By Tobi Schwartz-Cassell
The time has come to lay it on the line. Some of you will agree with me, some will not. Some might consider unsubscribing from my newsletter, though I truly hope they don’t.
Others will be so pleased, they might share this post on Facebook. I truly hope they do!
Okay. Here goes…
Our daughter has introduced us to the many colors of the LGBTQIA+ community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersexed, Agender, Asexual, and Ally). Through her, Stan and I have met and enjoyed many dinners and much laughter with people who are transgender, non-binary, asexual, pansexual, and the list goes on. (Click here to see an 11-page list of terms created by Eli R. Green and Eric N. Peterson at the LGBT Resource Center at University of California, Riverside. This document does not list gender non-binary, but this document is an excellent resource to help us understand and respect non-binary people.)
Gender identity and sexual preference has never been black and white. In the 70s when I was in high school and college, my friends and I may not have known a gender non-binary person, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any in our midst. All we knew was there were gay people and straight people, and they were either men or women. That was the extent of it.
As we aged into adulthood, we became more enlightened. We went with it; others didn’t. And over time, gay life and gay rights have become yet another reality that divides this country, but in my opinion, shouldn’t.
In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, but believe it or not, that spurred dissension among–of all people–some gay rights leaders. At 88, Martin Duberman, a Stonewall historian and recipient of many awards for his work, believes the gay rights movement has gone off the rails, and become too conservative. As a sexual liberation pioneer of the 70s, he was never enamored with same-sex marriage, because he saw it as conformist. In his recently released book, “Has the Gay Movement Failed?” he laments that “what has been most innovative” about the gay lifestyle may be “abandoned or wholly concealed” by the focus on marriage and fitting in.
My point is that just as we’re starting to understand all the alternatives, more alternatives continue to come to light. As one of my dearest friends said to me yesterday, “It seems to me that so much is open and available to kids today that…it’s like having a smorgasbord, when you’ve never even sampled any of the foods before.”
This makes LGBTQIA+ life a life-long-learning process. But if you think about it, pretty much everything in life, in all its aspects—good, neutral and bad—is a constant life-long-learning process.
Being so lucky to have the opportunity to get to know so many in the LGBTQIA+ community, Stan and I have found that when you get right down to it, people are people, and gender identity and sexual preference just don’t matter. Same with race, religion and nationality. When you strip it all away, we are all the same—human. And every single one of us deserves happiness, security and love.
PS: Where do you stand on LGBTQIA+ rights? Are you confused by all the possibilities and terms? Are you a ‘live and let live’ type of person? Or do you wish things would just get “back to normal?” Please share your comments below, whether you agree or disagree with me. TIA (Thanks in advance. I know, so many acronyms! 🙂 )