Wednesday, March 27, 2013

That's So Gay

I changed my profile picture on Facebook. Maybe I'm jumping on the bandwagon. I don't know. It took me by surprise when I arrived home from school on Tuesday. My feed was a sea of red and I clicked around and figured out what it was. And then I waited. I'm embarrassed that I waited. I should have done it right then, but I worried. I worried that someone might be upset with me.

The thing is, though, that I can choose whether I associate myself visibly with marriage equality. If I were gay, I wouldn't have that luxury. I was sitting on my straight privilege. I decided it was the right thing to do to change my profile picture. It's the right thing to do to wear my heart on my sleeve, especially on this issue. This is different than "teehee post your bra color for breast cancer!" Everyone is against cancer. No one is gleefully supporting cancer. Posting my bra color isn't controversial. It's slacktivism. It doesn't raise money or help anyone with cancer.

Visibly supporting the right for everyone to marry IS a big deal. Facebook is the calling card a lot of us use. It's how we identify ourselves. We post everything about ourselves. I mainly stay out of political debate on Facebook because I dislike confrontation. This is more than political debate. This is about people being denied rights and the fact that people who aren't familiar with me have no idea what my thoughts are. A coworker or new friend doesn't know it's okay to talk to me about their partner because there's no magic sign on my face that says "ally" or "homophobe". Now there's a magic sign on my Facebook that tells you that I believe all people were created equal and deserve equal rights.

As a teacher, I try to make sure that I counter the "That's so gay" comments so prevalent with today's teens. A gay student has no idea that I'm an ally until I show them with my actions. I'm trying to show that more often, as is relevant to what we are doing. It's important that students know that someone is there on their side. Gay and lesbian teenagers commit suicide at an alarming rate. Some of them just need to know that someone is there to protect them. I may not be gay, but I need to show my support as often and vocally as possible. Otherwise I'm just another random bystander who could have helped.

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