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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wednesday Festival: One of Every 10 People



In a bit of shameless self-promotion, your editor is posting from her own blog today. The post also seems in keeping with today's celebration of Spirit Day, which has many of us wearing purple today to show we are taking a stand against bullying, harassment and hateful speech.

Here's what I wrote at Terrapin Station:


1 of every 10 people

From a Facebook status:

1 of every 10 people is gay. That means 1 of every 10 people is instantly put down, labeled, left alone, put in a minority and so much more, all for something they didn't choose. Many gay teens are committing suicide as a way of escaping. If you want to tell them life will get better and you respect them for who they are, copy this into your status. Most of you won't, but let's see the 5% who will.

I almost never copy in these FB status things. Mostly because they tell me to do something, and I don't want to be told what to do. They make bets on whether I'll do it; the answer is, I won't.

But the 1 in 10 is an important number for me. My sophomore year of college, I did a speech in Technical Speaking class on Ryan White. You remember him, and if you don't, please follow the link. (It was news to my class that day.) Talk about your fear-based bullying.

In my speech, I mentioned (from my careful research) that 1 in 10 people is gay. I remember the professor saying, "1 in 10! That can't be right!" I assured her that my (impeccably documented) source said it was. She and the rest of the class shook their heads in utter disbelief. I could not convince them.

There were 30 of us in that class. It was Texas A&M in the mid 1980's. It was an insanely conservative place, but also the home of the Corps of Cadets, which (anecdotes say) has at least its fair share of homosexuals.

So, probably two to three people in the class were, indeed, gay. Closeted, almost certainly. In the years to come I'd go to "the gay bar" in that town with friends. It was a scary time. Would it get raided? The building was a warehouse, completely unidentifiable from the outside. No one bought mixed drinks then; bottled beer was it, because there was a theory that you might get AIDS from a poorly-washed glass but beer bottles were safe. One of my friends from that era died, within 10 years, of AIDS, but I am entirely certain he didn't get it from a glass.

So if there were three people in that class when that statement was made, and refuted...how did they feel? Marginalized. Invisiblized. Nullified.

It's been 20 years and we are still trying to put forth the facts. It's time we spoke, shouted, screamed, loudly enough to be heard.


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7 comments:

  1. Not on the same theme (I haven't posted thoughts on that yet), but here's a post I just have share from this Sunday.

    Making it all worth it

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  2. thank you for this post, Mary Beth.

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  3. Thank you for posting this MB. It's so important.

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  4. What I've been thinking about on this topic lately is how homosexuals seem to be defined in the eyes of others (meaning those who label, usually with that "tone of voice") as only sexual beings, as if they don't have other attributes and gifts and activities. Heterosexuals know that heterosexuals have other things to do with the many hours in their days. A friend of mine is very anti-gay, due to her incessant listening to conservative "christian" radio. When she gets going on this topic, I remind her that there ARE heterosexuals who don't even sleep together. That always shuts her up since she hasn't shared her bedroom with her husband in years. We HAVE to look at all people as having just a few attributes, but labeling people always seems to diminish them to two dimensional characters.

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  5. "We HAVE to look at all people as having just a few attributes, but labeling people always seems to diminish them to two dimensional characters." This was supposed to say: having more than just a few attributes...

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  6. Yes, thank you for the post, Mary Beth

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  7. Oh my, I'm late again. However, this one is really important, Mary Beth. I remember when I didn't understand. Then, one of my childhood friends, someone I'd been close to all my life "came out". It took me a while to realize that she'd tried so hard to be "straight" -- a failed marriage with a beautiful daughter, but it wasn't my friend that left, it was her husband. After several years, she found the love of her life and I had trouble with it for quite some time. At this point these two wonderful women (who married in Canada because they couldn't get married here in Texas) are an example to me of what marriage is all about.

    They didn't choose who they were, they just are...and I must stand up for them, and so many more that I have the honor to know. It is time to honor and accept with love all those who find themselves to be homosexual. They too are children of the most high, and deserving of respect and acceptance.

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