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What Would You Do?

I just read a “diary entry” about a gay man’s experience on a flight right after the election parties started to be cleaned up and the deep sighs of relief of lesbians and gays were felt across the country. We won! We don’t have to fear that over the next four years all of the progress this country has made will be stripped away. In addition, the wave of marriage equality is rippling across the country. But the people who try to hold us down, those that think we are less than, those that believe we deserve to be treated with less dignity and respect, are still out there. If confronted by one of these sadly still close-minded people, what would you do? Better yet, what would you have done had you been on a flight where a gay man was being harassed, bullied even, by a homophobic couple? The author of the diary posting experienced just that the day after the election. He was seated beside a couple on a flight and upon seeing his rainbow Obama pin a conversation ensued in which he was called “sick,” “a sinner,” and was told that “something was wrong with him.” When he finally could no longer take the abuse he raised his head and said to those on the flight, “ladies and gentleman, I am 23 years old and this older couple is harassing me about my sexuality, and telling me I am lesser than. I am not lesser than. Would someone please say something?” The only response he got was a woman who stated that she didn’t want an altercation to delay the flight. Now this story has a happy ending, and the flight attendants took care of the man and moved his seat, and others eventually came forward and confirmed that the couple harassed him. The airline even escorted him to baggage claim.

BUT, what would you have done? Would you have remained silent if you had heard the hate coming out of these people’s mouths? Would you have just wanted to avoid confrontation even as you saw the tears in his eyes and the ignorance and hate in theirs? I have no way of knowing if there were other LGBTQ people on this flight, but I hope that if any of us had been there we would have spoken up the first time, not just later when the flight attendants showed their compassion. It’s important that we support each other and never tolerate hearing such hate. It’s easy to sit in silence. It’s easy to ignore a confrontation that is not directed at you. It is easier to ignore hate than it is to try to extinguish it. But if we are to expect others to support us in our fight for equality we must also support each other. We should stand up for one another and intervene if we hear others bullying and spreading hate. It must be done without fighting hate with hate, but by fighting ignorance with education, and putting faces to the LGBTQ labels. It should be taught that we are also mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, teachers and students, daughters and sons. We are not less than, and we are a part of every community, every race, every religion, and even every political party. Let’s stand up for each other, and let others know that they are not alone. What would you have done if you were on that plane? Let us know in the comments below.

About Dawn

Dawn is a Chicago area native and loves the city she calls home. With a strong passion for both the field of psychology and LGBT issues, she strives to combine the two through gender and sexuality research. As the Women’s Outreach Chair for the Illinois chapter of the Human Rights Campaign she reaches out to the lesbian community to further their involvement in the fight for equality. Whether putting on fundraisers or spreading the word about equality at local festivals, she is always thinking of new ways to serve the LGBT community. When not doing research or fighting for equal rights, she loves to take long walks around the city, enjoy the street festivals, go camping, and hunt for the best Persian food in Chicago!

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