Tuesday, May 17, 2016
The video above, from the United Nations’ Free & Equal campaign, was released for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. It struck a chord with me, especially at the moment. It encapsulates much of why I support human rights for all people, and have fought so hard for the human rights of LGBT people—and also why I won’t quit fighting.
Watching this video, I was reminded of how damn good we have it in many western countries. People in some of the countries in the video are fighting for their very lives, often literally, and often against the threat of imprisonment or death at the hands of their own governments. In many of those countries, the oppression of LGBT people is crushing.
As I’ve been saying the past few days, the radical right professional anti-gay industry is STILL campaigning to roll back the human rights of LGBT Americans, and I've added that since they decided to manufacturer a controversy over trans people using the public toilet that matches their gender identity, the radicals are often succeeding. I’ve also talked about how successful they’ve been in convincing otherwise rational, sensible people that the radicals’ propaganda is true, when it absolutely isn’t.
There are some people—including even within the LGB communities—who argue that we should just forget about trans people and jettison any concern over their oppression in order to save ourselves.
I think that’s bullshit.
The same radicals who are now targeting trans people hate LGB people every bit as much, and their war is ultimately against the human rights of us all. If we abandon trans people, it will not save us, but it could hasten the day the radicals win: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.
If I chose to ignore the oppression of trans people because I’m not trans, then why should I care about racism? I’m white. Why should I care about sexism? I’m male. For that matter, why should I care what happens to lesbians or bi people?
I’ll tell you why: Because for over 35 years I’ve fought too damn hard to ensure that human rights are respected and protected to stop now. I cannot ignore the oppression of people who are not like me because I know only too well that I, too, am a target of the radical right.
There’s an alternative to the hatred and bigotry of the far right, something so simple that they have no defence against it: Humanity. If we start every political discussion with the acknowledgement that everyone—even our adversaries, and including people we cannot understand—are human beings, then we can halt the endless cycle of hatred and violence. As I often say, inspired by Harvey Milk, it’s easy to hate in the third person: Them, those, they. It’s much harder to hate in the second person: You, my neighbour; you, my schoolmate; you, my co-worker; you, my preacher; you, my child. Our challenge is to make sure the first person acknowledges the second person is an equal.
Hatred is strong in the world. Prejudice, bigotry, oppression, discrimination—we humans have plenty of ways of dividing us against ourselves. What we need, so very desperately, are ways to overcome fear and hatred and to recognise the humanity we share DESPITE our differences, and the beauty of life BECAUSE of our differences.
The path of love will always win over hatred in the end. It’s not always easy or direct, and often not fast, but love always triumphs over hatred in the end. Always.
So, it seems obvious to me that we need to recognise that whatever divides us, we all ought to be free & equal, and we all must all work toward that goal, no matter how hard it may be sometimes.
And, I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.
The song in the video is “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten.