I Want to be 'In It To Win It,' not Torn Between Two Lovers

There are two very distinctive sides to me.
On the one side, I need to have a plan with everything thought out. I need to weigh all the pros and cons and have a backup plan B, C and even D! I guess you could call this side of me Strategic-Chelle.
On the other side is Scrappy-Chelle. She is down for a good fight. She is crazy optimistic and ready to give it all she's got. She is strong in the belief that good will ultimately overcome evil.
Yes, I can go one way or the other or stay balanced right in the middle. What can I say — I am a Libra!
Needless-to-say, the ongoing discussions on the best way to secure LGBTQ protections in Michigan as well as municipalities/states across the country has had both of my sides in turmoil.
When reading the banter on social media and in conversations with friends/colleagues, I find I'm not alone in being torn between the two primary courses of action that have been laid out.
Even sadder than the fact that inequality still exists for LGBT people beyond marriage is the rancor between members of our community on the best way to achieve workplace equality.
Yes, we can get married and many employers offer wonderful benefits for same-sex families, but employment discrimination continues to be a critical problem facing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and others who are gender nonconforming in our community.
Our friends, our families and our communities need to know this and how it not only impacts our families directly but all of our communities gay, straight and queer alike. They need to know that passing human rights ordinances, likes Houston's HERO, or amending Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, are about expanding protections — not providing special rights.
They — our friends, family and communities — need to hear our stories and why this protection matters not just to the LGBTQ community, but also must matter to everyone in our state, not just today but for future generations. That's the story: us, our lives, our families.
I understand that whichever path is taken to gain these protections whether by ballot amendment (which has been tabled for now) or legislative action, it will be expensive. Some will be targeted (most likely the most vulnerable) and there will be pain, harsh words, including much hate speech.
If we look back at the civil rights movement — the struggle that many LGBTQ activists often draw parallels to — there are lessons to learn.
Montgomery, Alabama residents, fed up with segregation on the bus systems, took action and refused to ride city buses from Dec. 1, 1955 to Dec. 20, 1956. The strategic decision to boycott the buses in the fight for equality often came at great economic hardship to residents who relied on the bus to get to/from work.
On Sunday, Sept. 15, 1963, white supremacists planted at least 15 sticks of dynamite at the 16th Street Baptist Church killing four little girls whose only crime was being black in an America that believed they were not due the same rights and protections of every other American child.
The community as a whole suffered indignities, hardships and violence but were united in their resolve to "march on, until victory was won."
History now tells us that during those darkest of times there were differences amongst leaders, in strategies and in tactics; but the faces we saw, the stories we heard, were united in one message for an end to segregation and a call for justice!
Marriage was not the end in the fight for LGBTQ equality; in fact, it may have opened more opportunities for the haters to rise up against us. Our work is far from over. It is hard and there are no easy answers.
Now more than ever we need leadership. Leadership that will give us hope. Leadership that will bring our community together — not have friends challenging friends. Leadership that, while granting full transparency, does not let the media focus the conversation on infighting and away from the need to protect millions more LGBTQ Americans from unjust discrimination.
I get it! We have to work smarter, be strategic, get resources and not squander those we already have; we also have to take action. But we can do this.
Remember Prop 2, when everyday people, both LGBTQ and allies alike, stepped up, told their stories, moved hearts and raised funds in our fight for marriage equality? The deck was stacked against us but we dug deep into our pockets, deep into our hearts, for equality's sake.
Our community is prepared to do the work, so give us more than bad headlines and business as usual, "Leaders." I don't want to be torn between two lovers for equality's sake going back and forth between Scrappy and Strategic-Chelle. I want to be in it — In It To Win It!


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