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Viewpoint: Diversity, Even in Opinion, is Good

By | 2016-05-19T09:00:00-04:00 May 19th, 2016|Opinions, Viewpoints|

Spoiler Alert! If you are reading this, you are in the Op-Ed section. If you visit the Online Etymology Dictionary, you will read that this section of a “newspaper opposite the editorial page is usually devoted to personal opinion columns (aka viewpoints).”
One of the things I remember the most about Jimmy and Grace Boggs was how they encouraged dialogue, spirited discourse and even arguments as part of the struggle in our becoming more human. It made for lively meetings, but even from our disagreements came progress.
They were both very strong leaders, but they were open to new ideas and different approaches. Sometimes these new ideas and different approaches fell by the wayside, but sometimes they became part of an inclusive approach to building a movement that goes on even though they have both passed on.
New ideas and different approaches can be challenging, risky and even scary, but without them we can become stagnant — even doomed — and make the same mistakes again and again. I have been a Hillary Clinton supporter from day one. She spoke to me, my concerns, but I knew we needed to have a dialogue of some sort during this campaign.
I welcomed Bernie Sanders’ entry into the campaign. His campaign has raised much needed questions. It’s been contentious, even divisive, but when all is said and done, I believe both the Democratic Party and the electorate will be better for this discourse.
Bernie wants a revolution, as do many Americans, but now is not the time for that revolution. The stakes are too high; the prospects of a Trump presidency are plain and simply too dangerous. However, we can’t throw the questions/concerns raised by the Sanders campaign out with the proverbial bath water. These voices, although dissonant and divisive, must be heard, digested, evaluated and part of an inclusive political process moving forward.
In 2015, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision guaranteed the fundamental right for same-sex couples to marry. Before the ink had dried on the decision, the flood gates were open unleashing a deluge of anti-LGBTQ acts/legislation reminding us that we had a long way to go for full equality.
Since the Obergefell decision, LGBTQ organizations have been fighting battles on several fronts including a growing number of religious freedom restoration acts (RFRAs). Although their mission is clear (to protect, defend and advance LGBTQ rights), some members of the community have differing ideas on how to achieve these rights.
I get it — those who are doing the work, with insight to polling, strategies and statistics, have evaluated the situation and developed a comprehensive path to do what they’re committed to do (i.e. to protect, defend and advance LGBTQ rights). They are the professionals. One of the anomalies of this presidential election is the rejection of what is seen as the career politicians. Many voters say they have fallen out of love with the “professionals.”
This is especially true in the Clinton/Sanders competition where despite her experience and qualifications, Clinton is seen as the professional/career politician while Sanders is seen as the outsider with new ideas. Voters are tired of the status quo. They want new ideas. They are impatient. It’s a wave sweeping across the country, capturing all Americans in its wake. In this climate, in our country and community, there are differing voices. I listen to/read the comments of Sanders and Clinton and wonder how we can ever come together.
The same is true when I listen to some of the debate within our LGBTQ community. For LGBTQ Americans, this dissatisfaction with the status quo is amplified. On both ends of the generational spectrum are calls for action — elders asking how long we are going to keep using the same tactics and millennials wanting an LGBTQ revolution. LGBTQ organizations have been doing the work and have a strategy, but we are still under attack. Our lives are literally on the line depending on the outcome of this election, and if you’re paying attention at all to the rhetoric and legislative actions across the country, you’re scared.
The established leadership has plotted a course, but many in the LGBTQ community are not at that table. Their voice needs to be part of an inclusive solution and strategy. It’s time to build our beloved community. It’s time to shut down the trash talking, the back and forth insults and the back stabbing. It’s time for us to reach out to one another to fight the real battle, not each other. We must work together to win full equality, to protect our families and protect those most vulnerable to attack — our transgender sisters and brothers. No, we don’t have to always agree, but we do have to work together and try to find common ground. Diversity, even in opinion, is good and will make us stronger.
Everyone won’t agree with what I say. It is, after all, my viewpoint. Like the Rick Nelson song goes, “You see you can’t please everyone, so you gotta please yourself.” I walk in my truth. It is mine and mine alone.
Haters are going to hate! To them I can only say, “The way you’re on my stuff must really hurt your knees!”

About the Author:

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Michelle E. Brown is a public speaker, activist and author. Her blog radio podcast “Collections By Michelle Brown” airs every Thursday at 7 p.m. Current and archived episodes can be heard on Blog Talk Radio, iTunes, Stitcher or SoundCloud. Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/CollectionsbyMichelleBrown/.