Dear Madam or Mister President,
Long have the voices of the LGBT community been silenced in this country. This marginalized group that has just as much say as the next, in actuality, has hardly a say at all. Though many laws have been passed protecting our rights, they are seldom enforced, especially in rural or deep inner-city areas. Hatred broods in these places, falsely based on morality or religion. While we are all entitled to our own beliefs, those opinions should not rule how we treat others; our society is notorious for striking down those it swears to protect.
I was raised during most of my time as an infant in a little hamlet nestled in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. I grew up around slur-flinging folks with minds so narrow you could prick your finger on them. Straight White Paradise. When I was two, my parents had a divorce, and I went to live with my mother in Virginia. She married a man whose family were devout Catholics, less blatant in their hatred, but just as narrow-minded. I had an average childhood, back and forth between the two worlds. Never did I question that hatred, until I realized one day that it applied to me.
I came out in the seventh grade, by means of a letter to my best friend. I was so worried about what my family would think, even though I knew my mother would support me. Even to this day, as I am a Junior in high school, I have only come out to my mother and at school. I want to come out to the rest of my family, but I am afraid that they will not accept me for who I am. Being gay is a big part of my life, and it is something that they were raised to have disdain for. The majority of the hatred in this country derives itself from tradition and upbringing. It seems that many are all too eager to inherit opinions from their elders than they are to form their own.
Thus, I believe that a proper course of action to take would be to raise awareness of the struggles of the LGBT community, especially in schools. Education on the subject of sexual orientation should not be as tabooed as it is. I am not saying, however, that it should be forced upon people; but we already have education on heterosexual relationships, and other orientations are neglected in this regard.
Though the LGBT community is a minority, we still deserve just as much representation as all other groups, considering the persecution we have gone through. We should not have to be quiet any longer. There have been great LGBT governmental officials, one of the earliest being Harvey Milk, who left us with this quote: “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.” Milk, as well as the Mayor of San Francisco, George Moscone, were assassinated on November 27th, 1978. Though it was not charged as such, this was no doubt a hate crime, and their assassin, Dan White, was only found guilty of manslaughter, under the shield of what would come to be known as the “twinkie defense”, which argued that White had eaten so much junk food before the murders that he was not aware of what he was doing.
Milk stated this quote on one of the several tapes he recorded as his will. This man, an openly gay man, knew that his assassination would be so very possible that he decided to make his will explicitly known by recording himself speaking it. As a young member of the LGBT community, it saddens me that he had found that necessary, and that White got off on such a disgustingly light sentence. Nearly forty years later, that hatred is still present and pressing. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, in recent years, homicides based on hatred against LGBT people have risen- especially against LGBT people that were affected by HIV.
So you, the President of the United States, should find it pertinent and fitting to promote the rights of the LGBT community. We have always been willing to work with the government; it is simply a matter of whether or not they wish to work with us, whether or not you wish to work with us. The things that would most help us would be changes in legislature: in certain laws that individual states have associated with discrimination against LGBT people, the proper enforcement of those laws, and in turn the training of officials on how to handle such situations. As I have said, initiatives should be taken on education, which is a much more intimate affair, to raise awareness of LGBT struggles. We don’t want to change people’s ways of living, just the way they respond to people living in ways different from them.
“Hating Gays: An Overview of Scientific Studies” PBS, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/assault/roots/overview.html. accessed October 24, 2016
“It’s still dangerous to be gay in America. Here are the statistics that prove it.” Fusion, June 12, 2016, http://fusion.net/story/313047/lgbt-violence-statistics/. accessed October 24, 2016
“The Official HARVEY MILK Biography” Milk Foundation, http://milkfoundation.org/about/harvey-milk-biography/. accessed October 24, 2016