“Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana
We will not be the last.
The issues plaguing the LGBT community are not new. We were not the first people in the world to feel the boot heel of oppression pressing down. The bigotry that forces us to fight to be seen as equals in the eyes of others is a regurgitation of the same hateful vomit aimed at different people. Race, sex, religion, nationality, class have all been used as an excuse for persecution either before or alongside the maltreatment based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
As optimistic as I would like to be, the realist tells me we will not be the last.
Will we ever be equals? In the eyes of the law there is a high chance that every state in the United States of America will allow for same-sex marriages. The climate has changed. More and more support is growing for equality. Even from those who may not agree with homosexuality, they still understand that “different” does not mean “less than.” But even for the law to see us as equals, will people?
If we will not be the last, who will be next?
Recently, several department stores in New York were caught racial profiling black customers. These customers purchased expensive items and were detained on suspicion of credit card fraud. Rob Brown, an actor from the HBO drama Treme, was one of those customers. Being an actor, you would assume he had the money. Besides race, what other motivation would there be for him to be detained? Another question, if this can happen to a successful black man seen by millions about 50 years after the Civil Rights Act, does not this show that the same can and will happen to us?
A person’s value is still based in a large part on the amount of money they earn. Women still earn less than men for the same position in many industries. Homeless people and those on welfare still face a stigma of being a burden on society. Different faiths are seen in part to be less than the major religions of this nation.
We will not be the last and no one will be next.
The war for civil rights was never won. Enough was done to allow a semblance of equality. As unfortunate as it is, we allow it. We do it to ourselves and each other. There are times when the oppressed begin the oppression once they reach that state of almost equal. The best example I can give of this is I am bisexual. There is still a debate on whether or not bisexuality is a legitimate sexual orientation. We are pigeon holed into a box saying we are straight but just going through a phase. Or we are gay/lesbian and just too afraid to fully come out of the closet. For those who have read my other posts, you know I have been married to someone of the opposite sex for almost 7 years. Apparently, I am enjoying “hetero privilege.” How this came to be a term is beyond me. The point is that many bisexual people feel ostracized from the very groups we try and support. And we need to support each other now more than ever. Our transgender brothers and sisters need our support because many states still discriminate based on gender identity, where as, different sexual orientations are slowly becoming more accepted.
We will not be the last because no one is equal. No one will be until we not only stop discriminating against those that are different but stop looking past the differences. We need to accept and celebrate the differences. Maybe, if we can get to this point, all will be the last and we will all be equal.