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Did You Know?

Harvey Milk (1930-1978) - Giving Hope

People told him no openly gay man could win political office. Fortunately, he ignored them.  His life now a feature film, Milk was the first openly gay man elected to any substantial political office.

There was a time when it was impossible for people — straight or gay — even to imagine a Harvey Milk.  The funny thing about Milk is that he didn't seem to care that he lived in such a time. After he defied the governing class of San Francisco to become a member of its board of supervisors, many people had to adjust to a new reality he embodied: that a gay person could live an honest life and succeed.

Milk knew that the root cause of the gay predicament was invisibility. Milk suspected emotional trauma was gays' worst foe — particularly for those in the closet…That made the election of an openly gay person, not a straight ally, symbolically crucial.

"You gotta give them hope," Milk always said.

How Homophobia hurts us all

(Adapted from the Centre for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Life, Duke University)

You do not have to be LGBT, or know someone who is, to be negatively affected by homophobia.  Though homophobia actively oppresses LGBT people, it also hurts heterosexuals.

Homophobia:

  • Inhibits the ability of heterosexuals to form close, intimate relationships with members of their own sex, for fear of being perceived as LGBT.
  • Perpetuates negative stereotypes and myths by reinforcing a silence, erasure and a lack of accurate, reliable information about LGBT persons and issues.
  • Locks people into rigid gender-based roles and stereotypes that inhibit appearance, behaviour, creativity and self-expression.
  • Is often used to stigmatize heterosexuals, those perceived or labeled by others to be LGBT, children of LGBT parents, parents of LGBT children and the friends of LGBTs.
  • Compromises human integrity by pressuring people to treat others badly, actions that are contrary to their basic humanity.
  • Results in the invisibility or erasure of LGBT lives and sexuality in school-based sex education discussions, keeping vital information from students.  Such erasures can kill people in the age of AIDS.
  • Is one cause of premature heterosexual involvement, which increases the chances of teen pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.  Young people, of all sexual identities, are often pressured to become heterosexually active to prove to others that they are “normal”.
  • Discourages all people from developing an authentic self-identity and expressing their own uniqueness.
  • Inhibits appreciation of other types of diversity, making it unsafe for everyone because each person has unique traits that are not considered mainstream or dominant.  We are all diminished when any one of us is demeaned.  By challenging homophobia and heterosexism, people are not only fighting oppression for specific groups of people but are striving for a society that accepts and celebrates the differences in all of us.