A few days ago, I was talking with someone about a negative experience she had. I won’t go into detail, but she had gone to see a mental health practitioner for an evaluation. She showed me the report he had written, because she was upset that he hadn’t taken her concerns seriously. I noticed that too, that he had apparently dismissed her without really trying. But that’s not what jumped out at me and made me want to go down there and give him a piece of my mind.
It looked to me, from what he had written, that he had been biased because she’s a lesbian.
Anyone who has faced discrimination of some sort will be able to relate. It’s subtle, most people wouldn’t have noticed. In fact, people who have never been in such a situation would probably wave it away, saying it didn’t really happen.
But it did.
The place she went has a written non-discrimination policy. I’m glad they do, but there’s one problem. The burden of proof is always on the one who believes she was wronged. No big deal, if the discrimination is overt. If he had called her a name, or said he wouldn’t evaluate or treat her because of her sexuality, that would have been a no-brainer. But prejudice is often more subtle.
We think of the caricature of the fire-and-brimstone preacher telling his congregants about the unfortunate fate of those ho-mo-SECK-suals (I know you are imagining the prissy way they say it). We see the bigots of Westboro Baptist with their picket signs. We hear about the pastor’s son who was assaulted on church property. And then we think, “But I’m not like that. We’re not all like that.”
Except we are.
That subtle prejudice is evident whenever we claim we can pinpoint the “cause” of being gay. It’s evident when we needle men for failing to be “masculine” enough. It’s there when we bar even a celibate gay person from church leadership. And it’s there when we don’t stand up to bullies like the perpetrators of the above overt homophobia.
I saw this video in my Twitter feed this morning, and I have to admit, it got to me. I’m not a huge fan of Dan Savage, but I think he got this one right. (Be forewarned, there is swearing in this video.)
Come on, Church. Be the church. Stand up for people. Why is it that we’re all for war if it’s against someone we think we don’t like? If we can go into battle for the not-yet-born, then surely we can do it for those who already walk this Earth. It’s time to stop letting the bullies get away with this, both overt and covert. I’m in; who’s with me?