The Land of the Free: Supporting LGBT rights in America

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LOS ANGELES, February 17, 2014 — America has always called itself “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” That has never been the whole truth. America has always been home to groups of people who have been oppressed by other groups of fearful people. This was true with women, and with every non-white and non-Protestant group of people to find their way, by choice or force, to America.

America is again at a crossroads in its hateful history, this time with regard to the rights of the LGBT community.

Recently, the SEC defensive player of the year and likely NFL draft pick Michael Sam came out as gay. This put the rights of gay people in the face of a notoriously anti-gay segment of our society, organized sports.

It was a huge announcement that took a lot of guts and involved some risk. As big as the announcement was, it will not bring about change on its own. To have change, Michael Sam and the rest of LGBT America needs help.

The civil rights movement did not happen just because African-Americans took a stand, but because white people took a stand with them. Women did not get the right to vote because they took a stand, but because men took a stand with them.

There has never been a rights movement that was successful without help from other people who were not part of that oppressed group.

The same is true today with the gay rights movement. There are many Americans who have no problem with gay people, but they do not make it a priority to tell others about their feelings. Their support is generally silent.

The LGBT rights movement has gone as far as it can go without support from the straight community. Straight people who have no problem with gay people need to step up and fight for gay people to be fully accepted in society. With more straight people voicing their support for gay civil rights, the tide will turn.

Straight America needs to do more to support and applaud gay people who have the courage to come out. It is always a big news story when an athlete, actor, or other famous person comes out as gay, and it will be until there is no longer any reason for them to be in the closet.

Straight America needs to recognize those who have had the courage to do what so many others before them did not have the courage to do.

Minority groups that have been oppressed and continue to be oppressed should not just fight for their own equal rights, but for the equal rights of all oppressed people.

No one can fight and win alone.

There will be a day when someone coming out as gay will no longer be news, but as a society, we are not there yet.

Instead of gay people traveling this lonely road alone, straight Americans need to join them so that the only people traveling a lonely road are the hateful people who hide behind ancient texts to justify their hate.

Kevin J. Wells is the Sports Editor for Communities and also writes about Major League Baseball, punk rock music, and food. Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball

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  • JWPicht

    America has always fallen short of its ideals, but we’re self conscious and bothered by that fact. I’ve lived in other countries on three other continents for over a decade, and that sort of concern with national ideals is vanishingly rare. America may have a history of hate, but it also has a history of trying to change that.

    I’ve been reading a lot about the homophobia of the NFL, but Sam’s teammates took the news with remarkable equanimity, and that’s the generation that’s moving up into the League. Most Americans seem unbothered by same-sex marriage and it’s legal in 17 states – a situation that would have been almost beyond belief just a few years ago. The LGBT community has gone as far as it can without help from the straight community? The votes in states that have legalized SSM says that it’s getting plenty of help from the straight community – not vocal, but very effective.

  • Bill Goode

    I would not support homosexuals in promoting their lifestyle. I don’t consider that I hate homosexuals. I simply will not help them in promoting their issues while they ignore the rights of others.

    The current big issue that the homosexual community has is marriage. They presumably want equal rights to marry. Why does the homosexual community recognize the legitimacy of government regulation over marriage? What business is it of government to decide who may be married and who should not? Until the homosexual community recognizes the rights of others in the issue of marriage, they would not hear support from me.

    It’s time to get government at all levels out of the marriage business. It’s also time for the homosexual community to stop thinking of just themselves and look at the wider issue including everyone who would define their own marriage as having nothing to do with government.

    It’s time for the homosexual community to fight for everyone’s rights and not just their own.

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