Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Biden’s LGBTQ acceptance initiative

Today former Vice President Joe Biden announced a new initiative from his Biden Foundation, As You Are, which they call, “A Family and Community Acceptance Campaign”. The initiative wants to gather stories of real people because:
Stories have power. In the past decade, we’ve seen storytelling drive nationwide progress for LGBTQ equality. But far too many LGBTQ people—especially those under 25—still face rejection from the people closest to them. So we’re inviting you to help us change that. Share your story with us. Let’s work together to make the world better for LGBTQ young people. No matter your background, you deserve to be safe and affirmed #AsYouAre.
They’re right about the power of stories. The fight for marriage equality was won once people got see LGBTQ people as people, not just a category, a name often flung as an epithet. As I always say, it’s only easy to hate people in the third person—in this case, those gays. Hatred wilts when people are seen and thought of in the second person: you, my relative the lesbian; you, my neighbour, the gay man; you, that nice shop owner who’s trans. In the second person, hatred beings to melt away and common humanity begins.

Despite that, young people still face condemnation for being LGBTQ, often from those who are supposed to love them unconditionally: Their family and close friends. That is what this initiative is aiming to help, by using the same technique—people telling their own stories—to get people to stop seeing young LGBTQ people as anything other than people.

Young LGBTQ people have dramatically higher suicide rates than do other youth. That’s why Biden said of the project, “it is simple – this is about saving lives.” Because it is.

This work is part of what the Biden Foundation does, specifically, “Ensuring LGBTQ Equality”, In May, the Foundation announced a joint project with the YMCA of the USA “to foster LGBTQ inclusion and equity at YMCA locations nationwide.”

I think this it’s awesome that the Biden Foundation is taking on this work. LGBTQ people are threatened in ways not seen in a decade and a half. A hostile presidential regime and a Supreme Court that will soon be stacked with hardline anti-LGBTQ justices means all our legal progress over the past few decades is at risk. As part of the new onslaught against us, many of the battles to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination will move to the states, and to win those 50 separate battles will require a cultural change. This initiative will help with that important work.

However, the stark reality is that LGBTQ people cannot fight, and certainly won’t win, the upcoming battles without the support and help of heterosexual people, our “Straight Allies”, as we call them. We need straight people to talk to other straight people, so in the future, we’ll also need initiatives specifically designed to help them talk in support of LGBTQ people. That can build from initiatives like this one, because personal stories really do have a lot of power.

In my time in grassroots politics, I had one simple focus: Keep your eyes on the prize. We wanted social and legal equality for LGBTQ people, and we lobbied hard for it. But to win, we needed the support of heterosexual elected officials and other grassroots groups with other priorities. So, we built alliances, sometimes only on specific issues, in order to advance our larger agenda. That’s even more important now than it was in the Reagan era, and throughout the 1980s, when I did most of my work.

So I gladly welcome the help from the Biden Foundation. It’s allies like them that will help us prevail—together, all of the "us-es", as Harvey Milk used to say.

Joe Biden’s Twitter announcement:

Tip o' the Hat to Roger Green for the heads up; I've been so busy I would have missed the announcement otherwise.


rogerogreen said...

It's always a treat to point out stuff I figure that 90% of the time you would have found on your own

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

I think this may have been in that 10% this time.