D is for a lot of things. In part that’s why I’ve taken so long to write this next installment in the ABCs of GLBT: There’s too many options. I might as well go through a few them along the way. It’ll all make my point in the end. I promise.
D is for Diligence. Since, in life, that’s what you need: You need to be diligent to get anything done. The fight for equal rights has been long and arduous so far, and it’s likely to stay long and arduous until it’s over. Without diligence, we–the GLBT community and the oft underappreciated armies of our straight allies–wouldn’t be where we are today. Without diligence, we won’t get where we want to be, either.
D is for Danger. The danger we feel in places of hatred, when we walk lightly around those we know despise us, but those who do not know us. The danger we feel while being beaten and unable to run. The danger we face every time we come out, never knowing whose happy face will turn into a horrible monster’s when they learn our secrets.
D is for Diversity. It’s trite. It’s cliche. But most importantly, it’s true. Diversity is all around us–in flora, in fauna, in architecture and academic programs–and in people. It’s our diversity that’s our greatest strength, as individual communities and as a nation. People of different backgrounds, no matter what they are, bring different perspectives to the table–and in the land of freedom, that’s all we could ask for, is it not? The opportunity to be free–to truly be ourselves. That is the true power of diversity.
D is for Distress. The distress borne of the danger we experience day by day. The distress of never knowing who will turn on us if they see the truth. The distress that boils over every time we open our mouths to try to speak the truth. The distress we feel relieved when, having spoken, all is well and calm, our fears subsided and our peace restored.
D is Discrimination. It’s hurtful. It’s harmful. It happens. I’ve experienced discrimination as a Jew and a gay man, and trust me, it’s not fun no matter what it’s for. There’s discrimination in the military, in schools, in health coverage, in marriage and adoption, in employment and almost every other area of life you could think of. It’s out there. It’s killing people piece by piece. If we don’t do something to stop it, how many people will turn to suicide as their final escape from the pain it causes? How many people will be hurt by it? Consider all the men and women, parents and children, loved ones and friends who will never get the blood they desperately need to survive due to outdated and discriminatory laws? How many willing women and men will never have the chance to freely fight for their country because of homophobic and unfounded laws? How many people must bear the burden of unnecessary hatred before we can stand up and say we’ve had enough? How long must we endure this dehumanizing reign of inequality? What are we waiting for before we fight for our rights?
And D is for Division. All of these things divide us. Diverse groups are only so diverse as each group allows: There are those allowed in and those not welcomed. Discrimination pits people against people, “us” and “them,” those attacking and those being attacked. And diligence, diligence divides us into those who keep going and those who are unable to wear all the weight, leading many to another unfortunate D: Death.
Is this really what we want for ourselves? For our sisters and brothers? Our families and friends? God forbid, for our children?
In math, addition is simple. Subtraction is a little less so: Who likes to take things away? But we learn to get used to it. Multiplication comes easy–it’s simply iterated addition. And then there’s division. Long division. And nobody likes it. Inherently, our minds refuse to divide–we are beings of groups and wholes, despising fractions and detesting divisions. It’s an innate aspect of almost everybody’s mathematical education. And it’s purely reflective of what we all know inside: It’s horrible to divide. And these are only numbers we’re dealing with! How much worse is division among people?
Violence. Hatred. Wars.
Misinformation. Misrepresentation. Malice.
Such things are the direct results of division, no matter how it’s derived. Diversity is a blessing. Division is a curse. Unless we can reconcile the two–unless we can open ourselves to the benefits and prospects of diversity, banishing discrimination once and for all, fighting with diligence along the way–we will never find peace. Not for us. Not for our country. Not for the world.
D is for all of these things. But D is also for Dandy, and Delightful, and Delicious–and won’t life be all of these things and so much more once we do away with distress and danger, discrimination and division? I think so. I believe so. In fact, I’d bet on it right now. The challenge is to get there, Day by Day.