I’ve been watching and reading about the battles the GLBT (however you want to arrange the letters) community, which I identify with on a number of levels, about how the battle has been going on for some time to be treated like every other person who walks this earth.
This is not a new battle. The battle was fought by women, my minorities – just about any group or subset of humanity that you can think of. What makes THIS battle even harder, however, is the fact that this is a group that does not have any physically genetic identifying traits, like color of skin or the body parts they were born with.
People have been fighting so hard against giving this group of people equal status that it occupies their every waking moment. They are so bound and determined to quash these people under their iron heel that they think of little else. One has to wonder WHY this happens though. I know my friends and I have engaged in many debates over this issue, and there seems to be no clear right answer. The other part of this equation is that people IN the community are working so hard to bring this issue to light that it in some cases looks like the topic is being shoveled down people’s throats to the point where public businesses are being sued who do not wish to provide services to the community.
There is a very fine line that should be walked with regard to the fight for equal status, and it seems neither side is going about this with any form of subtlety. It’s not about giving a section of people SPECIAL rights – it’s about giving them EQUAL rights. I have seen the ugly side of humanity in this battle first-hand, actually.
There was a time I was with a group of friends who wanted to go out for coffee, so we chose to go to the Perkin’s restaurant on the west side of Billings. We were walking towards the door when we were confronted by management at the door and being told to go away because “We don’t serve your kind here”, and wouldn’t let us in.
That statement has a very dismissive, hurtful overtone to it. Just because someone is different, they should be just not allowed to go into places? Yes, you can say they have a right to refuse service to anyone, but how would you feel in that place at that moment? Angry? Sad? Resentful? I felt all of those feelings at that moment. Granted, years later, I have realized that any business does have the right to refuse service to anyone, but it didn’t make it suck any less. Funny thing is…..less than a year later, a group of us went to the downtown Perkin’s and were treated VERY differently! They fell over each other waiting on us, made sure we were well taken care of, but the funniest thing was, when we went outside, there was a crowd around asking us who we were, what band we were with, and when our next album was coming out! Yes….we looked VERY punkish, so that may have had something to do with it. Still, it was quite an interesting contrast to how we were treated at the other location.
In recent years, more people and businesses have become more tolerant and accepting – after all…a sale is a sale, but there are still many places where the battle is being fought, and it may be some time before all is said and done. A bit of common sense will still be needed by both sides, but I have hopes that eventually this will be an issue left behind us as we continue to grow as the human race. In the meantime, I plan on doing my level best to just being myself and seeing where the road takes me – one step at a time.