By: Andrea Johnson
Many of us would agree that the LGBT community has in one way or another been marginalized, often having the fate of their rights placed in the hands of the general public. There are some organizations that make it a little more difficult for the LGBT community, but there are also those who make it easier. While the “God Hates Fags” sign toting picketers like to show up at pride events, Revel and Riot counters that with their “God Hates Bags” bag. The small acts of one person or a company can go a long way, either negative or positive.
The Chick-fil-A fiasco is slightly less ‘in your face’ than “God Hates Fags”, yet has caused quite a stir within the LGBT community. For those of you who have not been witness to the Chick-fil-A happenings, Dan Cathy, the president of Chick-fil-A, made a statement about same-sex marriage on a radio show. According to the Christian Post he claimed that “we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage…I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.” Needless to say, people are offended. Who would have thought you could now take a stand for or against marriage equality by eating (or not eating) a chicken sandwich. The sad part is… it is actually happening. The exciting part is, there are some amazing people within the LGBT community who have paved the way (and who continue to do so) for future generations! The small minds of any anti-LGBT establishment has no bearing on them whatsoever, and that is why they are fabulous and need to be honored.
In case you are wondering, LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender. The acronym LGBT represents a unified community, yet each letter comes with its own unique group of people with unique characteristics, issues and concerns. They are valuable members of society and if you look, you will find LGBT trailblazers in every nook and cranny, including but not limited to the entertainment industry, politics and sports.
In May 2012, lead singer of the band Against Me! shared her story with Rolling Stone magazine and came out as transgender. Born as Tom Gabel, she was planning to live as Laura Jane Grace and stay married to her wife, while continuing to perform. This was a huge deal as no one from such a popular band had ever come out so publicly as transgender. She is showing the world that it is okay to be who you are, regardless of what preconceptions may exist about you. Grace says she has suffered from gender dysphoria her whole life, and is now finally ready to take the steps to become herself and be happy! Against Me! is a punk band that has now taken a gender stereotype and bent it right in the public eye. Grace’s confidence and the bands acknowledgement will push transgender awareness to the headlines, which may just be what we need.
In a popular study done by Alfred Kinsey, he argues that “the heterosexuality or homosexuality of many individuals is not an all-or-none proposition”. While many people claim to be either heterosexual or homosexual, Kinsey claims there are times when those people are not consistent, and therefore can be placed on a scale, with heterosexual and homosexual at the extreme ends. Bisexuality is basically anywhere on the scale that is not at either extreme end. Angelina Jolie identifies as bisexual, as she confirmed during an interview with Barbara Walters. She claimed that she would have married her lover Jenny Shimizu if Angelina was not already married to a man. Angelina has graced the big screen in several movies, including Girl, Interrupted, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider just to name a few. Her talents on and off the screen (she is a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency) have served society in ways that most people cannot even fathom. She may have stolen Jennifer Aniston’s man, but don’t be fooled, Angelina Jolie’s attractions are not defined purely by sex.
Aside from all the LGBT presence in the entertainment industry, those in the community have also made great progress in the political arena. Libby Davies is the MP for Vancouver East, as well as the NDP Deputy Leader and the federal NDP Spokesperson for Health. Davies recently addressed the Parliament in an attempt to include transgendered, transsexual and gender-variant Canadians in the Canadian Human Rights Act as well as the Criminal Code, arguing that they did not receive the same protections as the rest of Canadians do. She has spent countless hours working to make Vancouver East, and Canada, a better place to live for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or identity.
Another politician that was part of the LGBT community was Governor of New Jersey, Jim McGreevey. McGreevy served as Governor for a short time of three months after being elected in 2001. Prior to being Governor, McGreevy had various political roles, including Mayor of Woodridge Township, NJ, as well as the New Jersey State Senate. Although McGreevy started his political career in the closet, he became the “first openly gay man to serve as governor of a US state,“ and that is something that deserves applause.
Mark Leduc was a Canadian boxer who won a silver medal at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games as well as several National Championships in Canada. In a CBC story on July 24th, 2009 he was spoken of as a gay role model. Leduc came out very publicly in a retirement announcement; we can all respect how difficult that must have been. Seriously though, the more people in these positions who come out, the easier it will potentially be for future generations to come out. Boxing is a masculine sport, so Leduc’s coming out breaks away at the stereotype that gay guys are feminine, among numerous other stereotypes. At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with being feminine… there are some guys who can rock a 4 inch pair of stilettos better than most women, and that is an accomplishment in and of itself!
The people listed in this article are a small representation of a huge population. There is a massive community of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and who have contributed greatly to the growth of our society. They are politicians, actors, actresses, models, authors, athletes, singers, scientists, soldiers, and everything in between. Becoming aware of the LGBT presence in day to day life, as well as in pop culture, helps to normalize a way of life that has been suppressed, and thus creates a more accepting and loving future society.
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