Viewpoint: Equality isn’t always equal

By |2009-08-27T09:00:00-04:00August 27th, 2009|Opinions|

by Tiffany McLean

People judge people. We all know this and we all do this. We judge on “dumb” stuff, like the kind of car a person may drive to “smart” stuff, like did you go to college and if you did, where?
Myself, I try not to judge. I try to accept all people even those different from me. No, I am not always successful, but I try. I try hard. You know why I try? It’s simple: because it’s the right thing to do. It feels good. It keeps my blood pressure low and a smile on my face.
The fight for equality in the gay movement has been a long, hard one. The people who fought and who fight every day are to be applauded and recognized. Without these pioneers, these activists, these human beings I would not feel as comfortable as I do walking down the street holding my partner’s hand or expressing my love for my partner through PDA’s (In – God forbid – downtown Plymouth). I owe a debt of thanks to those who fought and some who even died for that sacred moment between myself and my partner. I am not ashamed to be who I am because of them.
Those people I speak of are from all walks of life. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern – the entire spectrum of the world. They reflect what equality is truly meant to be.
If one is equal, one is free. Freedom is one of the principles this country was founded on. Freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of religion – to name a few.
The problem with the such lofty goals is that freedom is not free. There is a cost to pay for the freedom we all want and deserve. That cost should not include a divisive LGBT community in Michigan. The sad thing is when we so need each other, we are only superficially there. We commit 85 percent and not the whole 100 percent we can and should provide to one another. I have sat up many a night and spoken to my partner about this. It pains me that our community is this way. My partner has asked me why I feel this way and to me the answer is simple. Simple yet painful. Racism.
The pink elephant in the room. Racism. No one wants to talk about it unless it is behind closed doors with “your own kind” where it is safe. However, in our desire to be safe, we miss out of the fundamental beauty of the world: each other. I am not an activist. I am just an African-American lesbian who wants to see her community do better. I know we can.
Equality in Michigan will never be achieved unless the “isms” are dealt with, the main ones being racism and sexism. There are others – classism, ageism, etc. The main two however, are racism and sexism.
I have read many negative things said about certain leaders within the LGBT community that are plain ol’ hurtful and unnecessary. It needs to stop. It needs to stop in southeastern Michigan and it needs to stop in western Michigan. We are all one Michigan.
We need to come together as a community of one – not a black LGBT community, or a white LGBT community, or a hispanic LGBT community. One community.
Yes, it is going to be a painful process, but growth always is. We will scrape our knees, we will fall down. We will argue, feelings will be hurt. That is part of the process. It is not a necessary evil, it is just necessary.
I ask all readers of BTL to stop for a moment and think of how can you reach out more to those not like you. Those you perceive to be different. Those who you perceive to not be equal. Once you truly sit and think about it, seek those people out. If you don’t know where to start, start with me. I am available to help truly create an equal Michigan. One Michigan. Once we reach out, that 85 percent commitment becomes 100 percent commitment and that 100 percent commitment becomes 100 percent Michigan equality.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.