Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
June 2, 2011
It Is June! It Is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. Let’s Celebrate!
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
This is our first blog for the month of June, the month that celebrates gay pride. That is official. Back in June 2000, then President Clinton declared June “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.” Even better, in June 2009, President Barack Obama proclaimed June “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.” June was chosen to commemorate the June 28, 1969, Stonewall riots generally taken to be the birth of the LGBT movement. The word “pride” was chosen because it is the opposite of shame; the shame of LGBT people felt about themselves that allowed their suppression. President Obama also issued proclamations in 2010 and 2011 and in the 2011 one he stated, “LGBT rights are human rights.” Imagine that, 42 years after the LGBT community started a movement, a president declares LGBT rights to be human rights. As political movements go, this is almost warp speed.
Do You Feel Guilty Because You’re Different?
Our friend Mark Molina posted a message on our Facebook page about Pink Dot 2011. The post contained a video with little vignettes about people who are not yet proud, people who are still ashamed. There is a particular scene with a clergy apparently marrying a lesbian couple, then the camera moves to a close-up of his face, elderly and compassionate, and he says:
“If only gay people could stop feeling guilty for being different.”
We know that the video was shot in Malaysia for a Malaysian audience and what the clergy meant, but we still want to examine the utterance closely. Notice that he said gays are different; different from what? When you see a man do you know if he is gay? You observe his mannerism, his dress and come to a conclusion, but often you would be wrong. In fact, we hear complaints from high school students who are bullied because the bullies think they are gay even when they are not. When you see two women in a passionate embrace, what do you see? You see two people in love. Love is universal, so what is different here? The object of love you say? Only opposite sex people can be in love you say? Nobody believes that anymore, but they do want to reserve the legal expression of that love to opposite sexes. They are wrong, just as wrong when, not too long ago, you couldn’t be in love and marry a person from another race.
Change What You Can, Accept What You Cannot
What about feeling guilty? Why should anyone feel guilty because he or she is born with different attributes? Is their anything you can do about it? Can we change being Asian? Should we feel guilty about being Asian? Of course not, you cannot change what you are born with and yet we hear and read about LGBT people who hate themselves for being LGBT. We have a true story we like to tell. A young woman was the victim of a shooting and became paralyzed from the waist down. She fought to regain the ability to walk, all kinds of conventional and experimental treatments. None of them worked and she became depressed, dropped out of college, couldn’t hold a job, moved back in with her parents. Then one day, she re-enrolled into college, graduated, got a job, bought a house and remodeled it to accommodate her wheelchair. She explained that she slowly realized that she would be in that wheelchair for the rest of her life. That acceptance liberated her and she could get on with her life.
This Is June! Celebrate The Difference
We know what the Malaysian clergy is saying. You feel different because you are told that you are. You feel guilty because you are told you shouldn’t be different. Whoever is telling you that is wrong. Being an LGBT person is just one of the many attributes that collectively make you who you are. This is June, everybody gives you a pass to get on with you being you.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride; www. apifamilypride.org