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What does Diversity mean to you or a VERY GAY community

What does diversity mean to you? Really, to you, personally not some textbook definition, what you heard some diversity trainer say or what you've seen or read in a newspaper or magazine. What is diversity to you?
You don't have to use fancy words, graphs, percentages or head counts. Just explain it to me. Break it down like you were telling a five year old. Just tell me in a way that anyone can understand. Don't give me a solution or work plan. Let's just find a place where we can begin a real authentic dialogue.
Sound like a difficult task? Well that's the opening on-air host and GLBTQ activist Betty Couvertier gave me to begin our conversation on her program "Alternative Perspectives: The Voice of the GLBTQ community and our Allies." The program airs weekly on WRFG (Radio Free Georgia) 89.3 FM every Tuesday night from 7-8PM and is streamed at http://wrfg.org .
Couvertier, a Latina and native New Yorker, moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1995. After her arrival, she became active in gay organizations, including the Atlanta Pride Committee and Georgians against Discrimination. She was co-chair of the coalition of gay rights groups, religious leaders and straight organizations that formed after the Georgia General Assembly passed a gay marriage ban in November 2004. Couvertier also works with the Human Rights Campaign which is where our paths first crossed.
There we were, two sisters of color, working to build diversity not just within our respective communities but within an organization with the dubious reputation of being "a rich white boys' club."
One of the many things we agreed upon was the need for communities of color to act locally but also have a voice nationally. But what we were both seeing was that despite all the trainings, goal setting and attempts at inclusivity, attaining real diversity was as difficult, if not more so, than attaining full equality for the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgender and Queer community.
Betty and I often share thoughts, correspondence and even articles that reflect our concerns about a number of social justice issues, especially diversity.
So diversity, just what is it? This is by no means the "Gospel according to Betty and Michelle" but hopefully the beginning of a national, grass roots dialogue, everyday people just like you, will participate in at either of our blogs or maybe even on a future installment of "Alternative Perspectives: The Voice of the GLBTQ community and our Allies. "
For Betty, diversity is the humanity of each of us. It is the right to be free, to express who we are, and be who we are. It is the inclusion of our experiences, our environment, and finding the commonality of it all, based on the human rights that we all are entitled to and the value of each human being. It's finding our differences and transforming them into knowledge, that will enable all of us to understand, and communicate and build bridges of community.
For me it is the recognition, acknowledgement and celebration of our individual differences and uniqueness. It's seeing each of us as an irreplaceable and invaluable resource in the sustainability of not just humanity/civilization but the earth itself. With this recognition and acknowledgement, especially in the United States of America, we must also come to terms with the truth that despite the wisdom and potential in a literal reading of the constitution for full equality, in reality, it is flawed document built on a patriarchal viewpoint rife with the politics of domination inherent in misogyny, racism, classism and homophobia.
Sitting at the Michigan Opera Theatre recently, I had one of those "Aha!" diversity moments. Here in Detroit, a rust belt city epitomizing all the challenges facing America – high unemployment, job loss, urban deteriorating, violence – I sat, a part of an audience of young, old, rich, poor, black, white, suburban and urban dwellers, enjoying a performance that at one moment brought us to tears and then to our feet in thunderous applause.
The opera, Turandot, by an Italian composer, telling a story of intrigue, passion, sacrifice and ultimately love in the legendary forbidden city of Peking was performed by an international and multi-ethnic cast. Oh Beauty, Oh Art, that every day life might one day imitate you.
Betty and I share the belief that the GLBTQ and ally community, as we grapple with our own internal diversity and struggle for equality, can be agents of change for a real paradigm shift moving society as a whole towards a country, despite the contradictions of its founding fathers, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all Americans/Human Beings are created equal.
In Betty's words "Our diversity is our army, inclusion our weapon and community our victory. There is no other community on the face of the earth that brings the colors, religions, cultures, regions, economics, genders, ages, sexual orientations, and political affiliations together in one common cause. We must take advantage of that, and build the bridges that will take us to where we want to be."
And so I ask again. What does diversity mean to you – Really, to you, personally? Join in our conversation at my website or at http://betty-talk.blogspot.com. Better yet, start your own conversation. But let's, at a grassroots, neighbor-to-neighbor, person-to-person level not just talk about diversity but live it.
The result, if we listen to each other and to our hearts, will be a truly diverse and (by Merriam Webster's own definition for the word as keenly alive and exuberant) very GAY community.



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Topics: Opinions
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