This post first appeared on Blogger Idol’s Week 5 Challenge: Idol Gives Back. The assignment involved highlighting a cause near and dear to me and an organization that works to raise awareness. I also had the chance to give props to two bloggers who have showcased the good that is to be found in the blogging community.
April and I sat in a Taco Bell on a Friday night. We were laughing about our favorite clips from the International Commercial Festival we had just seen. Three girls at a table near ours mocked us with sneering snickers. I thought it was strange and didn’t know why they would be making fun of us. We ignored it and continued talking.
We laughed again. They cackled loudly.
I remember looking at them, my face reflecting the confused annoyance I felt.
One of them said, “fucking dykes.”
What? Did she just call us ‘dykes’? April hid her pain well and brushed it off. She was “used to it.” I was not.
“Why don’t you carpet munching bitches go back in the closet where you belong?!”
My face was burning red. I was furious and hurt. I couldn’t wrap my mind around what was happening. April said, “We’re done eating anyway. Let’s just leave.”
No. Let’s not just leave. They can’t say something like that. Can they? HOW can they?
It was a question that I have struggled with for years. How can one person treat another with such vile hatred without knowing anything about them? Without being provoked or instigated, how can someone attack another person–verbally or physically–simply based on the idea that they’re gay?
The impact those girls had on me that night was significant. More than twenty years later I get a pit in my stomach thinking about the contempt in their voices and the malice in their glares.
What pains me so much is knowing that it was an isolated event in my life. I wasn’t subjected to the daily taunting and comments. One, single event cut me deeply.
It makes me shudder to think of the pain that April–and all my LGBT friends–live with. Our experience that night was minor in her eyes compared to some of the other abhorrent interactions she had with some people. No one should have to endure the virulent slurs that are commonly hurled at LGBT people.
At the time of that incident, April wasn’t “out.” Because of people like the girls we encountered, she felt she had to keep that part of her life hidden. As much as anything else, it was for her own protection–emotionally and physically.
Although I had believed in equality before then, that year I became a fighter. I have been passionately committed to opening dialogue and raising awareness that discrimination is not acceptable. My LGBT friends deserve the same opportunities and rights I have.
I want everyone to see my friends for the good people they are. I want them to see that we’re all human–unique, vulnerable, loving, lovable humans. We are people: Jen, April, Patrick, Annee, Kristi, Scott, Mary.
I’ve been a member of the Human Rights Campaign for twenty years. HRC advocates for equal rights and benefits for LGBT Americans, fighting to ensure that all families are treated equally under the law. HRC has lobbied for legislation that ensures that all Americans enjoy the same freedoms in life.
My son was probably only three years old when he asked why I had an equal sign on the back window of my vehicle. I told him I display it because I believe everyone should be treated equally. Over the years I’ve heard both of my kids offer similar explanations to anyone who asked about our HRC sticker–“because we think everyone should have equal chances in life.”
I want my kids to grow up in a world where people are judged by what they do, not by whom they love. I want them to know that every person deserves to love and be loved.
I want my kids to recognize that we’re not equal until we all have the same rights.
I want my kids to not blink an eye when they see a same-sex couple holding hands. Because it’s nothing out-of-the-ordinary. It’s just love.
It’s important to me that my kids know that we can accomplish so much more when we look for common ground instead of focusing on our differences. Rather than tear others down, we can make this world a better place by honoring one another, respecting each other and supporting our neighbors and friends.
I have seen the good that can be achieved when we support and stand up for each other within the community of bloggers. It’s why I’m so excited for the second part of this week’s Give Back assignment. I get to shine a light on two members of the blogging community who inspire, support, or motivate me. I hope you’ll check them out. Click on the links to read more about them. You can follow them on their blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more.
When I began Real Life Parenting, I explored the blogosphere and felt an honest kinship with other writers. I read and commented on their posts, they stopped by my blog and did the same. When I came across Teri at Snarkfest, I knew I had found someone for me. Thoughts from a totally snarktastic mom was right up my alley. She jokes about her cat, Dumbass, and rewrites the lyrics to songs detailing the mornings her daughters miss the school bus. It’s one of the ways she turns frustrating parenting moments funny which is exactly my cup o’ tea.
Teri supports other bloggers sharing posts and drawing attention to causes and charitable activities that they are involved with. She’s been a wonderful friend and support for me and epitomizes what I love about the blogging community.
While some people make us feel validated because we have common interests, others touch us because they inspire us to be better people. That’s what I love about Wendy Nielsen. She’s a kind-hearted, positive person and a breast cancer survivor. She talks very openly about her experience and her blog has built an amazing support resource for anyone who has been affected by breast cancer.
Throughout the month of October she has been featuring the inspiring stories of women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Some women are sharing their story mid-treatment. Others are looking back years later. All of them inspire me to meet my daily challenges with perspective–and a positive attitude. Wendy’s tagline is “Writing a New Story” which is the focus of each piece in her series.
By giving these women a platform to share their experience, Wendy is providing a voice and source of hope to many women, their friends and family.
Through my life’s experiences and in the blogging community, I’m reminded each day to Love completely, Laugh as often as possible, and to Live each day to the fullest.
Go check out HRC, Snarkfest and Wendy Nielsen! Look through their virtual cupboards. They won’t mind, I promise!
Ok – damn you for making me tear up when reading this. I was so sad and angry after reading what happened to you and your friend. Ignorance just kills me every time. Thank you for not being afraid to put your beliefs out there – that takes an honest writer to do that. And thank you also for the blogs you picked. I’ve been a fan of Teri at Snarkfest for awhile and glad you gave her a shout out. I also loved that you included clickable links – great way to showcase their work. Awesome job!
–Martinis and Minivans
Wow–the story you shared had me so angry. It really illustrated well why you took your advocacy to a higher level at that point. And it made me want an equal sign bumper sticker for my car! Your descriptions of the blogs you chose to highlight were great–succinct but thorough enough that I felt like I knew what they were all about. The only thing that turned me off a bit was the “Live, Laugh, Love” part. It seemed gimmicky, which you didn’t need. Overall, though, a great job!
–Crazed in the Kitchen
I really loved this entire piece. I appreciated your personal story tied to your cause. It really made me feel connected. And I felt your passion and commitment throughout. I also thought you transitioned well to your bloggers, and made them shine. I also like that you showcased two different ones to show us a different sides of you. Well done.
–Ice Scream Mama
FABULOUS post. Triple A+++ from me. The personal story you shared at the beginning was sensational and made me get all teary-eyed. Your transitions were fantastic, and the blogs you linked to were great. I am also a big fan of Snarkfest! Anyway — best post I’ve read so far.
–Pile of Babies