“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Embracing Equality

I have been watching the new BBC3 series Queer Britain with fascination. I have many LGBT friends, who are just that - my friends - simply because I like them as unique individuals.

But the topics which each of the programmes have covered - faith, body image, homelessness, and ethnicity, have never been so clearly defined for me within the LGBT context. So I have learned much, and have new insights about what it means to be an LGBT person in the UK today.

Some of the stories have been heartbreaking - it seems that discrimination in all its nasty forms is alive and well, not only among heterosexuals, but also within the LGBT community. The issues of body image and race have great potency - one black lesbian woman commented sadly on the latest programme: "I feel like a triple minority - black, lesbian, and female."

And I thought: "Sh*t! She's right - I get that." Because as a straight, white woman, I am only too aware that I shelter behind two bastions of often unconscious privilege, but can understand from the inside what discrimination against women looks like. And can understand what having body image issues feels like, although I had not formerly appreciated their particular significance for many LGBT folk.

Ultimately this is all about judging people by how they identify themselves or how we identify them - by what they look like, how they dress, the colour of their skin, their age, and their sexual orientation. Whenever we judge people by what they *are*, rather than for their behaviour, we are guilty of being non-inclusive, on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation, skin colour, age, size and [dis]ability, to name the most common nasty behaviours. Which seem to be all to prevalent in UK society today, no matter what we look like or whom we are attracted to.

Why do we do this to ourselves, to each other? We are all human beings, each one unique, each one worthy of love and justice and respect, each one with unique gifts to offer. As my friend Yvonne remarked when I shared this post with her: "everyone is an unique combination of beauty and diversity, and we should celebrate that. And each form of oppression of that beauty and diversity is different, with its own distinct history which is different in different places, which is why we need feminism, and LGBT liberation, and Black liberation, and the disability rights campaign, ... rather than a single munged-together "human" campaign."

We need to be aware of ourselves and each other as "unique combinations of beauty and diversity" and to respect and appreciate the struggles that each of us goes through to be recognised as such.

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