Monday, 21 June 2010

VCB 13: I believe in equality. Be the change.

This blog is about The Trevor Project, a charity that aims to prevent suicide and crisis in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and questioning youth community. I'll let Buck explain:

There are a lot of Youtube videos about this at the moment so I urge you to watch some 'Be the change' videos. In fact the whole thing IS actually a video contest... but I guess I like to be different. This is my support for the project and the the LGBTQ community in my way.

I am consider myself to be a very lucky person in that my parents brought my sister and I up to be open-minded, loving, accepting people. We were brought up to have our own opinions and articulate our feelings passionately and articulately-ish. Because I was brought up this way it means I am quite a liberal person. I believe in equality and I believe in human rights without discrimination. This is why I support the LGBTQ community.

As I so often do with my blogs I wish to go back to a bit, but I will come back to LGBTQ so bear with me. I remember the time when I finally understood the world and how I fitted into it, or rather how I wanted to fit into it. It was when I discovered the work of Amnesty International. This is an organisation - as I'm sure you are aware - that campaign "to protect people wherever justice, fairness, freedom and truth are denied."

When I first started reading about their work when I was entering high school (about 11 years old) I couldn't believe some of the things I read about such as: people being put in prison for helping females victims of domestic violence or creating peaceful trade unions; countries where telvision and radio are banned or censored; world banks that are funding cluster bombs or; people being held for years a prison camps without even a charge of any kind.

It made me realise three things:
1. I was a very lucky person to have the life I do.
2. Some people are living without their basic rights to freedom, justice, life etc.
3. I can do something about this.

The thing that most made me change the way I behave and think about the world is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If you are not aware then this is a document drawn up and signed by the General Assembly of the United Nations (of which many countries are a part) in 1948 to say these are the basic rights that all humans should have, irrespective of race, religion, sexuality, class or culture.

If you want to read the whole thing then you can click here to read it. But to give you the jist it says that all humans should have the right to freedom of conscience, have a nationality, fair trials, equal pay for equal work etc, and should be free from slavery, arbitrary detention (i.e. detention without charge), invasion of privacy etc.

When I read this document it was like a switch flicked in my head. Suddenly I realized... everyone should have equal rights. It seems so simple now looking back but there it was. That was the moment when I realised that I wanted to be a person who spoke up when she saw violations of justice or freedom or equality. Of course this 'simplified' way of thinking does come into difficulties. I often encounter people who think that, for example, if I don't agree with the death penalty then I think people should get away with murder when of course this couldn't be further from the truth.

I think where people go wrong when asked to consider the rights of minority groups such as the LGBTQ community: some people think they are being asked to give special treatment. Supporting the LGBTQ community for me isn't about discriminating against straight people - it is about recognising people as individuals. Equality isn't about saying everyone is the same - it should be about saying this person is Punjabi, that person is a lesbian, those people are gypsies, those people are Jewish but for it to not have any effect on your treatment of that person.

As I draw this blog (ramble) to a close I have to refer to Harry Potter... because it is what I do. When Jo Rowling announced Dumbledore was gay I understood why she hadn't said anything. It wasn't because it was a secret, or she was ashamed of her character, or she was scared of the reaction - it was because it hadn't occurred to her before to label each characters sexuality. For her Dumbledore being gay was probably as natural as other characters being straight.

This is my point. People don't need labeling by other people to be who they are: people should have the right to choose for themselves who they are and who they want to be. Someone standing up and saying I am a lesbian should feel no more scary than I would feel standing up and saying I am straight, or where someone who is questioning their sexuality can discuss it with their parents as they would their homework.

I want to live in a world where everyone can be proud of who they are without the fear of persecution, ridicule or shame. We aren't there yet. But we could be. This is why I am an ally of the LGBTQ community.

My answer: Like many Youtube I felt afraid at first of people not understanding my online life; of looking down at me because I am close to people who I make videos for each week than some of the people I went to school with. I have found that some people don't understand. But a lot of people do once I explain a bit more. And isn't that the key to everything, eh? Discussion over censorship.

The Trevor Project (US charity) - The Trevor Project is a non-profit endeavor established to promote acceptance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth and to aid in crisis and suicide prevention among that group.
Lesbian and Gay Foundation (UK charity) -The Lesbian and Gay Foundation is working towards a world where we are free to live our lives without fear,without prejudice and without discrimination.


PinkPixieDF (Heather) said...

To answer your question, yes. I've never had a problem telling people that I am a Christian, but I have sometimes been afraid to tell my Christian friends that I am a scientist. They almost always think that I can't be a Christian and a scientist at the same time. So, sadly, I don't like to talk about science with my Christian friends.

Beth said...

I really appreciate this blog, Helen. There have definitely been things about myself that I've been afraid to admit to people. My internet life, my religious convictions (or when I have doubts concerning them), and most obviously-- my sexuality. I'm not one for lying about who I am, but sometimes it's definitely easier to omit details about yourself. And while I was raised in a loving house, I wasn't raised in a house that was necessarily accepting of people in the LGBTQ community. Things have since changed, but it's been a struggle. I'm rambling in your comments, but yeah. You're awesome. <3

Helen E. Abbott said...

@Heather - That is sad but you can talk science to me :-) And being a Christian. And doing nail art lol.

@Beth - Aw thanks for reading. I wish things weren't such a struggle to get to where you are now. I love you. I wants the bethhugs.

A.J. James said...

Love, this was absolutely well written If it is possible I have fallen even more in love with you.

I don't think I know a single person that hasn't been afraid to voice or admit a part of who they are or who they aim to be.

I think for me as much as I love telling people about the woman I love I tend to avoid telling them how we came to know and eventually fall in love with each other. For some reason I get very uncomfortable when ever I have to explain how we met at a youtube conference, but It has gotten easier each and every time!

Julie H said...

You are such a great writer Helen and you can just tell how passionate you are by what you write.

I think I've always been afraid of admitting that having a career and qualifications doesn't really bother me as what I want most is to be a Mum. But I always think if somebody asked what I wanted to do as a career or the perfect job, they'd think I was strange for saying I just want to be a Mum.

Helen E. Abbott said...

@JooJoo - I love you so much. Meeting on Youtube will soon be what all the cool kids are doing. Our time will come.

@Julie - I totally understand it. My sister justs wants to be a mum and wife. And she will be brilliant. I'm sure you are too.