Oscar Wilde, writer, wit, gay icon.
If I had to pick a man to praise as an LGBT Hero, the only conceivable choice for me is the deliciously witty Oscar Wilde. Though he came and went before the rights of gay people became a coffee table agenda, he managed to stand up for his rights as an individual against an austere and puritan culture. Maybe this is the writer in me, but he becomes a double threat by being my literary hero as well as my cultural idol.
While thinking about my hero, it occurred to me that there are a great many modern examples of heroes in the world today. All of them stand their ground and in their own ways fight to give LGBT a voice in an age where everyone is having to shout to make themselves heard amid the din of differing opinions, views and personal agendas.
I ask myself the question, what is it that makes a person become a hero? In the old stories it was about dashing knights who battled devilish dragons to save the damsels in distress from danger, doom or death.
Saint George and the Dragon, by Paolo Uccello c.1470, a classic image of a damsel in distress.
Now, all the dragons have changed to world leaders with right wing ideas, or traditionalists with a dim view of changing times, or changing opinions. The damsels in distress became the youth of the LGBT community, afraid to be themselves for fear of being rejected, or subjugated by those opinions that they are some how not ‘right’ and are forced to be marginalized or bullied into silence. So what of the Knight? Who is the savior in our time of need?
Ben Cohen. Gareth Thomas. Sporting heroes, hugely supportive of the fight aginst prejudice.
Though we are thankful for the politicians, the sympathisers, and the occasional pop icons who throw us their support and their praise, we need to learn that, rather than wait for the heroes to come to us, we have to become the heroes that we desperately need. I don’t mean to say that we need to go out and riot in the streets, or join protests or fight against the establishment. The simple truth is that in many ways, we are already each of us heroes in our own ways.
Michigan teenager Graeme Taylor, 14 jumped to the defense of his teacher who was suspended from his job after disciplining an anti-gay student in class.
If we walk the streets and ignore the slurs and hatred pitted against us, then we show them the pride that we feel. When we challenge unjust laws and fight against the inequality in the establishment, we show them that we care about our government and the laws by which we wish to live. When we stand up for the ones who cannot or will not stand up for themselves, we show the world the ferocity of our brotherhood and sisterhood with one another. We show them that we deserve to be here, and if they seek to move against us in hatred, then we shall match them, measure for measure, and we shall not falter.
Thousands of heroes at Fair Day, 2011, Sydney.
It sounds like a lot to take in I know. After all, when we look at the best examples of heroism in modern times I know I always wonder if I am up to the challenge to be as strong in the face of adversity as they are. I would also never consider myself the typical style for what we think of as a hero. However, as I write these words, it occurs to me that, in the face of tough criticism of the community, we do more by simply living our lives each and every day, and in some ways that’s the thing that the detractors and critics in this new world fear the most.
Ezra Miller, actor and hearthrob, came out in 2012.
The truth is that in recent decades the community has proved that it is here to stay, but there are still more battles to be fought, and more journeys to make before this war of opinions has reached its conclusion. So in the course of my usual rant I find myself with a message to give to our straight cousins who I must admit I do not always think to write to, and the message is that we are not at all so different from you. We are all the same colours and the same creeds. We are all the same mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers. We are all the same nations, the same communities, the same neighborhoods. We are the same people! So when you see homophobia, even in the smallest conversations or in the broadest statements, remember that you have it in you to be a hero for our community as well by showing that prejudice has no place in this word regardless of sexual orientation.
So I finish with a few final words. There will always be some people out there who think we are somehow inherently wrong, against religion or against nature in some way. So I say we show them the truth of their own ignorance, by proving them wrong each and every single day and show that whom we love and who we want to be in no way defines our destiny. This is Jason, trying in his own way to fight the dragon, signing off.
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