I know I only posted this three months ago but given the crap I saw on FB this morning, it’s become necessary to do it again.
The thing about that thing:
There’s this: Your Facebook friends ask you to change your avatar to a certain color to help stop child abuse. Or you’re on twitter and people are changing their avatar pink to show they are aware of breast cancer.
And here’s the thing: No one is for child abuse. No one is unaware of breast cancer. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t support breast cancer research or who doesn’t care about child abuse.
But that equal sign, it’s different. It’s not just “slacktivism.” And heres why: Because there are a lot of people who think gay couple should not be able to get married. There are people who think homosexuality is a sin or abomination. There are people who subscribe to archaic views and think marriage should only be defined by their religion. There are people who don’t want people who are not like them to be able to marry the person they are in love with. There are people who would deny others the right they have to legally spend the rest of their lives with the person they love, adore and honor in wedded bliss if they choose to do so. There are people who want to strip gay people of all their dignity. There are people who think gay people are somewhat less than human and treat them as such.
That equal sign means “I support you.” It means “I am with you.” It means “I respect you as a person no matter who you love or sleep with.” It means “You are not doing this alone. We are with you. We are here.” And these things are important to voice because unlike breast cancer or child abuse this is a very divisive issue with strong willed opponents. It is important to voice your support and let the gay community know you stand with them, that even though there are narrow minded people looking to strip them of basic human dignity, there are also people who believe in their fight, who believe in their right to marry the one they love.
Just as changing your avatar is not going to cure breast cancer, posting a picture of an equal sign is not going to suddenly make gay marriage legal everywhere. But no one thinks you are for breast cancer. No one thinks you are for child abuse. Those are givens.
For a gay person, your support of their rights is not a given. They don’t know unless you tell them that there are people who stand with them. In a world where bullying, ignorance and prejudice still exist, in a society where people are still looked down upon because of their sexual orientation, a show of support can go a long way. Because they don’t know. It’s a crazy world out there and they don’t know who supports them and this is kind of an important time in their lives so letting them know you share their vision for marriage equality is kind of a big deal.
Most of us who support marriage equality wear that equal sign in our heart every day. We’re just taking a moment now to make sure the people who need to see it - those we support and those who are against us - know where we stand. Because it’s important to let the opposition know we’re out here.
And that’s the thing about that thing: there’s an opposition. That’s when you need to speak out for what you believe in. If posting an equal sign on my tumblr lets even one of my gay friends or even a gay stranger know that I am with them, and if it opens a dialogue with even one person who opposes my view, then hooray for equal signs.
And this is just my opinion talking but I feel like saying “post an equal sign to show support to the gay community in this important moment in history” is more action taking than saying “turn your avatar black to stop child abuse.”
So that’s my take on this “slacktivism” thing.