Thursday, October 21, 2010

LGBT Rights

If you don't know by now, I am pro-gay rights. If you don't like that, leave now. Don't bother harassing me with flames, just go read something else.

The Stonewall Center at UMass Amherst is currently celebrating it's 25th anniversary. They have a number of events going on and if I was still childless and single I'd probably go check out more of them. Amy Ray from the Indigo Girls has a concert coming up and tickets are only $25 I think. Wow!

Amy Ray, American singerImage via Wikipedia

I'd love to go, but it's not going to happen. What did happen was I stumbled across an event at the university library where a panel of speakers each gave a short speech with their ideas of how the last 25 years had gone, but none of them could limit themselves to 25 years. Most went back to the 70s when their college days were blooming. Here's a list of who they were:

October 20: Local History
-Bambi Gauthier, local LGBT community archivist
-Pat Griffin, Professor Emerita of Social Justice Education, University of Massachusetts
-Mary McClintock, Advisory Board member, Valley Women's History Collaborative
-Bet Power, Director of the Sexual Minorities Archives and Founder of the East Coast FTM Group
-Allen Young, author of Out of the Closets: Voices of Gay Liberation
UMass at Amherst, W.E.B. Dubois Library at nightImage via Wikipedia

And I didn't know it until after the event, since the speakers didn't
introduce themselves, but Bambi is a guy. Bet is ... well look at what Bet founded and figure it out yourself. Bet spoke first and then Bambi, and then Pat, Mary, and finally Allen.

I wasn't planning on staying, but I stood near the back and didn't leave until they were done talking. It was fun to hear "North Star" mentioned. I hadn't thought about the North Star in a long time. Someone also mentioned a memory of lesbian women not being allowed to have long hair. A bar fight broke out because a woman had a pony-tail and that was taboo at the time. I can't remember when she said this happened, maybe early 80s. I know the North Star was late 80s-early 90s.

However what none of them touched upon was the subject of LGBTs as parents. I was disappointed by this. Gay marriage has been hot politically for a few years now, but how come no one is talking about LGBTs as parents? I tried to ask the panel for their histories on this, but none of them were parents. One man in the audience, who might have been the moderator, tried to answer my inquiry with a comment about how a lot of gay men are being sperm donors for lesbian couples, but that wasn't really where I was going with my inquiry.

In the early 90s the gay/lesbian community was debating within itself whether or not it should/could include bisexuals. (They hadn't gotten as far as the Transgenders yet.) The panelists remember this, and some of them were in the rooms where this was debated and decided. I've never been a member of the lesbian community but I remember this time too. I supported the bisexuals who wanted to be included, but of course since I wasn't a member of the in-crowd all I did was watch from the outside and see how it played out. It was during this same time that I first heard about and met women who identified themselves as "lesbian moms". It would be a few more years before I heard about or met gay fathers. I remember knowing a guy who had a father who was either a cross-dresser or a transgender (I forget which). What was really great about that was my friend was very accepting of his dad/mom. So I wanted to hear more about things from this perspective and I was disappointed. I think someone should cover this angle at a future event. I think there is a history to be told and I think there are a lot of perspectives to be covered- kids who were with heterosexual parents where a parent came out of the closet, and kids who were raised in families where the parents were out of the closet all along have different stories to tell. Parents who themselves had to come out, fight for custody (or give up on getting it), and then get on with their new lives. Also there are the  parents who lost a spouse because the spouse came out. Let us not forget the parents who have gay children. That really needs to be addressed right now. With all the teens killing themselves lately, acceptance has to begin at home. And then even if you accept your gay child, how can you help them to cope with the homophobia all around? I guess this isn't all strictly college-level material. Maybe that's why they didn't cover it yesterday.

Stepping off my soapbox now...

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