What have you done lately?
Within every community there are those that find a cause, injustice or revolution for which they can embrace and become passionate. As a community the gay rights movement demonstrates the power of unified concerns and the tenacity of a common goal. Victor Hugo said it best: "There is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come." It seems of late that our time has come.
Most of us are old enough to have lived through the civil and gay rights movements, feminism and the sexual revolution. Nowadays you see the term and the images of transgender everywhere - in the news, in feature films and on television sitcoms. But in recent years the perception of transgender people by the mainstream seems to have shifted just a bit, and we are portrayed as someone's brother, cousin or father - in other words we are just people of a different perspective.
What seems to be general familiarity now (at least in the metropolitan areas such as NYC, Philadelphia, Boston, Miami, New Orleans, London and Paris etc.), if not total acceptance, we sometimes take for granted. It was a rough and rocky road that was paved by transgender warriors before us, who refused to be less than who they were which makes our Saturday night romps possible. They risked losing friends, family, careers, and enduring arrest, mental and/or physical abuse and being socially exiled.
In every movement there are those that put themselves out there as beacon's of light, in many different ways, to guide those in the shadows - which is still true today. But the real question is WHAT HAVE YOU DONE LATELY? Isn't this part of your community too, isn't this part of who you are? Believe it or not it does not take much to make a difference. Some say, "I can't be in the spotlight - I have to much to lose". So they attend the local events to "get" what they need and call it a day.
Rose Royale stood before a packed house at the first annual Qwe're Music Fest this summer in NYC (produced by Chloe and Joe Birdsong), and in her soft spoken way challenged the gay, lesbian, trans-variant and transgender community to be inclusive and respectful of one another. I realized at that moment that everyone could contribute in a powerful way. You don't have to be a political activist, columnist, performer, celebrity or necessarily visible at all to make a difference - all you have to do is care. "I help out when I can" Rose said to me in a recent interview. Rose, who refers to herself as part drag-queen and part transgender, told me that "if I help one person it makes it all worth while".
So what can you do? Here is a short list. If you have any other suggestions please write us and share.
1. Respect Each Other - Our different opinions, perspectives, and experiences make us rich. Engage in ideas not debate.
2. Be a Light of Positive Energy - Simply be kind to the person next to you.
3. Be proud - of who you are and be of good nature when around those in and outside the community.
4. Educate - the Ignorant and Misinformed. Rose says "I can't live angry, some people really don't understand". Don't respond with anger - take just a moment to educate if the person is willing to listen.
5. Be Helpful - Provide advice, experience, friendship, or support to someone just coming out. Remember you were there once and it can be frightening.
6. Support Our Allies - The event promoters, performers, publications, foundations, and retailers provide the creative energy and dollars to expand our universe - support their efforts so they can continue their work.
7. Spread The Word - If you see, read, hear or experience something that moves you, tell a friend - or two, or three.
In the end we are a melting pot of society who outwardly expresses ourselves more openly than most of the mainstream. We can make of this community, and the way it is perceived by the mainstream, whatever we as a group, are willing to visualize. Be Victorious Where You Stand - Make a difference.
As always, be happy, be safe, and think pretty.
Brianna is a free-lance writer, who in the TG community has been a columnist for Girl Talk Magazine & TgForum.com, and a reporter for Lady Like Magazine and TG Community News. She can be reached through her website: www.briannaaustin.com