Why Gay Pride Matters

I’ve recently been hearing a lot of straight folks say things like, “Why do the gays have to flaunt their sexuality?” or “Why is there a gay pride parade? You know that people would freak if there was a straight pride parade!” or “What happens in the bedroom is your business, but don’t flaunt it.  I don’t want to have to see that sh*t.”

On the more innocent side, I’ve had a few straight young people ask me to explain Gay Pride, particularly as this month is (officially) LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) Pride Month.  They seem a bit confused as to why Pride expressions look the way that they do or even exist at all.  Well, in honor of LGBT Pride Month, I figured I would explore a little of why Pride matters!

Despite some popular perceptions, Pride is not simply an excuse for scantily-clad gay men to dance around on colorful floats (though that is an awesome part of any Pride parade).

Nor is Pride simply about throwing a middle finger to the Straight world (though that also can be a pretty fun part of Pride).

Nor is Pride simply an excuse to get pretty drunk and party like its 1999.

Pride actually has 3 main premises:

  1. People should be proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
  2. Diversity is a gift, a gift we should celebrate.
  3. Sexual orientation and gender identity are inherent and cannot be intentionally altered, so we should celebrate ourselves as we are – Whether we are Lesbian, Gay, Straight, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, or somewhere in between, we were Born This Way.

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“Jesus Wasn’t White” – Reflections on Race, Power, and Christian Symbolism

When I taught a Freshmen Social Studies class called “World Studies,” I always made sure that we spent 6 weeks on a unit on major world religions.  After all, one path to peace is through education and understanding.  During that unit, I described the most basic teachings of many of the world’s major religions.  Considering that I taught in a primarily-Black school, when I put together a slideshow about Christianity, I included this picture of Jesus:

Upon coming to this slide in the class, I was astounded to hear my mostly-Black students saying things like, “That’s not Jesus!” or “Jesus wasn’t Black!  He was White!”

“How do you know,” I asked the students.  “Have you ever seen Jesus?”

One kid responded, “I’ve been Christian my whole life, and I’ve never seen a Black Jesus.”

I thought of this story when I visited the Focus on the Family Visitor’s Center in Colorado Springs yesterday.  I was curious to see what such a place would be like considering that I often find myself on the opposite side of many issues from Focus on the Family when advocating for political change.  Among other things, I learned that “Homosexuality has a cure! It’s Jesus!”  I also learned that there is some unexplained connection between a teenager who looks at porn and abortion-rights advocacy.

After a while of looking around, I wandered into the book store.  I noticed that there were lots of paintings and figurines of Jesus around for purchase, but something seemed amiss.  In every single depiction of the man, Jesus was white!

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Change From Within – One Year In

Well, it appears that without my even noticing, I’ve passed my one year anniversary of blogging with Change From Within.  First, I want to send out a big THANK YOU to all of my loyal readers out there and a WELCOME to those who have only recently come across my writings.

Here are a few stats that characterize my year of blogging:

– Change From Within has seen 55 posts within 11 Categories.

– CFW has seen 176 comments from folks from all over the world.

– In my first two months of publication, an average of 537 visitors per month were coming to Change From Within.

– In the last two months of publication, an average of 1,282 visitors per month have been stopping by this humble blog.

– December 10, 2010 saw my largest number of visitors with 174 that particular day.

Here’s to another year of blogging at Change From Within.  I look forward to continuing musing about tough issues, and I look forward to new readers and more discussion over the coming year.

Power, Voice, and the Race Card

I have a tremendous amount of privilege, and I have done very little to deserve any of the privileges that I have.  I was born into a wealth in a white family in a country that is built for wealthy, white people.  I am a (mostly) heterosexual man in a culture that greatly privileges and benefits straight people and men.  My first (and only) language is English, the language that has, unfortunately, become the language of power in this world.  I was raised Christian in a culture that privileges Christians above all others, and as such, I can speak the language of Christianity.  In the words of Louis CK, “How many advantages could one person have!?”

One of the most incredible privileges that comes with my identities is the ability to have my voice valued and heard regardless of what I say.  That’s something that I talk a lot about in my work.  After all, I am a white, straight, male who earns his living as a diversity consultant.  The irony of that, which I make sure I express whenever I speak professionally, is that the things I am saying are said all the time by other people, but we just don’t listen to those voices.  Every single day, women must live the realities of sexism and sexual violence, and they speak out against them all the time, but we often tell them that they are being “overly sensitive.”  People of color point out all the time the ways in which our racially-stratified society hurts and oppresses them, yet when they do, we tell them that they are playing the “race card.”  LGBTQ folks speak all the time of the ways in which the society which is built for straight people and tells Queer folks that they are somehow dirty and wrong affects their lives and their self esteem, but again, they are accused of simply trying to use their experience to advance the “homosexual agenda.”  However, whenever I, in all my privilege, say these things, people often listen.

Now there are a host of problems with someone using their privilege on behalf of those without privilege to try to advance an agenda (which I try to check in with myself regularly to make sure I am not doing), and that can be discussed at a later time.  However, the point is that my voice is valued.  The people who are originally saying the things I say don’t have that privilege.

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Silence is Not Always Golden

As I am in the middle of some HOBY craziness (having just returned from 4 HOBY seminars this past weekend and since I am getting ready for my 7th total of the year in the coming weekend), I’ve decided to have my first ever guest blogger on Change From Within!  This is the first of hopefully many submissions by amazing people who have something powerful to say about justice, power, oppression, and community.

This week’s submission comes from an amazing HOBY Ambassador from Kentucky HOBY.  Nick Dill is a senior at Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Kentucky.  He recently posted this submission in a “note” on Facebook, and I asked him if I could republish his work here.  With his enthusiastic consent, I present to you:

Silence is Not Always Golden

By Nick Dill

So, I went to the movies today and watched the “Silence is Golden” commercial for the 800th time.

But today I started to really think about it, and I realized something.  While yes, this philosophy is great during a movie, I can’t help but think about the vast majority of Americans, and citizens of the world for that matter, that live their daily lives by this simple saying.  This fact makes me want to vomit. It sickens me. Whether  it be intentional or not, the fact remains true: Millions of Americans remain ignorant and force their friends, family, and neighbors to live in silence.

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Daily Affirmations

Recently I’ve been participating in a book club where we are reading bell hooks’ All About Love: New Visions.  Let me start by saying that if you haven’t read this book, you’ve got to pick it up.  I have never recommended a book to so many people.  I haven’t even read the whole things yet, and it is blowing my mind.  I look forward to blogging about it after I’ve read the whole book.

In the book, Hooks talks a lot about self love.  It’s not a new idea, but she very eloquently goes into great detail about how we can’t hope or expect to accountably love another person if we cannot truly love ourselves.  Part of that love is affirming oneself, reminding oneself how wonderful you are.  She is clear to make a distinction between “healthy narcissism (the self-acceptance, self-worth, that is the cornerstone of self-love)” and “pathological narcissism (wherein only the self matters)” (117), but she spends an entire chapter (“Commitment: Let Love Be in Me”) discussing the importance of healthy self love.

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