As a gay guy, I often ask myself: how much personal responsibility do I have in the lgbtq community? I have read books, watched movies, and looked up organizations on-campus to volunteer with when I return to school in the fall. Through this blog I have shared some of my experiences. And yet, I still lack a clear definition of how much I need to do. How much of the weight falls on my shoulders? What is my gay duty?
Answer: It doesn’t exist. Sort of.
The same concept applies to individuals who identify with an oppressed group or care about the issues they face. As a woman, how much time do you need to dedicate to feminism, the Hobby Lobby ruling, and the intersection of gender roles and mental illness? As a non-white individual, how much should you contribute to spreading awareness about your culture and fighting racism? As a straight white male who happens to care about women’s reproductive rights, who draws the lines when it comes to your support?
After awhile, I reached the conclusion that every individual should create their own standards. You should dedicate as much of yourself as you want, otherwise, your efforts will either fall flat or feel unfulfilling.
I do not advocate selfishness. Rather, we should strive to develop a sincere, intrinsic love for what we fight for – defending the cause for the cause’s sake – rather than forcing ourselves to volunteer, picket, or campaign just because we assume we have to. Many ways exist to support lgbtq rights and how people perceive us; they range from working for the Human Rights Campaign, to proving that gay men can succeed in several different professions, to donating money to a trans organization, to mixing in lgbtq advocacy and awareness into our daily lives. And, no matter how much we argue for the causes we believe in, people will push back – case in point, Macklemore – which just proves the importance of internal motivation.
Basically, don’t let gay – or female, or black, or fat – define you. Free yourself from preconceived notions and duties. Do what you want to do to improve yourself and the lives of those around you. Don’t let gay define you.
What do you guys think? I have been pondering about the ideas in this post for awhile, and I still feel a little unsure of how I expressed them – I also believe that we can develop passion for different issues by educating ourselves and then taking action. Do you feel obligated to fight for any causes you don’t feel too strongly about? Also, I’d like to hear more people’s opinions about Macklemore, because maybe I’m just missing the boat on why he’s not the best ally.
Also, if you want to check out my thoughts on Fan Art by Sarah Tregay, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, or Ashfall by Mike Mullin, you can do so here, here, and here respectively. Hope you’re all having a great week!