Customs and Border Protection stepped it up a notch today by recognizing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trangender Pride month. A quote from their press release:
CBP is hosting an event at La Posada’s Zaragoza Room to commemorate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. This year’s theme is “We are ALL American.” The event will feature a keynote speech delivered by Gabriel S. Sanchez, President, Gay Straight Alliance, Texas A&M International University and an educational awareness presentation.
Good for the agency(ies?)! Its work culture does not openly embrace those of differing orientations but at least its public relations people do – maybe its a good step. But I will refrain from talking more about my opinion of the culture and tell you a little personal story:
Long ago and far away, I was studying people and their emotions. My internship was at a community college and because it was so small, I was asked to take on the LGBT awareness month so I planned some pretty superficial displays of posters, books, etc. It really was nothing profound where people truly got to understand others different than them, just an awareness of who had been great talents in our history who were gay, lesbian or other orientation. I didn’t think much of it but apparently, two of my office mates did. Without asking, without discussing, without any warning, they avoided me like the plague. These ladies were employees of the school and had worked with all kinds of students but because I posted up posters that forced them to think beyond heterosexuality, it put me on the out. My internship supervisor reminded me that it was also a learning experience for them so I let it go.
I had also been given the task of starting and sponsoring the college’s Latino club – piece of cake, until… the June LGBT display. These were students I saw frequently since the October before and we would talk about all kinds of things. So the president asks a little timidly “so… uhm… you put up the displays at school? Are you like … a lesbian?” I asked “What would it change if I were?” He said “Nothing, but if you are not, then why did you do it?”
Ok, so… ready? This was almost picture perfect so I wrote it up for my supervisor in my Masters program. A lesson I had been taught long ago and was about to teach someone else: “Because if we don’t help stand up for the oppressed, we are helping support the oppression.” Ok, not so picture perfect – ha. But at the time, it was a Hallmark moment with me and the Latino students in a little college in corn country. Because I am heterosexual does not mean I should not support those who are not.
I’ll stop being preachy – just congratulating CBP and a hope for moving beyond tolerance to respect of differences (unless you are in politics, then you are free game! Alright – I will resist).