LGBT. These letters stand for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender." They also stand for "love, grace, beauty, and truth." The challenges of, and the solutions to, creating a different world are intertwined in these two representations of these four letters. Peace, hope, faith, and dignity are the winners and losers, depending on whether or not ignorance, prejudice, closed-mindedness, and fear take part in the battle.
Love is the game changer. It fills the human heart with the joy that could and should belong to all people. I have heard it said that a sorrow shared is a sorrow halved, and that a joy shared is a joy doubled. And I have seen people professing proudly and publicly in the name of God that two lesbian women are not entitled to the same kind of joy that is freely available to a man and a woman. It is the very essence of hate that two committed human beings should not be allowed to proclaim their love to their families and friends, to their neighbors and coworkers, to their communities, and to God for the petty reason that they are of the same sex.
Grace is the unspoken, moment-by-moment lifetime that takes place throughout our land when two gay men are not allowed to proclaim their love while walking in a society that feasts on the same joy they are denied. It is like sitting in a restaurant, starving to death, and watching the other patrons devour a seven-course meal. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary includes this definition of "grace": "a controlled, polite, and pleasant way of behaving." This is the perfect analogy for the way the LGBT persons of the world are asked to face discrimination. Society essentially says to us, "You starve while I feast, and please be controlled, polite, and pleasant about it." We are asked to demonstrate a saint-like amount of grace on a daily basis.
"Beauty" is the spot-on synonym for "bisexual." Often the most misunderstood part of the "LGBT" acronym, bisexuality is typically defined as sexual attraction toward both males and females. This description often inappropriately conflates bisexuality with infidelity, promiscuity, and noncommitment. The beauty is lost in the description and never allowed to shine. Love can sometimes transcend gender. It is love in its purest form. It is a love for a human being that is not contingent on that person's gender. Imagine looking at a rainbow and saying, "I love the rainbow because it contains the color blue," or, "I love the rainbow because it contains the color red." Now imagine looking at the rainbow and saying, "I love it not because of the colors it contains but because of the message it sends to the world."
"Truth" becomes the definition of "transgender" when a person stops pretending to be someone they are not. I did not transition. I transitioned the way I present myself to you, and I transitioned your understanding of who I am, but I am the same woman I have always been. What I did was begin telling you the truth about me. And in the process, I bloomed like a flower finally allowed to live in the light.
I know that not everyone fits in an "L" box, a "G" box, a "B" box, or a "T" box. None of the people I know truly fits in any box. We, as human beings, are far more relevant to the universe than that. We can be found in all the colors of the rainbow, in all the areas where one color blends into another color, in a different light or an undefinable space. The words "love," "grace," "beauty," and "truth" apply no matter where someone might find themselves in the spheres of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Wherever we are, being who we are is the most powerful tool we have in our battle for equality. Positive visibility is the opener of doors. Letting others see the human being who does not fit into the binary is the means by which we create more space for ourselves and for the LGBT* next generation. Love, grace, beauty, and truth are aspects of our humanness that are seldom the focus of who we truly are. Part of the movement toward equality needs to embrace these qualities.
At the same time, we must continue the fight. Silence about our oppression does not facilitate change. Allies are an extraordinarily important part of our struggle for an end to legalized discrimination. I believe that the people who line up next to me when I enter the battleground do so for two reasons: first, because they know that oppression in any form is wrong and needs to be changed, and second, because they have experienced my humanness in a way that clarifies what they are fighting for.
Knowledge and information are the keys to acceptance and understanding. Fear and ignorance are the locks. When one person shares, it is like putting a key in a lock. When one person listens, the key turns and the lock opens. Another human being has a bright, new, shiny key. Together, one person at a time, we change the world.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Love, grace, beauty, and truth. It is all one and the same.