Peace & Possibility Essay Contest Winners Runner Up - Kestin Page
The LGBTQ community is my family. To that effect, I feel it becomes all the more important for us to act as a family and care for each other. Within the LGBTQ community, I as a cisgender white male exist in a high status of privilege, opportunity, and access. Since the end of the fight for marriage equality, there has been a splintering of priorities within the community, and I think far too many gay men of similar backgrounds as myself checked out of the movement because they had achieved a level of homonormative privilege that enabled them to feel a level of relative equality within the broader society. Meanwhile the rights, and indeed very humanity, of transgender and gender nonconforming people have been consistently attacked and infringed, and far too many of us have sat in silent complicity. This isn’t how a family is supposed to be, and is a trend I feel must be resisted at every turn.
One of the greatest strengths of the LGBTQ community has always been our vastdiversity and our open embrace of each feather and each spangle, but the leadership within our community has far too often not reflected the depth of that diversity. I think it becomes an imperative that we make more intentional efforts to foster leadership within individuals who are marginalized across multiple axes of identity. We should be doing all that is in our power to uplift and amplify these voices and consistently showing up in support of each other. With these efforts I think we as a community, especially those of us with greater access and privilege, should be engaged in the perpetual work of examining our own level of privilege and working to break down these harmful systems of power. This is a task that is difficult and is something many of us who have the best intentions often fall short in. I am most certainly guilty of this, and have undoubtedly prioritized my own comfort at the expense of someone from less access or opportunity than myself. Confronting our self-interested complicity with oppression will always be difficult, but because it is difficult it should not deter us from doing what we must.
I worry that moving forward the pressures to assimilate and stop highlighting our identities and experiences could lead to efforts to erase our identities from the public sphere. The increase in the level of attacks on trans folks, in legislatures, on television, social media, and on the streets, shows me how real the threat still is and underscores how important it is that we stand together in solidarity. Our fight for equity must be intersectional and embrace everyone. There are many efforts to divide us and cleave off the most vulnerable and marginalized. This is where I come back to my view of the LGBTQ community as my family; I may not agree or at times even like my family members, but when the chips are down I will always be there for them. Likewise, we must do all that is in our power to challenge forces of oppression and marginalization both in ourselves and in the world. History has shown how strong and persistent methods of division can be and our strongest resource is our mutual care and concern for each other.
It may be a cliché at this point to say that love will win, but I believe this to be true. Love wins every time, and is our greatest weapon. We must remain centered on this love ethic because as Bell Hooks said, “Without love, our efforts to liberate ourselves and our world community from oppression and exploitation are doomed.” Love must inform all our actions,and ground our understanding of our world. Love brings people together and reminds us of the importance of relationships and the value of collective efforts. This ethic of love must be unwavering, unconditional, and must never be abandoned. We should never allow ourselves to be drawn into debates about whether love might be withheld, or withdrawn, from some individuals. The choice is simple, regardless of what the future may hold we will stand united in love; love of self and love for each other.