Within the GLBT community, men and women express themselves in a variety of ways. Some men and women are "indistinguishable" types, like your son, your brother, your children, your sister, your mom or your dad.
Still, the media generally gravitates to the extreme sides of our community. The media are in the business of making news, and news is leather boys and drag queens, not the "indistinguishable" types. Nevertheless, be assured, that there are plenty of "indistinguishable" people in your community, maybe working with or living right next to you.
Certainly, there have been major changes in the last 40 years, however, people who are perceived as being GLBT continue to be fired from their jobs, are denied housing, are physically and mentally abused, are denigrated by Congress, many organized religions and society in general.
We do not ask for "gay rights" or "special rights." We ask for the same civil rights that all citizens of our country enjoy. We ask for the right to marry, we ask for the right not to be discriminated against when we look for employment or housing, we ask for the right to be protected from people who commit hate crimes. These are not "gay rights," these are civil rights, constitutional rights guaranteed to every citizen of the United States of America.
We have done a good job over the past 40 years to show the worldwide community that we exist everywhere that humans exist and have since the beginning of time. We need to show that we bleed when we are cut, that we want to be respected, that we cry when we are hurt, that we yearn to love and be loved, that we feel pain, that we want to be a part of society and that, in fact, we are just like you. We are your brothers, we are your sisters, we are your mothers, we are your fathers and most importantly, we are your children. We are all part of humanity.
Along with Dr. Flowers and on behalf of the 40,000 GLBT citizens of this state, I urge the Legislature to do the right thing and pass the Employment and Housing Non- Discrimination Act.
Severino is a member of the Charleston Human Rights Commission.