Think before you hateWritten by Emily Hickey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Even though our nation has made great strides for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Allied (LGBTQA) community, we as a city are trailing severely behind.
Despite what the headlines read, hate is not only expressed in violent ways; it is expressed in even the most subtle of ways during our everyday lives. Hate is trying to convince me that I am a lesbian because I haven’t met the “right guy” yet. Hate is cat-calling when I kiss my girlfriend goodbye or hold her hand. Hate is putting church pamphlets in my mailbox that tell me to burn in hell. Hate is being a man who says he will be the one to “turn me straight.”
While some of these experiences may sound familiar to others in the LGBTQA community across the country, they have significant meaning to me because it’s a small list of the various ways I have experienced hate within the City of Toledo.
Until recently, I would have just brushed these moments off, but where does that get our community? How does pretending hate does not exist advance my world or the world for my future children?
Since becoming active in and seeing the strength of Toledo’s LGBTQA community, I’ve realized that it is time to stand up for myself, to stand up for my friends and to stand up for those in our community who cannot speak up for themselves.
The fight for equality might not be an easy one in Ohio or even in Toledo, but I’m all in for the fight because I’m tired of feeling constantly ashamed. I’m tired of constantly having to put my head down or turn away when someone makes a negative comment about being gay. I am all in with the understanding that it won’t be an easy fight nor will it be a quick fight.
We will have to challenge religious beliefs. We will have to challenge the opinions and perceptions of our friends, co-workers and maybe even our family members. We will have to challenge entire media campaigns. We will also have the challenge of educating young children on the importance of equality and what it really means. We will have to publicly speak out against things we do not believe in, even if we stand alone.
When it gets difficult, I am going to forever remember the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who said, “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
I encourage you to hang on with me and join in my fight to erase hate. Join me by standing up against the small acts of hate that happen every day. It is through fighting the small acts and making the small steps forward that we can truly begin to see a positive change
Please think before you hate. Don’t hide the meaning of “being gay” from your children, regardless of their age. Don’t assume that someone who identifies as bisexual is merely “confused.” Don’t think that you know a transgendered person’s pronoun by their appearance. Don’t assume someone is a lesbian just because they are a female with short hair. Don’t let your friends joke by saying something is “so gay.”
By assuming, by saying, by doing, by not standing up against, you are merely contributing to our city, to our state, to our country and to our world taking a giant step backward in the fight for equality.
Emily Hickey is an advocate for the LGBTQA community through Toledo Pride and OutSKIRTS Toledo. For more information, visit www.toledopride.com or OutSKIRTS Toledo on Facebook.