Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Searching for LGBTQ Justice this Christmas 2012

"Magi," J.C. Leyendecker, 1900.

“Magi,” J.C. Leyendecker, 1900.

“We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar.
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

“O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light.”

When the Reverend John Henry Hopkins Jr. wrote the lyrics for the universally loved, “We Three Kings,” in 1857, the term “homosexual” had not yet been coined, and would not be for another twelve years.  We know now that “homosexuality” was a socially created term, invented by European social scientists in the latter 19th century to describe a new species of person.  “Homosexuals” were a problem on the scene of the Industrial Revolution.  Men (especially, at the time) were singled out and scrutinized because they were not procreating, adding children to the labor forces of the era that manned the “dark Satanic mills” of Northern and Western Europe and the United States.  From the invention of homosexuality by the medico-political regimes of the age, gay men and lesbians were problems society had to examine, quarantine, and cure.  So, there never was a time that “homosexuality” as a term was not biased against the humanity and dignity of same-sex loving people.

Christmas 2012 offers us a stunning perspective of change.  In Europe, even as Pope Benedict XVI inveighs against gay relationships, much of the continent has embraced its LGBTQ citizens and secured their rights to live and love as the fully worthy human beings they always have been.  In the United States, major strides have been taken against anti-LGBTQ hate crimes, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has been fully repealed, allowing fully open service in the U.S. military by LGBTQ servicepeople, and this election cycle has brought the election of the first openly lesbian U.S. Senator (Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin), three new states that have made same-sex marriage legal (Maryland, Maine, and Washington), and, for the first time, a state has refused to enact anti-LGBTQ bias into a state constitution by a public referendum (Minnesota).  But, on the other hand, the murder of LGBTQ people has never been higher, tensions across the nation concerning upcoming Supreme Court rulings on Prop 8 and the constitutionality of DOMA are mounting, and there is no comprehensive federal protection for LGBTQ persons in the labor force.  What are we to make of this moment in the struggle for human rights and full equality, then?

President Barack Obama who came out publicly for marriage equality in May 2012 said in an interview with Pink News“One of the things that I’m very proud of during my first four years is I think I’ve helped to solidify this incredibly rapid transformation in people’s attitudes around LGBT issues — how we think about gays and lesbians and transgender persons.” We are engaged in changing the minds of our fellow citizens about who LGBTQ people are, as the President suggests.  Instead of being a suspicious “species,” a variation of some straight ideal for human kind, we are neighbors, friends, relatives, loved ones, co-workers–in other words, everyday people as worthy of respect and acknowledgement as anyone else.  And, as the President says, we are closer to changing the collective American mind in this direction than ever. Speaking of his own daughters, President Obama said, “You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we’re talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”  Looking back across the last four years of his presidency, Mr. Obama observed that the United States is “steadily become a more diverse and tolerant country.
There’s been the occasional backlash, and this is not to argue that somehow racism or sexism or homophobia are going to be eliminated or ever will be eliminated,” he went on to say. “It is to argue that our norms have changed in a way that prizes inclusion more than exclusion.”  

Magi, and activists, and clergy, and just plain people of good conscience still seek the Light of justice for LGBTQ people in this country and around the world. As we lean forward toward Bethlehem this Christmas season, may the searchers find courage in each other, and in the power of an idea whose time has come.

Merry Christmas to the Friends and Fans of Unfinished Lives!

December 22, 2012 - Posted by | Christmas, DOMA, Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), Employment discrimination, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Marriage Equality, Pope Benedict XVI, President Barack Obama, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, U.S. Supreme Court, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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