May 17: IDHAO.

It’s been a long debate in my head as to whether or not I was actually going to put up a post about this on my blog.  This online space of mine seems to have taken a decidedly fashion/makeup oriented tone in the last little while.  Though I understand that perhaps this is morphing into a bit of a style blog, that really wasn’t the intention or design.  The true purpose in fact was just to create an online space where I had the opportunity to share bits of my life in this fantastic space we call the blogosphere.  You see, the purpose is a creative outlet, an opportunity for expression, and a place to share not only the frivolous but the important.  This thought pattern therefore has led me to the conclusion that drawing emphasis to what today is, is pretty necessary.

May 17th is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).

I knew this day existed, but I’d never really given it  much thought (truthfully) prior to the last few years, and certainly not as intently as I have this year.  IDAHO is different from Pride, or Coming Out days, or the Day of Silence (NOH8 campaign) that are recognized as a part of the fight for acceptance of the LGBTQ community.  The rationale behind this (from my perspective) is instead to stand up against the discrimination and intolerance that still exists around the community.  It’s a call for respect.  The best description that I’ve found online comes from http://idahomophobia.org : “a global movement against all discriminations on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”  This is something I really believe in.

I’m a straight female supporter of the LGBTQ community, so I won’t in any conceivable way claim to know or be able to fully understand what it’s like to be discriminated against in this capacity.  What I can share though, is that if it hurts me that much to hear homophobic comments being made about many of my closest friends on those grounds, I can’t imagine what it’s like to be the direct recipient of that hate.  What I think this day should be about is making people conscious of what they are saying and what their actions are.  No one is asking you to wear a rainbow flag like a cape and run through the streets, what’s being asked of you is to stand up as an accepting and tolerant member of society.

Age, religion, gender, ethnicity, colour…society has managed to slowly win the battle against these and this is just another battle that needs to be won.  I’ve even heard phrases of gay being the new black.  It has become the new social issue that’s requiring a paradigm shift.  The whole issue has somehow become contentious, and this isn’t even limited to those outside the LGBTQ community.  The way in which we approach and discuss this can come from within the LGBTQ community itself – just consider the article from last month in Newsweek about gay actors and actresses playing straight and all the backlash it’s received.

Take some time today, consider the words and the labels that you use in your vocabulary or the way you treat people.  Don’t tolerate this judgement and discrimination.  Be a part of the movement, even if it’s just from the sidelines.  It’s hard enough to deal with the level of judgement that society throws at everyone on a daily basis, why not take homophobia out of the equation?  Being gay is perfectly fine.  It doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t need to define who you are or what you accomplish in life.  The purpose of IDAHO, of today, is even in just a small way to let people know that this is acceptable and that there shouldn’t be judgement.  There are a phenomenal number of people both directly within the LGBTQ community, on its fringes, in it supporters, and outside of it who are there as a support network.  The resources are endless, and one needs to often look no further than their university of college campus, or to the internet to find groups of people willing to accept and be a part of a world where homophobia is history.

It took a lot for me to write this.  Thinking about what kind of backlash I’d get from my peers for writing it, or the support on the flip side of the coin.  Then I realized that’s the whole point.  Make it known, take a stance, be brave.  Let people know what you stand up for, what you believe in.  I believe in equality, I believe in tolerance, and I believe in he capacity of human beings to make a change.  I was sent a quote yesterday “Well behaved women rarely make history.” (Laurel Thatcher Ulrich).  So I refuse to be polite when people start being homophobic, if this is “misbehaving” sign me up.

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