For far too many years, LGBT people have had to watch our lives and loves debated on national television. "From the left"/"From the right." Red versus Blue. Voices from organizations like GLAAD forced to dignify voices that have admitted they see gays as "pawns of the enemy." If you've consumed media in the past few decades, you certainly know the drill.
For LGBT people and our allies, the sparring matches are nothing short of enraging. When GLAAD launched the Commentator Accountability Project, this fatigue with the status quo was the big motivator. Those of us who shaped the project were tired of seeing people like Harry Jackson or Bryan Fischer talk one way when chatting up Chris Matthews and then talk a whole other way when in a more like-minded forum. We knew (and know) that they rhetoric goes beyond "agree to disagree" politics, and their desired points are more than just counterpoints to our desire to live and love in a peaceful kingdom we call America. The goal was to recocnile reality with rhetoric, in hopes that print and on-air debates would become more honest, transparent, and handled in the spirit they deserve, with the audience getting the context they need.
The fact of the matter is that our goals are human goals, not political ones. Employment protections? Immigration equity? Just handling of hate crimes? Fair treatment under civil law? Protecting kids from bullying? Only in a contrived "culture war" setting could any of these matters turn into two-sided, equally-merited conversations fit for cable TV debate. Had the opposition movement not been so dogged and determined to craft and militantly push a counter-script onto the national conversation, most (if not all) of these matters would have been settled long ago. Sure, intolerance would likely still be around, since LGBT people have eons of stigma and stereoptype to get beyond. However, if there had not been such an organized attempt to fight us—and by us, I mean fair-minded human beings of all sexual orientations and gender identities —then there would not have arisen a need for a project like GLAAD CAP.
But there was. And there is. We have made amazing strides and are seeing real change in society. We do, however, still have more dots to connect. We have more minds to open and hearts to enliven.
Which brings me to Spirit Day.
With its impressive list of personalities, superstars, sports figures, and so on dressing up in their finest purple duds to take a highly visible stand against bullying, the American public gets a real image of how disconnected from contrived politics this whole peace of mind thing really is. The day has become so much a part of the calendar year, that one can't help but notice. With that notice, comes questions for folks of all ages. "Why is that whole panel of anshors wearing purple?" "Why does that sports team seem a little more colorful today?" "Did that purple sweater come back from the dry cleaners so that I too can take part in this lavendar-hued fun?"
With these questions come conversation among engaged minds. One stops and thinks of bullying and whether or not they are against it. Hopefully, the answer is yes. Whether it be verbal, phsyical, emotional, or spiritual, I'm confident that we've reached a point where firm rejection is the consensus position.
So okay, you don't support anyd of these forms of bullying. Well, why? Is it because you have too many other extracurriculars to carve out time for some good old fashioned aggression? Hopefully not. Hopefully it's because you, as a human, understand that other humans born into this crazy world of ours deserve to go through the day without fear or persecution. Hopefully you stand against such aggression/opporession for thoroughly human reasons.
Once humanized, you think of what's going on across the country. Certain people's rights are put on the ballot. Certain matters of family are still debated as "social issues." Certain human beings are still subjected to TV debates where those who want to "change" them are presented to the public as mere TV pundits.
Is that okay with you? Are human rights and protections really up for public popularity contests and Fox News segments? Or, when you stop and think about it, do you realize that LGBT Americans have been bullied for far too long by a general dynamic that puts our lives and loves up to a constant string of tests which are routinely filled with cruel demonization of who we are as people?
Wear it proudly on this Spirit Day, flaunting your finest fashion for all the world to see. But think about it in a way that goes beyond just the garments themselves. The purpose of the day is more than cosmetic. The lives underneath the sweaters are far too valuable for continued debate.