When I was asked to write this article I thought it would be a fairly simple task. After all, why wouldn’t I support Gay Rights? What makes it difficult is that it actually brings up a bit of a “pet peeve” of mine. I do not like to put people into “groups”. I try to live in a way in which I support ALL peoples rights, to “group” them is to do everyone an injustice. To me rights don’t come in groups, rights come as individuals.
We humans group people by the labels we give them. This makes it easier to discriminate and take away the inherent rights we ALL deserve. While some group identities are encouraged by the groups themselves, all too often these identities only encourage inequality. When people are treated as individuals it is much more difficult to eliminate their rights as human beings.
I guess it was this conviction which made it so natural to support our son when he “came out”. To John and me it was a non-issue. Loy is a wonderful, caring, intelligent person and he and his partner (Larry) live a very normal life as two committed individuals. It is only when they are labeled as “gay” and viewed as part of a group, that I see the discrimination they must endure. I have seen Loy discriminated against at other times too. As a member of the “Asian group” he has often suffered from the hate encouraged by this requisite grouping.
Where is it written that it is okay to treat someone in a disrespectful, hurtful way, because of who they love or because of the color of their skin or the shape of their eyes. This is why it is hard to say why I support gay rights, I support everyone’s’ rights.
I have always had what some might consider a simplistic view, but I believe that people are people and deserve a life of equality. I am just idealistic and optimistic enough to believe that a time will come when, to paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, all people will not be judged by the group they represent, but by the content of their character.
I can’t say how or when I came to this life-long conviction, but it has been part of me for longer than I can remember. I grew up in an upper middle class, all white neighborhood in Oakland. While my family were politically conservative, we were taught to have a great deal of pride in what I might call the “Traditional American Values” of equality and fairness. We were brought up to believe that the US was truly a “melting pot” in which people of every nationality and ethnic group had the same chance to succeed. After all, we had just fought a World War to save these values from those who would remove them from the world.
In reality it might not have been true, but we were so immersed in these values, that as young people we believed they existed and as adults many of us have been fighting to make them truly exist for a very long time.
As an elementary teacher I resisted the labeling and grouping inherent in the education community. (How do you teach non-discrimination while you subtly demonstrate discrimination through your policies?) All of this seemed wrong at the time and still does.
I truly believe that if we could stop putting people into groups and encourage looking at each other as individuals, we could make a major dent in this most damaging human activity of discrimination.
I want to see a world in which no one is singled out, discriminated against, or bullied because they belong to one “group” or another. Where each individual is shown the respect they deserve and where “The inherent worth and dignity of every person” is a principle by which we all live.