Written by Kathleen Archambeau
Monoculture is like monosyllable – okay on occasion, but woefully inadequate in most situations. It is well known that diversity leads to better stock performance by more than 30% and that diverse government agencies serve the public better. By 2050, 54% of the US population will be “minority” and more than 30% Hispanic (Office of Personnel Management, 2017). In an era of rampant nationalism, protectionism, racism, sexism and homophobia, diversity in a country founded on its principle has never been more vital to the very survival of democracy. In just a little over 100 days, Trump has dismantled protections for LGBTQ citizens. The Justice and Education Departments have quit protecting transgender kids in public school. North Carolina has been allowed to enact a bill that discriminates against its transgender citizens. This administration made Mike Pence, a signer of a bill allowing discrimination against LGBTQ citizens of Indiana, its vice president. The message is clear: “It’s okay to discriminate against queers.”
The next time you’re inclined to stereotype, stop, take a breath and use your rational mind to properly assess the person before you. Or, as the nuns used to say, “Put on your thinking caps.”
Rather than lump us all in the same bucket – buzzed-out, black leather, makeup-less lesbians — educate yourself as to the rainbow of people that make up the queer community. The rainbow is a fitting symbol as queer folks are all ages, all genders, all sexual orientations, all races, all roles, all nationalities, all religions and all abilities – all in. Never before have the stakes been so high. Deny diverse opinions at democracy’s peril. Deny the panoply of talents at your own business risk.
If you’re straight and seeking to understand, or you’re queer and wishing to broaden your vision, 30 LGBTQ luminaries find a central place in my book Pride and Joy: LGBTQ Artists, Icons and Everyday Heroes, including the African-American California Obama political director; the Mexican-American founder of The Last Drag, a smoking cessation program; the first openly lesbian United Methodist Church bishop, an Argentinian baker, the founder of Ballroom Basix in Harlem’s public schools, the Hungarian activist on a neo-Nazi hit list, the New Zealand Maori Member of Parliament, an Uruguayan award-winning author, the Cuban inaugural poet, a blind mezzo soprano.
Other books to enrich your reading list are:
Queer America: A People’s GLBT History of the United States by Vicki L. Eaklor
The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle by Lillian Faderman
When We Rise: My Life in the Movement by Cleve Jones
It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller
WNBA-SF member Kathleen Archambeau is an award-winning nonfiction writer and journalist, She wrote a regular column profiling icons for one of the oldest queer newspapers in the country. Her first book,Climbing the Corporate Ladder in High Heels, was endorsed by Nancy Pelosi and Leslie Blodgett and featured twice in Forbes. A founding supporter of the LGBT wing of the SF Public Library and the Dance of America Foundation Board, VP and Co-Chair of Fundraising for one of the first mental health agencies dedicated to services for the LGBT community, Archambeau has worked tirelessly to extend equal access to all LGBTQ persons. See her website for additional information.