Tag Archives: black

Born That Way

There is a relatively recent internet site called “Upworthy,” that culls videos from around the web that the site’s managers deem worthy of a wider audience (they’r “UpWorthy”) and promotes them. This morning, I saw one of them–a clip from comedian Wanda Sykes in which she explains why it is more difficult to be gay than to be black (she’s both). After all, she didn’t have to “come out” as black. I encourage you to click through and watch this 2 minute performance; Sykes is a gifted comic, and it is pretty funny.

The bit reminded me of an epiphany of sorts. When I was Director of the Indiana ACLU, I hosted a small fundraising dinner at my home for our Project for Equal Rights. We used that euphemism for Gay Rights, because it was the mid-1990s, and this is Indiana. At any rate, the guest of honor was the then-head of the ACLU’s national gay rights project, Bill Rubenstein. Something he said during that dinner  has remained with me ever since.

Gay kids have no role models.

Virtually every minority group teaches its children how to “be” what they are; Jewish parents model “Jewishness,” Hispanic parents are a bridge to the cultures from which they came, etc. But gay children are born to heterosexual parents–and most often, to parents who have no experience with gays or gay life. Each child who grows to realize that he or she is “different” has to figure out how to understand that difference, and how to live a rewarding and authentic life–without the help of a parental role model, and often despite parental rejection of that difference.

That’s a heavy burden. The least we can do as a society is not add to it.