Our planet has a dark history of discriminating against minorities. Our ancestors did it, we continue to do so today and, sadly, it is very possible that the coming generations will find a new minority to continue this trend with. The tragedy is that discrimination is most definitely ingrained in our society. As children, discriminatory behaviors reach us in one form or another, be it through our parents, the schools we attend or the media we interact with, and we adopt it as a part of our behavior. It then becomes a hugely challenging task to learn how to unlearn this discrimination.
One such minority that has been struggling since ancient civilization to let itself be known, and has more recently been daring to attain equality in this flawed society, is the LGBT community. People from all around the world united with them and helped push back against injustice, allowing us the privilege of witnessing some remarkable changes in the way our legal systems function today. Ireland, for one, recently legalized gay marriage as a result of popular vote and was closely followed by the United States Supreme Court ruling. These stories are powerful and when we think of minorities we tend to gravitate toward emphasizing their struggles and capturing their tragic stories. While this is crucial information that everyone should be aware of because it spreads awareness and inspires empathy, there is another way of shedding light on the need for marriage equality. Jenni Chang and Lisa Dazlos tell us how.
Chang and Dazlos are a gay couple from San Francisco who wanted to learn about the LGBT communities in countries that are particularly conservative and have obviously different perspectives on this issue. They shortlisted 15 countries and set out to find 15 “supergays” — a term they coined for people who are role models and advocates for change and who have succeeded in achieving it. What they found was remarkable. We’d expect the situation to be much worse for gay individuals in countries like India and Kenya, and in some ways it is. However, India happens to have the first openly gay prince and Kenya has its first gay political candidate running for senate. Furthermore, Argentina, a largely Catholic country, was the first in South America and the tenth country in the world to legalize gay marriage.
What is tragic about these stories is the lack of knowledge and the lack or acknowledgement of this issue. India’s prince has been disowned by his parents and the country’s citizens have close to zero knowledge about this and other gay, lesbian and transgender communities around them. Meanwhile, David Kuria, Africa’s gay political candidate continues to receive death threats because of his sexual orientation. People give them a blind eye and pretend like they don’t exist, or they simply refuse to accept them as a part of the community making it much harder to do anything. Looking at this issue from this perspective induces a feeling of helplessness.
Chang and Dazlos look at it through a different perspective, showing us the silver lining. The “supergays” are “supergays” because none of them deterred from their goal to raise awareness and break the stigma surrounding sexual orientation. And what Chang and Dazlos are doing is enlightening citizens about the people making changes in their very own countries. In fact, they’re going a step further by inspiring the idea of possibilities for the entire world by focusing on the fact that equality is a possible and a tangible goal. Their optimism is contagious and encourages us to take initiative.