Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell Is More Than A Military Issue

With everything else going on - natural disasters, economic meltdown, foreign wars, and more - it might seem short-sighted to fixate on whether President Obama will choose to address Don't Ask, Don't Tell (the military policy that effectively prevents LGBT people from serving their country) in his upcoming State of the Union address on Wednesday evening.

[photo credit: ILRI Clippings]

I disagree. The impact of Don't Ask, Don't Tell on the LGBT community extends far beyond the military. The existence of an environment in which LGBT people are unable to tell their own stories underscores just how far we, as a community, still have to go.

At a basic level, it could be argued that our community only exists as a function of our personal, shared stories. LGBT people grow up, often with a vague feeling that we're somehow different, but we're not sure why. We come out, often in turmoil and fear. We live and love, often in the face of real danger and hardship.

It's these shared experiences, and our varied and personal stories about our journeys through them, that form the foundation of our community. We don't share gender or skin color or geography or language. There's nothing visibly apparent that binds us together. It is the telling of our stories - and our ability to find ourselves in each others experiences - that makes us who we are.

When we can neither ask about, nor tell, our stories we are effectively cut off from community. We are robbed of our ability to connect with one another. We are left isolated and vulnerable.

Whether President Obama addresses the military policy or not in his speech, the fact remains that LGBT people must have the right, and the ability, to tell our stories before we can truly make progress.

At Cause+Effect, our mission is to make sure that the stories of our community's shining stars, fearless leaders, and determined entrepreneurs are told. Their stories, their work, and their experiences, strengthen all of us.

No comments: