Monday, May 26, 2014

How to Tell if Support Really Is

I posted this poll recently in several online forums for the LDS (aka Mormon) population. Yet the issues are the same in the Boy Scouts of America, the United Way, and virtually all other institutions.  This was the poll question:
How can you tell if your local Bishop, High Councilman, Relief Society President or Stake President is actually supportive of LGBTQ or is simply using you to feel better about themselves. [Add options to the list, vote for things you agree with. Discuss in comments.]
They write letters to orgs in your community in suport of LGBTQ equality
They speak about the need for equal dignity and rights in Church meetings
They participate in Gay Pride parades
They advocate for equal rights at board meetings of United Way, etc
They speak out publicly against employment, housing and other discrimination
Some folks felt badly about this poll, to which I responded:
I don't mean to imply any motivation attribution. I mean to suggest that secret or tacit or even sympathetic noises don't cut it. Gay people need advocacy. "Support" without advocacy is hollow, and we insist on better from our formal leaders. Their active support to end the neglect and abuse of our people is necessary. Let's know that for ourselves, and require it going forward in others. LGBTQ people aren't here to make straight people feel better about themselves. We aren't here to make it easier on anyone. We have a long history of being horribly mistreated by Mormons. There has been significant cheerleading in this forum and others--statements that confuse the matter that it remains perilous for LGBTQ people to remain within Mormonism.
The improvement in self-esteem that straight people can achieve is a by-product of difficult work well done. The items listed in the poll in the top post are examples of that. People rightly feel better, and deserve our recognition to the extent those good works are accomplished.
As our leaders come to understand their responsibilities to us, and act on those responsibilities, and treat us as more important than the risk of criticism or calling, and place our needs above those of institutional requirement for silence and continued complicity, to that extent bridges are being built to the promised land of equal dignity and service.
Polls such as this are meant to be educational, to help the out-group (in this case, LGBTQ people) understand what it is they are concretely asking for, and the in-group (in this case, straight people) to understand specifically what is needed.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome. And thanks for your active support.