Amber Skye Forbes

Writing Words With the Tips of My Toes

Turn Away the Gays: An Issue of Basic Human Rights

Arizona

pjmedia.com

I’m not even sure how controversial this post is going to be. In fact, I’m hoping it won’t be considered controversial at all, because the main topic is about human rights–that no other rights or beliefs should trump human rights, and that includes the right of someone to practice their religion.

Recently Mississippi passed a law called ‘Turn Away the Gays’ that makes discrimination against GSM people legal. (This actually isn’t a new thing, because several states have this, dating back to February 2014. I just happened to recently find out because I had a friend who posted this and was so beyond angry because of what this would mean for him and his boyfriend. This just points to the fact that this is being swept under the rug because of all the gay marriage news out there.) You can refuse to provide these people services, and I believe this can extend to hiring practices as well. But it has to be based on “sincere” religious beliefs in order for this discrimination to stand. Thankfully there are people fighting it, but my heart is broken, I am sad, and I am hurt. And it’s making me very, very sick that there are people out there who feel like they have the right to discriminate based on their mere discomfort of those on the GSM community, based on their “sincere” religious beliefs, because serving these people would go against their conscience. I just can’t sympathize. I think all religions are equal, but I do not think ANYONE, no matter their religion, lack of religion, politics, or any group affiliation sharing similar beliefs should be allowed to trump human rights that these people deserve!

“How come gays have more rights than me?” they say. “Doesn’t my religion matter?” they say. I know people who have personally said this to me. And I say, “Well, what if everyone thought the way you did? Those in the GSM community would forever be out of work. They would forever have their basic human rights denied, and that includes being able to have a job if they meet the basic qualifications to have that job. They can’t change who they are, and they shouldn’t have to hide who they are–because you don’t. They could be turned away everywhere.”

I don’t like to pull the privilege card. I feel like talking about privilege, especially when you point fingers, does nothing to further the conversation about what certain groups of people still face. However, in this case, there is blatant privilege for straight people that isn’t subtle. One man was furious that I dared to tell him he will never have to know what it’s like to be discriminated against because he’s straight. He fought back that he was discriminated against because of his beard (which he chose to grow)–and his age. I don’t doubt the existence of ageism. However, when you have centuries of institutionalized oppression, you can’t really know what it’s like to be discriminated against at the level those in the GSM community have faced. He was at least allowed a job at one point. He has benefits from having been a veteran in the army. He has social security, and I believe he has retirement benefits from retiring as a teacher. The point is, he has benefits that GSM people can be without if they lose their jobs because of their sexualities or gender identities. And it wasn’t too long ago that gays in the army couldn’t openly serve. There are also lots and lots of stories of teachers being fired for coming out as gay. A Google search will reveal this.

I don’t understand why this is so hard to understand. No one’s political beliefs or religious beliefs or whatever beliefs have any right to trump basic human rights, which is sorely lacking among the GSM community. They have the right to have ALL of the same rights that everyone else has without those rights being called special privileges. And they don’t have those rights. The rights they are gaining are being called special privileges by others, and this sickens me.

I thought we were making strides, especially with the proliferation of states legalizing gay marriage. I really thought we were. I know for some gays gay marriage means nothing because they would simply like to walk down the road without being beaten. But I saw the legalization of gay marriage as a baby step into getting others to realize these are PEOPLE who deserve the same RIGHTS as US. Not to mention there are those in the GSM community who are religious and should not be denied their religion, and that includes being able to be married at a church!

We’re regressing. One step forward. Fifty steps back. Am I allowed to say we’re regressing back to what amounts to the Jim Crow era? You can feel free to criticize me on this point. I just can’t think of any other comparison. We can argue they should simply hide their sexual or gender orientations, but why should we erase them? Erasure IS oppression. Erasure is hurtful. Erasure contributes to suicide statistics among the GSM community. Erasure contributes to anxiety and depression.

I was dealt a very low blow yesterday that I feel like I need to share, especially for others who have experienced something similar. I feel like sharing my story will open communication for those who are asexual or another erased identity. The bit of news I just listed above compounded it to the point where I’m still angry and still filled with A LOT of anxiety and sadness. I want to find some way to numb myself from the hurt.

We choose our friends. We choose to let some go. But the friends we let go doesn’t make the letting go any easier, just because we realize that it’s toxic to keep those friends around.

Yesterday I discovered from a friend of mine that someone who I had known for several years, someone I spent frequent time with during my college campus days–along with two other friends–said some very disgusting things about me and the friend who told me what he said. I opened my soul to this person, allowed him in my life. He inspired the name for the literary magazine I started with my best friend, who used to be his best friend as well. He interviewed our literary magazine. He interviewed me when my book was released by AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. We have a history together of openness and honesty. How can I trust anyone ever again? People can change in a snap, and he did. Just yesterday, my fiance told me all people are the same at their core. Sometimes I wonder if this is true.

There are people out there who believe legalizing gay marriage is a slippery slope to legalizing pedophilia. I’m not even going to go into this. My friend and I, both part of the GSM community, fiercely support the rights of this community, because while we are part of sexual orientations that don’t receive as much attention as homosexuals do, we’re still threatened with possible discrimination, just for being different. It doesn’t matter that she and I are in “straight” relationships. It certainly didn’t matter to him, because he said the most disgusting, hurtful things to us, and I’m wondering if anything else can trump it.

He was speaking with a friend of his on FB about my friend and I because his friend posted an article about pedophiles trying to fight for their rights due to the legalization of gay marriage across many states. (For one thing, pedophilia and homosexuality shouldn’t even be in the same sentence. They don’t belong together. They are incomparable.) He said that because she and I supported gay marriage that we’re eventually going to support the movement to legalize pedophilia. And he stated he knew this for a fact.

This isn’t the worse.

I unfriended him because of this attack, this disgusting, judgmental accusation.

I messaged him, telling him I didn’t appreciate what he said about my friend and I, that it was patently wrong, hurtful, and that he was being a terrible friend for having said what he did. “What happened to you?” I asked him. “You never used to be this way. You never would have even thought to erase my asexual identity. Back then, you would have wanted to learn more about it.”

He messaged me telling me he was just being honest, sincerely believing that in just five to ten years, she and I would start fighting for the rights of pedophiles, and that by us telling him that he’s wrong and ignorant and silly, we’re actually being wrong and ignorant and silly. Not only this, but he told me in the future that I would most likely discover that I’m an asexual pedophile–with no reason, no basis to back this up, other than the fact that I identify as something other than heterosexual. And, again, he said he knew this for a fact. Let’s not even get into the fact that an asexual pedophile is a complete oxymoron. Let’s get into the idea that the only reason he said this to me is because I identify as something other than heterosexual, and that’s what kills me the most. It would be totally different if this was from a stranger. I could laugh it off. After all, one stranger, when I told him I was in a relationship, engaged to a MAN, but I’m still asexual, told me I was just wearing a mental chastity belt because I was a raped and abused woman, and he actually found this statement hilarious and meant it. So being a heteroromantic asexual doesn’t remove me from the oppression asexuals can face. What it does is give me an advantage to call out straight people on their ignorance that other romantic orientations don’t have. In any case, I don’t attach my romantic identity to my sexual orientation.

But he wasn’t a stranger. He was someone who was once my best friend. If my former best friend can think this, just imagine how many others think this. His friend thinks this as well. And friends of his friend. It was unbelievable. I shouldn’t have even read the conversation, but I had to know.

It’s easy for me to hide behind my straight relationship. The same could be said for a bisexual or a pansexual. But one’s sexual activity–or lack thereof–actually has nothing to do with discrimination.

By deviating from the typical, average, or normal sexual interests, sexual minorities are considered substandard and thus easy targets for disdain and prejudice. Contrary to conventional folk wisdom, prejudice against sexual minorities may not therefore have much to do with sexual activity at all. There is even evidence, for instance, that religious fundamentalists are prejudiced against homosexuals even when they are celibate (Fulton et al., 1999). Together, such findings point to a bias against “others”, especially different others, who are seen as substandard and deficient (and literally “less human”). “Group X” is targeted for its lack of sexual interest even more than homosexuals and bisexuals are targeted for their same-sex interests. –Gordon Hodson, Psychology Today.

Human rights are being denied. I don’t understand how, in 2014, we can still be doing this.

I truly don’t.

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