Jurich: Toledo can be a community of safety and respectWritten by Stacy Jurich | | email@example.com
Are you turned off by the word “queer?” Does it turn you on? What does “queer” mean to you … eccentric, unconventional? I bet you know a couple, or many, people who are gay — those jovial, happy, good-spirited folk. I am usually not as active in gay rights as I am with other disgustingly existent issues like corporate corruption, war, degradation of the environment, etc., because such amazing local and national organizations as Toledo PRIDE, the Human Rights Campaign and The Trevor Project are already working tirelessly toward equal rights and eliminating hate crimes. However, I am going to take this time in the hope that our amazing hometown of Toledo, Ohio can be a community of safety, tolerance, respect and love.
At 5 a.m. in the Detroit Airport, I was waiting for a flight to Guatemala City. The televisions at the gate showed a news program about the death of Seth Walsh, a 13-year old who, in September, hung himself in his family’s backyard after enduring years of harassment because he was gay. Three months after his death, the ACLU released a video of Seth’s mother speaking the words written by Seth in his goodbye note to his family. The news program also interviewed Clint McCance of Midland School Board in Arkansas who had been writing anti-gay posts on Facebook.
Seth is not the only one who has taken his own life because of the hatred dealt his way. There are also some who have been killed because of their sexual orientation. Thousands of homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders are taunted, harassed, bullied, verbally and physically abused, and disowned by their families every day. Dead for loving. Sounds contradictory to me. As silly as dead for the color of your skin. As ridiculous as dead for faith, belief or prayer.
“Love is too big for just one nation and God is too big for just one religion,” sings Michael Franti.
Love is the greatest common denominator of all creation. Some may say that we are born of love, divinity and the purity of creation. Many humans are conceived in the act of love. We are born giving and receiving unconditional love.
What happens between birth and an age when we begin to judge and decide what is or isn’t appropriate for another individual’s life? Is it when we become aware of society and its set of rules about love? Is it because of that same society that validates wars in the name of freedom? That tells us we need money to buy things to make us happy? This viewpoint is limiting and creates an unnecessary struggle for ideals that are actually quite simple and ever-present.
Why does it matter who loves whom? Is it because of one’s interpretation of what “God says”? Is it because of one’s interpretation of the Bible? Is it because one may find it gross? Whatever the reason, it is your own, and it is not your responsibility to “save” homosexuals from damnation. If you are offended by homosexual love, look away. If you make hateful remarks, hateful actions use “gay” as a word to describe something “uncool,” ask yourself if you’d really want to see that person dead. The majority of the people I know are not signed up for society’s set of rules on love. Love is too big for rules, too powerful for restraint, too real to deny, too important to suppress.
As I sat on the plane that morning with tear-filled eyes, everyone slept as I watched the sun rise above the clouds. It began with a band of red lining the horizon under a crisp night sky. Then it was red and orange. After more time passed, the band grew thicker and a yellow band grew on top of the orange. Yellow eventually blended into a band of light green, on top of which grew a bright blue band, which led into the expanse of the still midnight blue sky with a few distinguishable stars. Yes, a rainbow sunrise. A rainbow preparing the sky for the sun, our source of life and light. I saw this as a good sign, a sign that everything is going to be OK. Maybe that is why a rainbow is the iconic symbol for gay rights. It’s a pure and naturally occurring symbol of beauty from the Creator, just as we are.
All of us.
E-mail Stacy Jurich at firstname.lastname@example.org.