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The other day, a friend of mine sent me a text message that said “I unsubscribed from SDGLN, just wanted to let u know.” My role here at SDGLN.com certainly does not include me being the “newsletter subscription police” but since I have been involved with this project since the beginning, I have pretty strong feelings about how amazing this little Web site is. So my response, of course, was “Why?”
His reasoning for “unsubscribing” from our “Weekly Wrap” newsletter, Facebook and Twitter pages was because he does not care about “gay news.” I should have just accepted his response and told him that I appreciated his past support of the site and moved on. But since he is a close friend, I felt the right to press a bit harder. Slightly miffed, I asked (and remember this is all through text messaging) “But isn’t gay news still news?”
He didn’t directly respond to that question, but came back at me with “I am me first, then gay. Gay doesn’t define who I am.” Fair enough, until I thought about it a little deeper. I always take time when presented with an argument to think about the other person’s point of view as if it were my point of view. I want to realize where they are coming from so that I can most effectively respond. This could also be related to the fact that sometimes I lack confidence and may be overcome by someone else’s opinion, but that is my issue that I am working on.
After thinking about it, I decided that I couldn’t be any prouder than I am now working for a LGBT news Web site. I am absolutely proud of who I am, what we are doing, and believe that we are providing a most valuable service. Those who throw around the “gay doesn’t define who I am argument” may argue back that they are just as proud of being gay as I am and just don’t need LGBT media and organizations in their lives. Again, this is a fair argument, but I argue that gay very much defines exactly who we are.
Sure, we are all human beings first. Then we are members of our own families and cultures, and then a part of whatever other affiliations we may have in our lives (careers, activities, interests, hobbies, friends, etc). These things absolutely define who we are and should always be regarded very highly – it is where we come from and what completes us as individuals. But the fact that we are LGBT changes things. We live in a world that still is home to a lot of people who hate us simply because of the fact that we are LGBT. They don’t know us, they just hate us. This very much changes the way that we interact within our families, cultures, and other affiliations.
I hear some people say things like “I don’t need to be involved in the LGBT community. Everything is fine. All of my friends are cool with me, my family is cool, I’ve never experienced discrimination, and being gay has never been a big deal for me.” Maybe that has been the case for them, and that really is great. But it is important to remember that there are thousands of other LGBT people who have not had it so easy and need all the support they can get.
We need LGBT media, organizations, and the support of the community to continue to advance our acceptance across the world. I have never advocated for every single gay person to be involved with community affairs. In fact, after some of the community organization and committee meetings I have sat through over the years, I wouldn’t wish it up on anyone.
What we do need is for LGBT people to be informed about issues that affect their community, and be ready to help out when there is a need. No matter how far removed we may feel from the “community” it is a community that we all are a part of and need to support in whatever way we feel compelled to do so.
You don’t have to do rallies, you don’t have become the next president of the local HRC chapter, you don’t even have to go to Hillcrest if that is not your thing. Just stay informed and support the community by realizing the necessity of the people that work hard every day to ensure that the fight for our equality and safety continues. Downplaying the importance of this by saying the people involved with the LGBT community shouldn’t put so much energy into it is counterproductive.
And I know that everyone, no matter how much they may say the “LGBT community doesn’t define them” certainly wouldn’t turn down an afternoon at Urban Mo’s or a drunken night at Rich’s. So be sure to thank the people who fought and continue to fight to make it safe for us to have these establishments around for all of us to enjoy.
Ben Cartwright is SDGLN's Higher Education & Nonprofit Liaison and has been a campus and community activist in San Diego for over 10-years. His community involvement began as a student at SDSU and from there he launched into a number of other community activities. He has written for a number of local publications including Update, Hillquest, and GLT. Cartwright won the Lambda Archive's 2007 "Community Hero Award"; 2008 Nicky Award for "Outstanding Community Activist"; and a 2009 Nicky Award for "Outstanding Writer/Columnist".