Arizona, Uganda, Actors and Athletes – How to Come Out

Over the last few weeks I've noticed that one after another people are “coming out”.  They are taking a stand and showing that they are ready to stop hiding who they are and be themselves.  Michael Sams and Jason Collins have recently come out, however we do know that they are not really the first professional athletes to be gay.

The Ugandan President signed into law today a bill that criminalizes homosexuality despite a message from President Obama urging the world to step forward into equality and not backwards.




This type of fear and hate is not limited to other countries.  Just last week Arizona sent a new law to Governor Ann Jan Brewer that would allow a business to turn away customers based on sexual orientation.  Many are concerned that the protection of ones right to do business with who they want, outweighs the rights of the individual to have access to the marketplace.

In an open letter to Governor Brewer, Out LGBT Activist and Actor George Takei stated he will boycott the state of Arizona if this measure goes through.  

A look back shows us that LGBT families in Arizona do have a right to be fearful of hatred.
As a small business owner, I understand the value of a solid customer base.  As a consumer, I also want to have access to the same goods and services that others have in my community.  I also believe that if someone wants to buy my products, because I’m a small business, I’m going to sell to them.  Let’s say that someone buys one of my necklaces and then burns it because they hate witches.  I’m ok with that.  I’ve been paid.  I really don’t have the right to be concerned with what someone does with my product after it leaves my place of business.

Now, let’s turn the tables a bit.  The sandwich at Chick-fil-a is awesome.  I would love to have it.  It’s crispy and tasty.  It is also served with a side of hate, which is not quite as palatable for me.  That means that I don’t go there and shop.  I don’t eat there, I don’t buy water there, and I don’t visit there at all.  I encourage others not to shop there and I am very clear to others exactly why I don’t shop there. 

While I understand the desire to have equality in the marketplace, I also am really confused by those who want to “make” a business do something for them.   These recent issues with wedding cakes and bakery owner’s refusing to make cakes for certain weddings.   While a baker who said, I won’t’ make a cake for an interracial marriage might be frowned on by the community, one that says I won’t make a cake for a gay marriage is applauded and supported for their freedom of religion. 

While I lived in San Diego, I was always happy when I saw businesses post the rainbow flag on their doors.  I knew that this merchant supported LGBT rights and I felt comfortable spending my money there.  In less inclusive communities it is hard to know who is on the side of equality.  That being said, I would vet my cake decorator by asking others who have used them and if I find one that doesn't want to make my cake; I’d move on.  Why have that negative energy in the best day of my life? 

I found a local restaurant using a microwave but charges $17 a plate.  I don’t go there any more.

I think the real issue here is what people thing about people when they see them.  On a recent trip to Wilson, hubby and I had a really good discussion on this.  What are people really worried about?  Do they care that a “gay” cake is made at the same place a “straight” cake is made?   What’s the big deal?

So really what this all really boils down to is what we think when we look at people.  So what do we see when we look at the following photos




Zach Wahls - Heterosexual child of Lesbian Moms



Del Martin and Phyllis Lyons - By NickGorto



Harvey Milk - By Daniel Nicoletta

Why does looking at these people equate to what they do in their bedroom.  When I look at these pictures the last thing I think of is their bedroom.  When I’m standing in line at the bank, or sitting in my car I don’t look over at the couple in the car and immediately start thinking about them having sex.  Why is it that the thought of a same sex couple immediately leads other to think of sex?  Do seeing opposite sex couples do that as well?  If so, who is really at fault here?

There are arguments against treating Gays and Lesbians equal ranging from biblical to natural.  Some say “God Intended” some say “Nature Intended”.   Each one firmly believing they have the right answer.  By far, the most ignorant argument is “I wouldn't know how to explain it to my kids.”     

Really?


Now some of you may say, no, no one really says that.  Take my word for it.  I have been approached by people in my own birth family that said those very words to me.  Here’s how you explain a gay couple to your children.


“Dave loves Steve like Daddy loves Mommy”

Or

"Shannon has two Mommies and you have a Daddy and a Mommy."

I’ll even help with a follow up question.

"Well, Shannon has two Mommies, because that’s how their family is set up.  Some families have one Mommy, some have two.  Some have two Daddies some have one.  Every family is different."

Study after study shows that children are not born with prejudice.  Hate is taught.  Stereotyping is something that is handed down to our children.  From the media, from the world and from us.  We teach them to be hateful people that believe that some families are not as good as other families.  We teach them that it is OK “this time” to single out this group of people or that group of people. 

We need to stop looking at the color of the skin, the religious choice or the gender of people to determine who they are.  We are all earthlings and we should cherish our diversity.

 
Ruby Bridges - By Uncredited DOJ photographer

Japanese-American internees at Minidoka Internment Camp, Idaho

Trail of Tears - By Wolfgang Sauber



I have a message to all those who are "coming out".  Instead of making a big press conference about it or releasing some public statement, just show up at your event with your partner.  People make a big deal out of things if you do.  While I'm all for being an out Gay or Lesbian leader in our community, I think that if we just start showing up with our partner to events maybe it won't be such a big deal.  Maybe if you get a cake from a great baker and you share their name in a tweet, that works too.  Don't be so worried about getting a head of the game and managing the media that you forget that there are people out there who don't play football or have a great spin doctor to turn the media around when they start bashing them.  

Maybe if we start here, we can try to teach those coming up that it isn't so bad to just be yourself.


Renee Olson

Wife, Witch with the Metal Skills of a Dark Elf. I spend my time working with wire, weaving life and magic.

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