelming number of posts showing pictures of the men and woman who have been to war, were wounded or killed have a place but not in this conversation. In no way does helping a disenfranchised LGBTQ person, or celebrating a LGBTQ person's life, take away from another's journey. If this were the case, no one is a hero. In fact, I personally find these "hero" comparison posts offensive and dismissive of those LGBTQ people who are targeted, hated, ridiculed, killed, beat up, denied work just because of their gender identity, sexual orientation and because of whom they are, that is all my LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Soldiers are heroes of course but don't own the definition of heroism; by qualifying heroics as being limited only to those in the field of war, we are propagating war, murder and American imperialism. I think the dialogue I want to focus on is how we can help those who are trying to understand their own gender, sexual identity or orientation can feel supported, respected and given the freedom to be themselves as they are born to be, not as we or someone else defines it for them. Living one's life in a body that doesn't feel right, whether it is because of gender or sexuality is a journey that none of us can truly understand or appreciate until we ourselves have been on that same journey. For me, judgment holds no power there, or shouldn't at any rate. Being authentic to who one 's true gender (not assigned) is one way a person can be liberated and will hopefully give one power to be authentically oneself. In my world view, this authenticity is good and should be the life that one is allowed to live in. Not allowing this freedom, this authentic expression, of self-expression is damaging not only to the individual but to all of us. It is literally killing many youth and adults who struggle with transgender questions. Those bright lights of human life are lost to often to suicide and murder because someone told them "you can't be the boy or girl you truly are" arbitrarily decided based on what makes someone else feel comfortable but not based on the life of the person actually affected. Not all definitions of bravery require self-sacrifice-some definitions of bravery encompass our ability to be authentic, honest and true to who we are and who we want to be.

Let's remember a few of our beloved LGBTQ youth pictured here that we've lost because they couldn't find the support, to be loved or find the hero to identify hope in their lives. The below list is in no means comprehensive but a reminder of what's at stake. By continuing to shame our LGBTQ family, we are literally killing them and ourselves. So much is lost because these beautiful souls were told, "You are not a hero and can never be." In my heart, in my mind, they are my heroes. I didn't know them or any who are lost, but I miss them and so too the world, though we don't even know how much. Rest in Peace Heroes - your journey continues in our memories and our hearts. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_among_LGBT_youth

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