Everyone has something they’d be willing to die for that is what they live for, whether it’s a relative, a partner, or a cause. I have several — my loved ones of course, and, now seemingly more relevant than ever, the LGBTAQ+ community.
The struggle this community faces with the Church and for equality is something I plan to spend my entire life trying to improve, even if I make zero progress. It’s something that I believe in so deeply that I would die for it. If I thought such a sacrifice could bring a peaceful resolution, I’d be gone tomorrow. That’s the level of commitment I’m talking about here.
You’re thinking great, you’re a little too enthusiastic there. That’s not my point. This is something I’m passionate about, something I care about deeply, so it’s not that weird when I say that I will gladly devote my life to it because living for something is sometimes much harder than dying for something.
It would be weird if I expressed the same feelings about some part of my identity, instead of something that I believe to be a calling. Like, if I said I’m part Swiss, and I’d be willing to die for that. If I said I’m a sister, and I’d gladly give up my life for that. I appreciate my heritage, and I do love each of my siblings more than anything, but it’s not exactly a calling.
It’s not the same as saying that I’m devoting my life to something that makes the world a better place. It’s saying that I’m devoted to the people closest to me, so much so that I’d rather die than have anything bad happen to them. Again, this is not an unusual feeling.
Nobody asks that of me. In all likelihood, nobody is going to target me because of my status as a sister. Nobody is going to target me because I’m a daughter. Nobody is going to target me if I've got a boyfriend.
If, by some crazy chance, somebody found out that I am one of those things, and came to me for that reason, there would be no doubt in anyone’s mind that my attacker was definitively in the wrong. Nobody would say that I deserved it because I happened to have siblings or aunts, or that the world was better off without me.
It wouldn’t happen. If it did, anyone who said those things would be dismissed as an awful human being (and rightly so). Because that’s madness. Nobody should be attacked over something they cannot control.
Who you love is something you cannot control. Your family. Your friends. Your partner. Love is love, and love is not a crime. It is not something hateful. It is beautiful and valuable and pure.
Nobody is asking me to defend my love with my life. Nobody is asking me to put myself at risk every time I go out in public simply because of my identity. And if nobody is asking it of me, or of you, or of anyone else, then nobody should ask or expect it of anyone in the LGBTAQ+ community either.
If I get to choose what and when I am willing to sacrifice my life for, then so does everyone else.
If I don’t have to worry about being attacked for being myself, then no one else should have to either.
I don’t care what you believe about the Bible or Quran or any other religious text. I don’t care what you think about gay people or Muslims or people who enjoy "Harry Potter." I don’t care if you support Hilary, Trump, or Elvis Presley. None of that matters.
People deserve to be safe, to feel safe in their identity. They should not have to worry about being gunned down for displaying affection or assaulted because they held someone’s hand. They shouldn’t have to worry about judgement and harassment and violence. But they do.
The LGBTAQ+ community deals with these fears every day, every moment of their lives. It might be on the back burner at times, but it’s still a very real possibility in this society. That’s ridiculous.
I can proclaim my activism and passion for working with the LGBTAQ+ community. I can say that I’d die for them and that I’m planning to live my life with the same purpose. The reality is that they’re making that same choice every single day, simply by being who they are.
By having the courage to go to a gay bar, to come out to a friend, to hold their partner’s hand as they walk down the street, they’re demonstrating courage a lot of people never need to have.
Nobody is asking them to put themselves on the line for who they love, but they do it anyway, all the time. It’s time we stop just expecting them to do it, or worse, getting annoyed with them for doing it.
So please, take a moment of silence. Take a break from the gun control and immigration debates and just think, pray, reflect. Just appreciate the bravery it takes for the LGBTAQ+ community to be themselves in the world we’ve created. And then say another prayer, because in Orlando last week, a safe space was violated, which means that it just got even more difficult to take that step of courage.