“O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”
Above is a lyric from the Star Spangled Banner, a song that expresses what our country is made of: freedom, liberty, bravery,and courage. However, I don’t feel that our society practices all of those qualities, freedom in particular. To me freedom means having the right to be who I want to be, do what I want to do, as long as it’s not harmful to others, and not have to worry about persecution or life-threatening retaliation. Instead society ostracizes, shuns, demeans and puts down those who try to exercise their right to freedom. One community in particular is ostracized: the lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, and queer (LBGTQ) community. This topic has been an issue in American society for decades. Due to the fact that Christianity is so ingrained in America, being gay, bisexual, lesbian or transgender has not been accepted, so some people have had to hide their true selves or be “in the closet” because they were afraid of being treated like outsiders or freaks.
In some respects, they aren’t wrong to worry. Some people take their disapproval or hatred of a subject to another level. While researching the topic on the internet I found a website with some heartaching statistics. In the United States in 2013, out of almost 6,000 hate crimes committed, 20 percent (approximately 1,200) were based on the victim’s sexual orientation. For instance on October 2, 2014 a 47-year-old woman name Aniya Parker (a transgender woman) was murdered in Hollywood, Los Angeles. Parker was shot in the head while running from three men who confronted her on the sidewalk. The police were not convinced the incident was a hate crime, but just a “robbery gone bad.” The community was convinced otherwise because Parker’s purse was still at the scene.
Sometimes it’s not the public that turns on LGBTQ people, but their own families. Bri Golec, a 22-year-old woman, was stabbed to death by her own father. Bri used to be called Brian before her transition. Her father, Kevin Golec tried to claim that he and Bri were being attacked by intruders, who were members of a LGBTQ community support group that Bri had just recently stopped attending. After the investigation, it was proven that Golec killed his daughter because he did not approve of her lifestyle.
I spoke to a friend of mine who is a member of the LGBTQ community and I asked him about his experiences and if he had to hide who he really is; this was his response: “I did not have to necessarily ‘hide’ that I was gay but I was told to not do certain things. It was hard because it made me feel like I couldn’t be myself.” I also asked for his opinion on the recent hate crimes going on even after the Supreme Court ruling: “I think it is terrible. The bottom line is respect. You don’t have to like it, it’s not your decision if it doesn’t affect you why are you worried about it. People need to have more self control.” I asked him if he felt comfortable now in society to be who he is, or does he feel as though he has to reserve himself: “I am comfortable with myself, not society. I am aware that not everyone will accept me and I could be subjected to a hate crime. So I do reserve myself because I don’t know what to expect in some situations.”
I find it very heinous and belligerent to mistreat someone because they chose to change their gender or date someone of the same gender. Everyone has the right to be who they want to be and date who they want, even if America is so entrenched with Christianity. After all, the Bible calls having sex before you’re married, cheating, marring or dating relatives, etc … all sins, yet people do it everyday without being berated, killed or taunted. I am a Christian, but I feel that what someone does with their life is their business, not mine. I am not sleeping with another woman or identifying as a man, so why should I care if someone else is? In the U.S. Constitution it says I have the freedom of religion, so what if I don’t have a religion, then I don’t live by the rules of the Bible or believe that being a lesbian, homosexual, transgender or queer is a sin? It doesn’t matter if you don’t agree with what someone else is doing, you still must respect them as a person as they do to you. You don’t need to be anyone’s judge, jury or executioner.