Across the internet right now it looks like a rainbow unicorn had a magical party, but what does it really all mean? The rainbow flag has been the icon of the LGBT human rights movement, like the equal sign for the Human Rights Campaign. The first Rainbow Flag was designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker, a San Francisco artist, who created the flag in response to a local activist’s call for the need of a community symbol. (This was before the pink triangle was popularly used as a symbol of pride.) Using the five-striped “Flag of the Race” as his inspiration, Baker designed a flag with eight stripes. Baker dyed and sewed the material for the first flag himself — in the true spirit of Betsy Ross. Though the rainbow flag itself evolved over time from it's original eight stripes to the modern seven--it still retains its original meaning as a symbol of hope, equality, strength, pride and unity through diversity.
TO FINALLY BE CONSIDERED EQUAL
As one of the millions of LGBT people in the United States this affects me directly, and to be honest, is an issue and victory I take quite personally. So in that spirit, thank you to those who stood up for equal rights, private lobbiers who took time out of their lives to fight for justice, people who volunteered thousands of hours of their time, the Human Rights Campainers—this was no easy victory, and it would not be won without every one of those freedom fighters, and you. Thank you for the support, for changing minds, and opening hearts, thank you for recognizing that everyone deserves the right to love. This is not only about LGBTQ rights, or pieces of paper; the LGBT movement is about equality, decency, and most of all; LOVE. The win for LGBTQ rights, is a win for human rights.
Unless you yourself are LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/ transexual) you might not be able to fully appreciate the tremendous positive implications this has on about 30 million LGBT Americans—this means that now a man can sit by the bedside of his terminally sick partner, and hold his hand without the nurses locking him out because he is not a legal relative or married partner, now as his husband, he can stay where he belongs, by his partners side. This means that a woman can now share her healthcare with her longtime partner to get her the medication she needs to save her life as her wife. This means couples who have waited for decades to show their commitment and love for their partner can finally hold hands and cross the threshold to say “I do.” This is not merely a political endorsement; this amendment signifies a real shift in social consciousness itself.
WHAT DOES EQUALITY MEAN?
Love is the most fundamental element of our human experience, it is what we came from and where we are going, it allows us to heal, to grow, and to learn. Loving another is one of life’s most precious gifts, and to be denied that right under law, to be discriminated for centuries has certainly diminished and even extinguished the pursuit of happiness for millions of people in the entirety of their lives. Consider that, one can belong to any number of minorities, many of which are shared with ones blood family, and in that, there is some form of support, someplace to go for shelter where you can still be oneself. Being LGBT is not necessarily shared with family or friends. To accept oneself as LGBT for many has meant a life of isolation, rejection from family, alienation from social structure, and neglect even from those safeguards meant to protect from abuses for any other citizen.
WHAT HAS A CENTURY OF DISCRIMINATION ALLOWED?
IMAGINE FOR A MOMENT, regardless of your particular orientation, that you are gay. That you are not completely sure what that means, why you feel so different, you overheard your parents talking and they suspect there is something wrong with you. Your palms sweat, your heart races, there is no escape from who you are, you just want to be accepted. You know no one understands, you know your family will disown you, your friends would abandon you, everything you love and cherish all rests on a lie the world wants to believe. This is the story for hundreds of thousands of LGBT youth every day, even in 2015 America. For all our progress we have still left thousands of people out to dry with no promise of safety, no where to turn, and that is why many end up homeless, abused, or even take their life. Mainstream USA has a tradition of creating hostile environments for anyone different, and LGBTQ have experienced no exception.
- 20% of homeless youth are LGBT. In comparison, the general youth population is only 10% LGBT.
- While homeless youth typically experience severe family conflict as the primary reason for their homelessness, LGBT youth are twice as likely to experience sexual abuse before the age of 12.
- LGBT youth, once homeless, are at higher risk for victimization, mental health problems, and unsafe sexual practices. 58.7% of LGBT homeless youth have been sexually victimized compared to 33.4% of heterosexual homeless youth
- LGBT youth are roughly 7.4 times more likely to experience acts of sexual violence than heterosexual homeless youth
- LGBT homeless youth commit suicide at higher rates (62%) than heterosexual homeless youth (29%) http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/lgbtq.html
Researchers have found that attempted suicide rates and suicidal ideationamong lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning(LGBTQQ) youth is comparatively higher than among the general population. THIS IS DUE TO MANY FACTORS: bullying, family abandonment, social alienation, abuse, depression, drug use etc.
HATE CRIMES AGAINST LGBT: (This is just a few examples; there are sadly hundreds of cases)
· October 7, 1998 – Matthew Shepard, a gay student, in Laramie, Wyoming was tortured, beaten severely, tied to a fence, and abandoned; he was found 18 hours after the attack and succumbed to his injuries less than a week later, on October 12.
· 1993 – Brandon Teena, a trans man, was raped and later killed when his birth gender was revealed by police to male friends of his. The events leading to Teena's death were depicted in the movie Boys Don't Cry.
· December 12, 2002 – Terrianne Summers, a 51-year-old trans woman and activist for transgender rights, was shot and killed in her front yard in Florida. No arrests were made and police did not investigate her murder as a hate crime. Terriane's high visibility as a trans woman due to her activist role has led her to be included in lists of anti LGBT hate crimes, although lack of police interest in her murder means the motives behind the killing may never be known.
History of violence against LGBT people in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
HISTORY OF CIVIL RIGHTS OBSTACLES AND OVERCOMING
Equal rights was a long sought and often painfully pursued progression, arguably on par with any other great Civil Rights movement. But after centuries of second class treatment, this amendment deems no person a second class citizen based on sexual orientation. Under law, millions are now protected from all the loses implied in the absence of such a safeguard. This change will prove its impact and worth as time goes on.
For the LGBT community nationwide, this is finally some kind of mainstream social validation for an entire community of people who have lived in fear as second class citizens. For us as members of society, this amendment sets a precedent for what will be socially acceptable going forward as we evolve together into greater balance and equality. Just look at what we have come from:
“Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the (FBI) and police departments kept lists of known homosexuals, their favored establishments, and friends; the U.S. Post Office kept track of addresses where material pertaining to homosexuality was mailed. State and local governments followed suit: bars catering to homosexuals were shut down, and their customers were arrested and exposed in newspapers. Cities performed "sweeps" to rid neighborhoods, parks, bars, and beaches of gay people. They outlawed the wearing of opposite gender clothes, and universities expelled instructors suspected of being homosexual. Thousands of gay men and women were publicly humiliated, physically harassed, fired, jailed, or institutionalized in mental hospitals. Many lived double lives, keeping their private lives secret from their professional ones. In 1952, the American Psychiatric Association listed homosexuality in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) as a mental disorder.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonewall_riots
Consider for one moment that only a few mere decades ago, African Americans could not vote, could not use certain buildings, could not access public places, chased off public transportation, or segregated from public schools. Consider how small minded and fundamentally wrong that is. Consider that a few mere decades ago, women could not vote, own property, or defend themselves from the abuses of their male counterparts, often sent back to the arms of an abusive male owner by police in domestic disputes. As laws are put in place to protect the integrity of all people; regardless of gender, regardless of ethnicity, and now regardless of sexual orientation, the tone of social consciousness shifts along with it.
Due to the victories in civil rights movements led by remarkable civil rights activists such as Dr. Martin Luther King and Susan B. Anthony, they were instrumental in shifting the social tone for what was considered just, what was considered right. They had the conviction to peacefully stand against status quo and challenge what they knew to be wrong, as have incredibly brave people like Harvey Milk in the gay rights movements. And while we still see there is much progress to be made, as the double standard of unfair treatment toward people based on race, sexuality and gender is still present in the US, perhaps we can take a look behind us, to see how far we have come.
From the Stonewall Inn riot in 1969, to the national equality march in which approximately 200,000 people stood for LGBT rights in Washington DC, from Rosa Parks courageous stand in 1955, and the riots in Ferguson and Baltimore, we have collectively finally recognized, there is no such thing as a second class citizen. There is no such thing as a better half. There is no such thing as a weaker sex. And love is never wrong. By its very definition, love is the highest truth, and the highest order of the highest calling.
From first hand I can tell you, for the first 25 years of my life I was chased out of women's rooms, I was mocked for dressing like a girl, I was threatened for looking like a boy. I was spit at, people drove by me and threw trash in my face at 12 years old, I have been surrounded by 8 grown men who told me they would kick my ass, stopped by cars on the road to threaten me and yell obscenities, I have been called a "f@#$%t" more often than I can count. I know the pain of not only being gay in a society that refused to accept that some women love women/ and some men love men, but also of being androgynous in a society that demands for you to pick a side, check a box, and stick to the blueprint, blue or pink, man or women, strong or weak.
DIVERSITY IS WHAT MAKES US BEAUTIFUL
That is what the rainbow means; it has become an emblem of the LGBT movement, showing pride in individuality, and strength, beauty, and unity in diversity. Consider a world where everyone was the same, eating the same, looking the same, acting the same, and working the same. One flat tone with no variation to add to the harmonics of the human experience. There is a reason we are all different. And regardless of those differences, we all have a right to be respected, protected, to live and work without fear of abuse or discrimination, and to love the person we deem worthy based on the merit of their heart, not their gender.
Author: Lisa Falcon G, proud to be LGBT since 1979~
grassroots self-published book: Universal Hidden Insight: the Connection Between Love, Existence and Reality.
This book is a great tool for anyone who wants to understand the bigger picture and promises to leave you informed in a whole new way, inspired and empowered! It focuses on making a real transformation in the world, through a transformation of the individual. It is a guide to facilitate a meaningful awakening in your life, even if you have already began that journey, there is always more to learn on the way! We are all in this together, we are all connected, and we can be part of the solution as we learn and evolve. The journey begins within!