There is no doubt about it: the vast majority of LGBT people come to terms with their sexual orientation and/or gender identity issues, come out to the world, and move on with their lives.
During the self-discovery process, they might get involved with advocacy by joining various LGBT groups, but it is only temporary. Advocacy is not a mission for the majority of LGBT people beyond, perhaps, attending a Pride parade and waving a rainbow flag.
But some of us feel compelled to advocate for LGBT equality in our own home towns, and around the world. Personally speaking, I’m not sure exactly why I do it — and I don’t want this post to be about me. Suffice to say, it is not about money, because I never made any money with my long-running newspaper blog, nor am I making any money with this one. It has always been a labour of love.
There’s no doubt, though, that money is part of the motivation for some people who advocate for LGBT civil rights — both as jobs within LGBT organizations and as individuals who write books and speak publicly for a fee . They make a living doing it. It doesn’t make their contribution any less valuable, just as a nurse in a hospital is as selfless as a volunteer in the same institution.
But there are far more people advocating free of charge, in blogs, in online groups and in social media settings, etc. Advocacy comes in many forms. Indeed, it was a support group on a very unlikely site that helped me come out, and inspired me to advocate.
These days, advocacy is as simple as sharing a post on Facebook. I learned a valuable lesson this spring with my Gazette blog when I did a post on the #wejustneedtopee movement. The post received some 70,000 views over three days. It was the most-read item in the whole Postmedia chain. We use a service that shows us where hits are coming from. In this case: the vast majority of people were clicking in from Facebook, because the post was being shared and shared and shared.
So, being an advocate these days is as easy as sharing a post or a news article.
The question of who is qualified to be an advocate and who isn’t has come up recently as people like Caitlyn Jenner and Zoey Tur get media attention. Are they hurting the cause or helping it?
I can’t answer those questions, except to say that every little bit helps. There’s no doubt they want to help LGBT people win equal civil rights and respect. Whether we agree with everything they say or not, we should be grateful that they choose to stick around and try to advance the cause– and inspire discussion within the LGBT community.
But nobody is bigger than the cause, and I doubt that a gaffe by any one individual would set us back much. The movement for LGBT equality is too big for that — even if many of our LGBT sisters and brothers have moved on and put advocacy behind them.
There are still a lot of people who care enough to speak out, whether it be by sharing a post on Facebook or speaking to an audience in an auditorium — or in myriad ways in-between.
Bravo to all of you. One day, we won’t have to shine a spotlight on LGBT people because everyone will have equal rights . . . and then we can all ride off into the proverbial sunset.
— Jillian Page, LGBT Perspectives editor
“Let harmlessness be the keynote of your life.” — Alice Bailey