My Story

Growing up in conservative West Michigan, I watched lesbian and gay friends and family members struggle to be accepted and be treated equally. There are gains and losses in this fight every day, and it is vital for LGBT individuals and their straight allies to stand up and to pay attention.

03 February 2011

The Why

Before I dive into my chosen subject, I’d like to describe the “why” for this blog.

The what should be obvious; check the banner at the top of the page. Gay rights, or to be more politically correct, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender rights, are quite significant to me. I grew up in a conservative West Michigan town, and watched my sister and others struggle with the lack acceptance LGBT individuals experience there. I made it my mission to make others aware of both the lack of equality and the lack of acceptance in many areas of our society.

I used to write for the Holland Sentinel (http://www.hollandsentinel.com/), and on one occasion I wrote a particularly controversial column about religion, morality, and LGBT individuals in our community. I’ll post it here sometime. I received some letters of praise, some letters telling me where I would end up in the afterlife. But most of all, suddenly our community that likes to ignore this issue was forced to talk about it, using our widely-read local newspaper as a forum, both in the online and print form.

This is not something we can ignore. Lives are literally at stake.

My city’s PFLAG (http://community.pflag.org/Page.aspx?pid=194&srcid=-2) is particularly active and other columnists and community members have written to the newspaper. Local churches are taking action on both sides of the issue, and Hope College faces extreme student dissatisfaction with their handling of issues concerning sexual orientation. There is a Anti-Discrimination Policy being discussed in City Council, which means the dialogue of the community has reached an even more frenzied pitch. There is a new organization, called Holland is Ready, working hard to inspire more action on this issue.

Recently, this has become a contentious issue in my hometown and in similar hometowns across the nation. These are real people we are talking about. LGBT individuals, like my sister, like some friends and acquaintances and neighbors, face discrimination and even violence around the world.

I plan to follow the gains and losses of LGBT issues both in this country and around the world, and the difficult issues surrounding LGBT folks. There is so much that needs to be talked about. The biggest change that I see that needs to happen now, is that we need to learn how to talk about this. Real, tangible change in acceptance and equality can only come about when this happens.

[a photo of me and my sister]

4 comments:

  1. Thanks Jaime Jo! I look forward to reading your future posts! And I am very, very proud of you.

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  2. I've got your blog on my toolbar, and I am your first official "FOLLOWER". Nice work.

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  3. Great first blog, the most important step in fighting for something is to get people to talk about it, keep up the good fight!

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  4. Excellent piece of writing, especially considering how sensitive and controversial LGBT issues and rights have been. Can't wait to read some of the news you feature in future posts.

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