The fight for equality is rooted in visibility

The 1991 Philadelphia Pride Parade. (Photo source: PGN archives)

Most in our community are not aware that now is the time that will choose the direction of the struggle for LGBTQ equality. Yes, we are at a pivotal time. Just take a look at what has happened in the last month:

Comedian Dave Chappelle’s ignorance and him doubling down on transphobia; North Carolina’s Lt. Governor calling the LGBT community “filth;” Superman coming out as Bisexual; the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders NFL team resigning over homophobic emails; the National Catholic Reporter’s story that Catholic schools are reexamining their policy of firing teachers who marry a same sex partner; China banning video games with same sex couples; Afghanistan’s Taliban hunting LGBT people; the Council of Anglican Bishops in Ghana saying they will do everything in their power to ensure anti-LGBT legislation become law; Hungary and Poland challenging European LGBT non-discrimination laws; the Cuban President meeting with LGBT activists; the Equality Act in Congress completely remaining stalled unless the Senate rules on the filibuster are changed; and Pioneering astronaut Sally Ride appearing on U.S. quarter coins.

There’s a lot happening at the same time, including numerous stories I didn’t list. Then there are the issues within our own community which include agism and people revising LGBT history for the sake of a political agenda, among others.

This list is only a partial list of what is occurring nationally and worldwide concerning our community. It could go on for many more paragraphs. The good news is that if that list was written only a few decades ago it would be limited to one sentence, since we were not visible and only myths about us were accepted as truth. But with greater visibility comes greater change. The first change has been somewhat successful: LGBT people are open in and play a greater role in all aspects of society. We see that in LGBT elected officials, those running for elected office, and those appointed in Government; LGBT people in sports, entertainment and corporate leadership; and we see it with the various nondiscrimination laws and sweeping pro LGBT policies of the Biden Administration.

But what about the negative news items on the list? They are limited usually to 3 issues. In many countries, people are uneducated on our issues because we are still largely invisible in those parts of the world, but that is changing. Even the introduction of negative legislation in those countries brings LGBT activists publicly out for the first time, which begins that process of education and visibility. Another issue in many countries is the continual religious oppression LGBT people face by those who wish to discriminate by hiding behind their bible. We need to remind them that they are most likely doing more themselves against that same bible than the one line in Leviticus about gay men they parade around. And finally, a continual thorn in the fight for equality are those who use social issues for political purposes, mostly in Southern bible belt areas and almost always Republican. One way to combat all of these things is continual and strong visibility. The end goal for anti-LGBT people and organizations is to get us to back down and shut up. And by remaining visible, we prevent that from ever happening.

We’ve become a major talking point among world and national leaders, but there is still much work to be done. Now that we’re no longer invisible, we can see clearly where we need to go.