From Diversity To Sameness, A PRIDE Meditation

It is Pride season again, and on Saturday I was at the Pride event in Long Beach CA to help out the San Gabriel Valley LGBTQ Center which I volunteer at these days. This was the first of several events I will be going to over the next few weeks, and others stretching over the next month or two.

One of the people I was with made the comment that “We really are a diverse group here!!” The comment got me thinking, and re-opened my eyes to something that has amazed me in the relatively few years I have recognized that I am part of the LGBTQIA**** (the letters keep adding on) alphabet soup of life that does and will exist. My friend was right about the scope of the diversity that does exist and is on display at Pride events without shame and yes, with PRIDE in what and who each individual really is.

To many people Diversity is one of those concepts that ranks up with blasphemy against a deity and the most horrendous of demons the Evil One (human imagination) has ever created. A person who is different is to be hated, feared, shamed and made valueless. The fear of diversity fuels minds to pull away from others, and to protect themselves by taking on feelings of superiority and exclusiveness above the different person. For the most part people with those feelings are good people in many many ways, but the fear and false god of superiority they have created masks that goodness terribly.

At Pride events such as the one I was at, the diversity is so intense and so visible that after a moment or two the differences become the sameness of those who participate in them. We celebrate our differences to achieve our sameness and oneness by mentally stripping off the visual differences that at first overload us and can be dizzying to the point of a feeling of sickness for some who fit the pattern I described above. With the sameness we become even more aware of the other person’s humanity, and begin to look for the good elements that we share and find them more readily. Our conversations become how to help each other and take that helpfulness beyond those immediately with us. We reassure ourselves of our value, and explore new ways to add to that value in all ways, not just for ourselves, but those of our fellow humans who fear us and thus hide themselves deeper and deeper from the good that we could share fully.

The LGBTQIA**** margin is not the only place where this can be present. The reason for other Pride events such as cultural gatherings of people “othered” and devalued, or even those of persons with what are declared to be disabilities, or mental diversity do the same thing, and people of different margins, as well as those who consider themselves “mainstream” are invited to submerge themselves in those groups by the same process of celebrating the diversity that will create the sameness of humanity.

One group though who has suggested that it hold massive “Pride” events does not suggest their pride to be a celebration of diversity within that group, but rather enforced rigidity of an imagined sameness for only that group. Where that has been tried in recent months, there has been universal tragedy in many ways, the least of which has been murder. A celebration of false arrogance and even more false superiority is a hell on earth, and not a thing of pride, only of tears that they are afraid to show.

I could have been in this last group believing it’s agenda and set of beliefs, but I was not allowed to be there because of something strange and wonderful in me that I did not accept about my life for over 50 years until it was celebrate or die with my Gender Dysphoria. Today it is so “ordinary” for me to see inside of the differences in the outsides of people that I forget the lesson I relearned this past week.

Pride and Peace be in your lives.

Shared by Vicky Mitchell, a proud member of the LGBT+ community

In The News – 2nd Annual ProjectQ Fundraiser Ball

Every other Monday, ProjectQ’s founder Madin Lopez takes a trip out to the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s homeless youth center. While there, they cut hair for the tenants as well as anyone using the self-bettering services available. More and more people of all genders show up looking for the perfect ‘do’. Their favorite phrase to hear is “I heard I can get cleaned up on Mondays.” This keeps them looking fresh for job interviews and keeps their confidence up. These youth deserve more than having a sense of style, having self-esteem is what will help them manoeuver the world with their head on their shoulders.

ProjectQ’s Mission:

To use hair as a form of social justice and create a safe space for LGBTQIA youth to find their identity. ProjectQ is a non-profit organization founded by Madin Lopez to help LGBTQIA and homeless youth combat bullying, develop self-esteem and find an identity for themselves through hair styling. For the past six years, they have worked with different organizations to realize this goal.

CLICK HERE to learn more about their upcoming fundraising event and how you can help.

Joy Reid’s Apology to the LGBT Community

Joy Reid – Screen capture from MSNBC

“I look back today at some of the ways I’ve talked casually about people and gender identity and sexual orientation and I wonder who that even was. But the reality is that like a lot of people in this country that person was me” – MSNBC anchor Joy Reid.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve likely heard about the recent revelation of homophobic and transphobic Tweets and blog posts from MSNBC’s Joy Reid. Some members of the LGBT community have given her the benefit of the doubt relatively quickly while others have accused her of outright lying, saying that she is simply trying to salvage her career. I have remained relatively quiet on the subject until now, as I needed to further study the situation.

Joy has been a strong ally of our community for some time. Like her, I too grew up in a conservative (not necessarily politically, but definitely socially) household. What was considered right and wrong was largely driven by what “the man” standing “up there” reading from “the book” in church on Sunday morning told us to believe. And we didn’t dare ever “question God.” Of course, me being me, when I was told that, my first question was “Why not?” But I digress…

Many of us of a certain age who grew up in certain parts of the United States can likely relate to where Joy’s coming from and to her evolution. I know I can. It was hard enough coming to terms with my own sexual orientation, which, to be clear, I believe with every fiber of my being I was born with, but as I became aware that some folks actually struggled with their gender identity I too was guilty of not understanding and reacting based on fear rather than understanding. It’s not been until relatively recently in the grander scheme of things that my thoughts and beliefs have evolved. I am confident that Joy’s have as well.

I know that for me LGBT issues are a big thing. They haven’t always been, and I have acknowledged that I too was one of “those gays” that other activists talked about. I can’t help but wonder if the same is true of Joy. We each have our own timeline. I for one am happy to have someone with her presence as an ally so I personally choose to forgive her and move on.

CLICK HERE to watch Joy’s official apology.

Charles Chan Massey is the co-founder and Executive Director of The Personal Stories Project. He refers to himself as an “Accidental Activist” because just as he didn’t choose to be gay, he didn’t choose to become an activist. Activism chose him. You can reach Charles at .

 

Day of Silence 2018

“Today is GLSEN’s #dayofsilence Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life. Define yourself! I stand and fight for those in the LGBTQ community who do not have tools and privilege to speak up.” – Michael Garcia

From GLSEN’S official Day of Silence website:

“GLSEN’s #DayofSilence is a student-led national event where folks take a vow of silence to highlight the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ people at school. In 1996, students at the University of Virginia organized the first Day of Silence in response to a class assignment on non-violent protests with over 150 students participating. In 1997, organizers took their effort national and nearly 100 colleges and universities participated. In 2001, GLSEN became the official organizational sponsor for the event.

Nearly 4 in 5 LGBTQ students don’t see positive LGBTQ representation in their curriculum, nearly 9 in 10 experience verbal harassment, and almost a third miss school for feeling unsafe or uncomfortable. The Day of Silence is a national movement to highlight the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ students in school, which demands that school leaders take action to be more inclusive.”

This morning I saw that Michael had posted the picture above and asked his permission to share on our page. Before doing so I also Googled “Day of Silence” so I could post more information and was saddened, yet not surprised, that the first entry that came up was from the so-called “American Family Association,” an organization designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and with good reason – their post lists all the reasons they think parents should keep their kids home for the day if their school participates in Day of Silence.

Here’s just a little bit of what they had to say (from their website; I won’t link directly to such groups, but it’s easy to find by Googling “American Family Association Day of Silence”):

“During this all-day event, student activists and even school officials encourage students to be silent for the entire day as a sign of solidarity with the international LGBT movement. Students are encouraged to wear special pro-homosexual badges, stickers, and bracelets – which are often handed out at the school entrances that day. There are also pro-LGBT posters in the hallways, handouts, and even workshops. Although the adult activists claim that the ‘Day of Silence’ (DOS) is put together by ‘students,’ it is in fact organized behind the scenes by adults with the enthusiastic cooperation of school officials. They use materials and instructions from a national homosexual activist group. You can actively oppose this hijacking of the classroom for political purposes and help de-politicize the learning environment by keeping your child out of school if your child’s school participates, promotes or allows ‘Day of Silence’ activities.”

My favorite parts? Their implication that GLSEN is a “national homosexual activist group” and the words “hijacking of the classroom for political purposes.” Puleez! GLSEN’s actual goals are very different. They believe that every student, in every school, should be valued and treated with respect, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. They believe that all students deserve a safe and affirming school environment where they can learn and grow. What I wouldn’t have given to have had access to GLSEN when I was a student!

My advice to today’s students? Speak up and speak out. Speak loud and be proud. Don’t let them silence you; don’t let them try to stop you from being yourself.

We are proud to support GLSEN as one of our annual donation recipients to help them further their important and life-changing work. CLICK HERE to make a donation today, and select GLSEN from the drop-down menu.

Thank you, Michael, for continuing to speak out. It’s young people like you who make the world a better place.

Charles Chan Massey is the co-founder and Executive Director of The Personal Stories Project. He refers to himself as an “Accidental Activist” because just as he didn’t choose to be gay, he didn’t choose to become an activist. Activism chose him. You can reach Charles at .

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