Friday, October 16, 2009

My interest in LGBT activism

Having attended the National Equality March, I have had some questions along the lines of "why are you so interested in LGBT issues?" So this post will attempt to answer that question.

I am interested in human rights in general, and I started being interested specifically in LGBT rights in college. I think the first time the importance of equal rights really struck me was during the Bone Marrow Drive freshman year. I was working one of health history tables, which is where they look over your info and take your cheek cell samples. A guy came up to me (I have no idea who he was) and sat down. I looked at his paperwork, which has a spot where you put if you have any of the AIDS risk factors. He was gay, but he had noted that he had recently been tested and was HIV negative. I called over one of the nurses. She told me we had to decline him. This man was willing to give his bone marrow to save someone's life, but I had to tell him he couldn't. It was crushing for me to have to say that to him. I felt terrible (and I still feel bad about it when I think about it). Clearly society values some people less simply for their sexuality. This didn't seem right to me.

I had already encountered discrimination against people. I come from a rural, intolerant area (in many ways - not just of LGBT identified people). I made my first gay friend in 11th grade - I didn't grow up around anyone openly very different from me, but my parents raised me to be open-minded, loving, and tolerant. This friend had a lot of issues due to his family's refusal to accept who he is and teasing and ridicule at school. So I knew there were injustices. In addition to that, I had fallen in with a group of evangelical Christians who preached the wrongness of homosexuality (I never really bought it, personally, which I'm glad about).

Not long after the BMD incident, I made a lot of friends in the Lambda Alliance. Now I am a great proponent of many of the movements for LGBT rights, and have been involved in some activism. I really think everyone deserves to be treated equally, regardless of any differences they may have. So there you go.

PS - if you want to see my story on the National Equality March (which made the front page!!!) go here.

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