Why civil rights matter…

I just finished telling a national organization that I think they should pursue GBLT rights as a major goal this year. Given that my candidate chose a notoriously anti-gay preacher to give the invocation at the inauguration… well, that makes me unhappy. Anyway, they asked for a “story” explaining why that goal was important to me. Here’s mine:

As a white, straight, Christian male, I have only experienced exclusion and discrimination a few times in my life. As a servicemember in Korea, I was denied entrance to a club and cabs passed me by simply because of the color of my skin. At some of my duty stations, because my denomination of Christianity was not well represented, I was excluded both maliciously and simply by being forgotten and overlooked.

Those times hurt. More than I would have suspected before they happened to me.

I cannot imagine the horror of having that kind of exclusion and discrimination happen every day.

It simply must end.

I think that’s important to remember. Both that my examples of experiencing discrimination are nothing compared to the everyday discrimination that others face – but that they do give me some clue to what it must be like. If it hurt that bad for me, then how much worse it be for others who don’t have the same advantages that I have?

I use that paradigm a lot when talking about white privilege. If it’s hard for you, then imagine how much harder it is for someone who looks different, sounds different, or acts just differently enough. I don’t think that civil rights legislation will fix that kind of prejudice, but it will force us to interact with other people who are different than ourselves.

And that will change things.

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