It used to be a common refrain from the Religious Right that we as a country shouldn’t give in to the Gay Agenda. With the increasing acceptance of different sexual and gender identities, that phrase was starting to seem rather silly.
But I am here to admit that with the changes that seem to be facing us, trying to move past despair and fear, I am starting to make up an agenda. Unfortunately, most of these are not things I can do on my own. These are all things we need to pull together to accomplish, and as of January 20, 2017, we can count on very little help from the federal government to support any of these goals.
This isn’t a complete list of what I want, but it’s some of the more realistic areas where we can take action in the political climate going forward.
So, in the spirit of being the change that scares the crap out of the religious right, here is My Big Gay Pagan Agenda.
My Big Gay Pagan Legislative Wish List:
Enact laws to ban Conversion/Reparative Therapy (State and Local)
Conversion Therapy is a damaging and debunked practice that attempts to “convert” people with same sex attractions to heterosexuality. Our new VP, Mike Pence, is an advocate for this infamous practice. Several states (California, Illinois, New Jersey, Vermont, and Oregon) have already banned this. If you can push your state and local politicians to enact a ban, I heartily encourage this. http://www.hrc.org/resources/the-lies-and-dangers-of-reparative-therapy
Enact laws to ban “Gay Panic” and “Trans Panic” legal defenses (State)
At this point only California has banned the use of “gay panic” and “trans panic” defenses in cases of murder and assault. In the rest of the country, a bad reaction to someone’s sexual or gender identity can be used as an argument for justification or mitigating circumstances for the crime. We need to acknowledge that this is pure discrimination and malice. It should not be allowed as a defense in crimes against LGBTQ people. http://lgbtbar.org/what-we-do/programs/gay-and-trans-panic-defense/
Enact laws to protect LGBTQ people from employment and housing discrimination (State and Local)
A lot of people thought that after same sex marriage went nationwide, the Gay Agenda had been completed. Far from it. In many states, people can be legally fired from their jobs or kicked out of their homes because they are LGBTQ. Efforts to push a national bill through Congress have been stalled and we are almost certainly not to see any progress with the incoming Congress. The game is at the state level. If you live in any of the states that do not have such protections, put the pressure on your elected officials. https://www.aclu.org/map/non-discrimination-laws-state-state-information-map
Change policies to de-escalate police violence against Communities of Color
This is a huge and complex issue, but Campaign Zero has a lot of concrete and useful suggestions about ways to change and de-escalate policing that too often ends in the deaths of people who pose no significant threat, and are very often not even involved in criminal activity at all. http://www.joincampaignzero.org/#vision
I wish I could add issues around environmental protection and immigration reform, but those are questions handled federally, and I’m afraid there’s little hope for progress there, only a wish that the most radical proposals fall apart or are opposed so vigorously that they can’t move forward.
My Big Gay Pagan Personal Wish List:
Visibility helps, when it comes to sexual and gender identity and when it comes to religious diversity. People are less likely to support discriminatory policies if they know that it would hurt their friends, family, and neighbors. I know not everyone feels safe doing this, and different places can have different levels of safety (out with friends and family, but not at work, for example), but try pushing the envelope. Talk about and normalize your family or romantic situation. Challenge gender stereotyping and gender essentialism. Respectfully challenge the idea that “we all believe in the same god”. Talk about the sacredness of natural places.
Strengthen our support and solidarity networks
Don’t let despair prevent you from connecting with friends, local groups, and support networks. I found this article below from Gods and Radicals to be very thought-provoking and full of ideas to keep moving forward, even if/when there are new repressive actions from the government. Although I don’t advocate illegal actions at this time, I think it’s very important to ask ourselves where the line is. Mass deportations? Religious tests for US travel? Suppression of the press? The justice system turning a blind eye to racial violence?
Stand up against harassment and violence
As has been reported in many parts of the country, violence and intimidation against Muslims, immigrant communities, and many other groups have been on the rise since the success of the Republican nominee’s campaign. Many people are noting that bigotry has been emboldened.
Support the resolve of Sanctuary Cities
My home city of Chicago is a Sanctuary City, which will not cooperate with Immigration enforcement and will not even request the immigration status of people who interact with police. Otherwise law-abiding citizens who are undocumented are not subject to local law enforcement. The incoming administration has threatened to take away federal funding for such cities who defy the new immigration enforcement protocols.
Support organizations that advocate for the embattled groups and the environment
I’m sure any of these organization will be happy to receive donations of time and/or money. Again, this is a very incomplete list.
Immigrants’ rights groups, trans advocates, food pantries and homeless shelters, anti-defamation leagues, local LGBTQ organizations, Muslim aid societies, independent press organizations
My Big Gay Personal Challenges:
I am introverted by nature, but I am pushing myself to feed and strengthen my support networks at this time. I will continue to grow my involvement with Brotherhood of the Phoenix, an organization for men who love men (gay, bi, trans, queer). This Brotherhood can be a resource and support for the vulnerable among us.
I have limited financial resources, but I will try to help support organizations doing good work in whatever way possible – publicity, volunteering, etc.
I need to remain strong, physically and mentally. Friends and strangers may need a sympathetic ear. They may also need someone to help protect them from abuse or harassment, which is a far more physically demanding challenge.
I am going to seek out a self-defense class at some point in the near future. I am not a person who has a background in physical confrontation, but I fear there may be a time when such confrontation comes to me. I need to be more prepared than I am today.
One of my gifts is that I love to cook for people. Food is an immediate way to give people a bit of support, and it provides an occasion for gatherings and network building. I need to continue to use that gift.
I will continue to refine this Agenda and to keep myself strong enough that I will not be overwhelmed by the challenges ahead.