Janelle Sorenson: I have been thinking about this a lot lately as my fiancée and I have been planning our wedding. A decent majority of my extended family fall on the side of the Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney fan club, as I found out during the last election and it was emotionally very hard for me to deal with.
Knowing that I am with the love of my life and the happiest I have ever been, and having an event that is the momentous kick off to our lives as a married couple, it is hard and frustrating to think “is so and so going to be supportive and loving and happy to be there?” every time I add a name to the guest list.
Though my mother would argue that the “loving, open, show them you’re just like them” route is the way to go, I struggle because I feel like (caution: bridezilla moment) it’s our big day and the only people I want there are people who support us, believe in our equal rights and will wave the proverbial pride flag right there with us.
Short answer: I’m still trying to figure it all out. Though my rational mind knows love and education is the answer, my emotional mind isn’t sure I’m there yet.
Kim Hoffmann: I can’t even process the time and space of this, or what I might give on any tangible level. I would rather not even give any thoughts or energy to someone who is afraid. Fear is the basis of so many aspects of our live as is, and things often begin and end in chaos. I guess maybe I would just give them the gift of media. Read it and weep, see this commercial, watch this character, listen to this newscaster, hear this president.
Karman Kregloe: I’d give a homophobe the gift of discovering that someone they love is gay. It’s a win-win, really. Then the homophobic person gets to figure out why they’re holding on to such strange and dated ideas and discover the depth of their love for the gay person in question. Plus, we could always stand to increase our ranks!
Eboni Rafus: Because I grew up as a preacher’s kid, most of the people I know who object to homosexuality do so on religious grounds. Though most are gracious enough to agree to “hate the sin and not the sinner,” I am not content to have my “lifestyle” merely tolerated. Of course, I’d rather my spiritual family and friends decide to let God be the judge and love me despite “falling short of his glory”or living a life “outside his will,” than to be hateful towards me. Yet, it is not enough. It is important for me to show the christians in my life, that I am not a wayward soul.
To this end, I would gift any homophobe who attempts to use scripture as an excuse to discriminate against LGBTQ people a DVD copy of the documentary film, Fish Out of Water, by Ky Dickens. Through interviews with theologians and humorous animation, the film deconstructs the bible passages that are often misinterpreted and erroneously used to support homophobia and heterosexism.
I’ve shown this film to people I love, people I was desperate to accept me for who I am and not despite whom I love…and they did. It worked. It didn’t happen over night, but in time, they learned that being a person of faith and being an active ally are not mutually exclusive. People are afraid of what they don’t know or understand, but once they are educated they can replace that fear with love.
Bridget McManus: You can’t force anyone to change their minds, they have to grow and do that for themselves. But when they are ready I would give them a copy of Brokeback Mountain. That film is a triumph on so many levels and reiterates that you can’t help who you fall in love with.
Dara Nai: Why would I give homophobes anything? If I had the magical power to give a group of people one life-changing gift, I’m sure not going to waste it on small-minded morons whose sanctimonious views mean absolutely nothing to me.
I’m incredibly lucky because I’ve never encountered real homophobia from my family, childhood or job. In some instances, being gay has actually helped me. But there’s a vast group of lesbians who are having a much harder time, and so, I would give them three things:
1. Inner-strength. Respect is not a god-given right: It has to be earned. And I don’t mean someone else’s respect for you. I mean your respect for them. Maybe you’ve known your best straight friend since kindergarten. Maybe your grandmother knit you a sweater when you were 12. Who cares? If they don’t accept you now, ya gotta have the strength to cut them loose. You can still love them, but sometimes it’s best to do it from afar.
2. More happiness. Why so serious? We only have so much time here on planet Earth. Don’t waste your life being sad, angry or disappointed, especially over what others think or do. It’s bad for your skin, shortens your life, and makes your Facebook posts really depressing. Stop it.
3. A raise. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a lesbian say they were broke… Sometimes it’s said with a weird pride that I’ve never understood. This just in: There is nothing noble about being poor. Whatever you do for a living, you’re probably pretty good at it because lesbians work hard and don’t care about offending delicate male egos in the workplace. You deserve a raise. A big one.
Grace Chu: While I would love to be patient and kind and have the will and stamina to change hearts and minds through educating others in a measured and non-confrontational way, that’s just not my personality. I simply don’t have it in me. I am a hothead and can be quite mouthy, and going on expletive filled rants will just alienate those who can be shown the light, so for the sake of the movement, I will just have to stand down and hope the homophobes eventually come around. So until then, I will be giving homophobes Facebook blocks.
Trish Bendix: One of the main reasons people are homophobic is that they are taught that it’s OK to be. If I could offer one thing to a homophobe, it would be the opportunity to ask questions. I’d offer up myself or any other willing LGBTQ-identifying person would be open to answering anything that someone who doesn’t understand us wants to know, something that’s instilling fear of the unknown. Through these kinds of honest conversations, it’s my hope that we could figure out one another better. Of course this means both sides have to come with the willingness to hear what the other is saying, and that’s not always so easy, but I’m an optimist. I am also that lesbian that interrupts dudes at bars when they are asking their friends why lesbians use strap-ons if they hate penises. (True story.)
Lastly, LGBTQ history included in our schools. I’m talking Harvey Milk, Matthew Shepherd, Sally Ride. Also inclusion in sex ed.
What would you offer to a homophobe in hopes they would give up the fear and hatred of queer people?