Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
March 4, 2012
We Are Far From Mainstream, But LGBT Acceptance Is On The Rise
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
We were sitting around having a casual conversation over good food (Asian, of course!). We wondered if there is an order for the process of societal attitudes that culminate in equality. Is it first tolerance, followed by acceptance, then respect, and finally equality? That would seem logical, but logic plays a very small role in LGBT equality. Then, too, what exactly do these terms mean? What would be the difference between tolerance and acceptance? What would equality look like? What would it feel like for an Asian LGBT person to walk and move through life in America just like a white Anglo-Saxon male?
Such conversations have little practical utility and are more suited for either conversations with a large social dimension, or a master’s thesis. Underlying the conversation, though, is a real concern: how is progress toward LGBT equality measured and how can the measurements, whatever they are, be used to achieve the goal better and quicker?
Sometimes Diamonds, Sometimes Coal
We live in a time when progress toward API LGBT equality is spotty. Great triumphs are balanced by bitter defeats. In 2009, Houston became the nation’s largest city to elect an openly lesbian mayor. On Election Day 2011, Mayor Annise Parker was re-elected. On that same day, 53 out of 75 candidates endorsed by the Gay and Lesbian Victory fund won their contests. But listening to the Republican candidates for president, there is no room for LGBT equality and the Democratic Party is resisting a plank on marriage equality for its 2012 platform, while its standard bearer is still evolving on that subject and has been for four years.
Ellen Degeneres was named spokeswoman for JC Penney, One Million Moms launched a campaign to boycott the department store, but JC Penny’s management stood firmly by their choice. Kirk Cameron, 1980s sitcom heartthrob and lead actor in Firefly (2008), said that homosexuality is unnatural and ultimately destructive.
An openly lesbian judge from Dallas County, Texas, refuses to issue marriage licenses to heterosexual couples until Texas allows same-sex marriages. Judge Tonya Parker said that in a state that denied marriage equality she doesn’t think that she could “partially apply the law to one group of people that doesn’t apply to another group of people.” Barbara Johnson, a Maryland lesbian, was denied communion at her mother’s funeral. She told her story: “I approached [Father Marcel Guarnizo of Gaithersburg’s Saint John Neumann Catholic Church] to receive communion, and at that moment, he placed his hand over the bowl containing the Eucharist and looked into my eyes and said, ‘I cannot give you Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin.’” Later, when Ms. Johnson delivered the eulogy, Father Guarnizo left.
It Is Neither Half Full, Nor Half Empty, There Simply Is No Glass
We are reaching to make a point. In a land this large, and this diverse, with a tradition of free speech, the progress of a cause may be measured by the degree and number of conflicting signals from the field. We are at the beginning of a sea change and although the outcome is not in doubt, it is still a long hard road.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride apifamilypride.org