Michael Hamar

The Importance of Straight Allies Speaking Out

Filed By Michael Hamar | February 19, 2011 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Equality Virginia, Hampton Roads Pride, HR Pride, HRBOR, living out and proud, Out in the Park, straight allies

The 2011 "Out in the Park" pride celebration in Hampton Roads is finally moving to a premier venue - Norfolk's Town Point Park on the downtown Norfolk waterfront - after years of being relegated to the off the beaten path hinterland in Chesapeake. The new venue is vastly increasing the costs of the event and the pressure to put on a truly first class event given the high visibility of the event.

In order to insure a great event, rather than being sponsored solely by Hampton Roads Pride, this years event will also be sponsored by Hampton Roads Business OutReach ("HRBOR"), Equality Virginia, and AltDaily, an alternative online news and opinion publication. In response to questions as to why AltDaily became involved, Jesse Scaccia (pictured above), the publisher and editor-in-chief, wrote an amazing op-ed piece that explains why he as a straight man has decided to become involved and join the push for LGBT equality.

The piece is entitled "Why I Care About GLBT Rights" and I hope Jesse's call will lead others to realize that when we fail to oppose the message of the Christian Right and other merchants of hate and division, we all lose out. Here are some column highlights (I recommend a read of the full well written and moving column):

I've been part of the team that championed for this year's Out in the Park to be moved from Chesapeake to the more prominent Town Point Park. I will be a part of the fundraising and organization leading up to the event right up until when the night of June 5th is over.

I've been asked--and it's impossible for me to not ask myself--why I care so much about this cause that doesn't necessarily directly affect me. I'm not gay, nor am I bisexual. The simple answer would be to quote Martin Luther King Jr. and say that "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." While I do believe that, my answer is deeper, and steeped in more personal history, than that.

As a Jew, it is impossible for me not to have sympathy for another group oppressed for nothing more than the way they were born. Sympathy is nothing without action. That is one reason I'm a part of Out in the Park.

So I know something about what it's like to be discriminated because of my sexuality, even if the 'accusations' were false. I know how impotent this kind of discrimination can make a person feel. How wronged. I get how confusing it can be, to know you're a good person with a lot to give and a lot to add, but to be turned away because you didn't fit the part they want you to play.

I want to live in a society where it literally does not matter what choices a person makes when it comes to who they love. For that kind of society to be actualized, people like me need to come out and say that physical contact with someone of your own sex is not implicitly gross. It is not wrong. It is not immoral. It's okay, really. To some people--people I love dearly--it is how God intended them to live. That, to me, is an immutable fact.

I'm part of Out in the Park because the GLBT community needs straight allies, and I want them to know they can count on me. See, the destiny of Right is not manifest. Right must be fought for. It dies--it shrivels like a heart cut off from blood--in the absence of the fight.

For to live, one's soul must be without fear. And oh, dear lord knows, there are far too many of our brothers and sisters who are so afraid. Our brothers and sisters in the closet live in fear, but also their oppressors, whose hatred is based on ignorance and fear of a world where their version of Manhood does not automatically plop them to the top of the social schemata.

I know that I am making my path harder in this Southern military town full of Pat Robertson and his followers. I welcome that harder path. Because hard is good. The fight is what sets us free.

(Crossposted at Michael-in-Norfolk)

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We ALL lose when any group is denied their rights. Thank you for posting this.

Why do straight people always seem to listen better when another straight person tells them that discrimination is wrong? It just seems counter intuitive to actually listening to the group being discriminated against.

Regan DuCasse | February 20, 2011 12:36 PM

Bil, that is the 100 million dollar question. I don't get that either. If a crime is committed, or some other injustice, it's the VICTIM and EYEWITNESSES who are listened to.
Not the perpetrator, and not someone who wasn't around or heard anything or saw anything.

Law enforcers, courts and juries consider the victims and the eyewitnesses as credible, not those engaged in HEARSAY.
This should also be true of the court of public opinion.

More straight people, along with LGBT, need to speak out. We know that majority of all people favor equality and non-discrimination. Speak up, please!