There are many things I love about #America, but the one that brings me the most hope is being celebrated on this day–July 4th celebrates change; great change.
That is what the United States is truly about: the ability to change; to learn and to grow.
Sometimes, our growth has been bitter with spilled blood as seen during the Civil War and during the 1960s when civil rights for black Americans was hotly contested.Yet, as #MayaAngelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” This has been America’s saving grace; America’s greatest strength—the willingness to do the best we can, and when we know better, we try hard to do better. As an American who is both a woman and a lesbian, this has been the knowledge that has kept my faith in America strong. I believe that women and men, citizens of our great nation, will always strive to grow and to learn; and, ultimately, to do better.
This past year has brought great changes to the LGBTQ community. Unfortunately, it has also brought about terrible backlash. LGBTQ people, especially of the transgender orientation, have faced tremendous violence in every city and state in the nation. In Orlando, Florida the worst attack ever launched against us was when a deranged man with an assault rifle murdered 49 people and injured 53 others in the Pulse nightclub—a place that had been founded to create a safe space for LGBTQ people.
We have people trying to discover ways to circumvent the Supreme Court’s ruling; and we have others discovering new ways to write laws that discriminate against LGBTQ people—laws that allow LGBTQ people to be fired from our jobs, evicted from our homes, refused service in an eating establishment; laws which negatively impact our ability to foster or adopt children and in the long run, may once again impact our right to even maintain custody and/or contact with our own blood children. (Beyond the Silence was written specifically to highlight not only the physical violence suffered by some lesbians, but the emotional violence of having their blood children ripped away because their mother is a lesbian! Though my novel is fiction, it was written with the blood and tears of real people. With North Carolina’s law in effect, such things can once again occur.)
History has demonstrated that change is difficult. People fear anything different. They desperately try to maintain the status quo. But, in the end, America has never backed away from true and lasting change that resulted in guaranteeing freedom to all of her citizens. When we allow laws to be put into place that disregard the freedom of a particular group of people—whether that group is black Americans, LGBTQ people, or Japanese-Americans—we are setting the foundation for everyone’s freedom to be violated.
In the 1960s, it was determined that if you owned a business establishment that was open to the general public then you had to serve black Americans the same as you served white Americans, regardless of your personal beliefs against it—beliefs that told you that black and white Americans should not drink from the same fountain, eat at the same establishment, or attend the same schools. Today that same argument—the argument that says someone’s personal beliefs should allow them to discriminate against a particular segment of the public—has been used by several states against LGBTQ people, most notably in North Carolina.
I believe that the citizens of this nation will not allow such a law to go unchallenged; will not allow such a law to continue to exist. Just like in the 1960s, I believe that the people of the United States will destroy such discriminatory practices, once and for all. I believe that someday, soon I pray, LGBTQ people will celebrate July 4th with the same guaranteed freedoms that their heterosexual counterparts now enjoy.