Two years ago GLAAD (formerly the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) launched a campaign to encourage us to use the Thanksgiving dinner table as a platform to make a positive impact. Although the LGBT community has a lot to be thankful for during the past few years…
- The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed the US Senate this past month.
- Provisions in the Affordable Care Act banned sex-based discrimination and protects trans* Americans from discrimination in health care
- Last year in Massachusetts, the Transgender Equal Rights Bill took effect, barring discrimination in employment, housing, education, and lending, and enabling hate crime charges in attacks that target someone for being transgender
- The GLSEN National School Climate Survey is reported to show improvements in resources for LGBTQ students this past year
- And take a look at this list of successes for the LGBT community over the past 3 years
…there’s still a long way to go. The NYCLU’s LGBT Rights Advocacy page can give you an idea about some of the many issues we are still working towards resolving.
Taking a break from your delicious meal for a minute and to talk about yourself (if you can) this Thanksgiving can make a huge difference! Discussing our lives with our families and loved ones is vital in advancing equality. It doesn’t only have potential to open people’s minds regarding politically charged issues – it gives people who might otherwise never consider those effected by institutionalized injustice a chance to put your face to these issues. GLAAD did a study in 2008 of people who said their opinions on LGBT issues changed over the past 5 years – and four out of five said that a primary reason for their shift in mentality was personally knowing someone in the LGBT community.
GLAAD’s Aunt Betty Campaign:
We’ve all had those Thanksgiving dinners where Aunt Betty decides this is the perfect time to discuss a year’s worth of ailments and medical treatments. Well, you know what? If she can talk about her podiatrist, you can talk about your partner.
The fact is, while you’re scarfing down mashed potatoes and staying silent while everyone else at the table is freely speaking their minds, you’re missing a golden opportunity to make real, honest progress by talking about your life, and the things you care about. It’s okay if Aunt Betty feels a little awkward at first, it’s important for her to know that someone she loves cares deeply about LGBT equality. And the more we all talk about what’s important to us, the less awkward those conversations will become.
Today many LGBT people can’t be open about who they are, and many won’t be in a position to discuss these issues with family members. But if you do feel comfortable and are in a safe environment, speaking openly and honestly about your life with your loved ones is one of the best ways for all of us to move forward together.
The more comfortable you are talking about your life, the more comfortable other people will be standing up for LGBT issues with their friends and co-workers. Maybe Aunt Betty will speak up and use you as an example the next time someone at her office speaks out against marriage equality.
So go ahead and tell your stories. Be true to who you are around your loved ones this Thanksgiving. And even if Aunt Betty feels a little awkward this year, perhaps she’ll be greeting you with open arms and asking you for info next year.