Date of Completion
Open Access Capstone
Master of Arts (MA)
Forty years have passed since the civil rights movements in the 1960s and 70s, and even with significant social and political strides made for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) communities, some parts of life look and feel the same. The negative effects of homophobia still reign large and can be seen in state and national policies and through the harassment and violence towards LGBT youth. As a heterosexual, I want to know the best ways I can support and advocate for LGBT rights, and I wonder if through my privileges as a straight woman, compared to being a homosexual woman, if I am better suited to dispel the terrible myths concerning LGBT lifestyles and history. Two things are certain -- that the history of the LGBT movement follows similar patterns of its brother and sister movements (African- Americans’, Women’s, Immigrants’ Rights) and that a nasty motivation for power allows people to manipulate others into being fearful and hateful towards another group, simply because the other group threatens what they believe to be right and wrong or productive for society. Not surprisingly, one answer to all of this oppression is achieved by calling attention to the everyday lives of gay and lesbian people; allowing the supposedly unknown known. In learning the history of the LGBT movement, I am empowered in knowing the past challenges and successes. But even before diving into the history, I had to start with myself. I had to reflect on my own biases, assumptions, and attitudes. Reflection was pivotal in opening up to a new perspective. In my development as an ally, I reflected on how a heterosexist society sets out to privilege a very limited view of sexuality and love. Through reflection, I now have a clear sense of the negative impacts of homophobia and the dangers they present to society. Being an ally is hard. Many times I do feel people’s judgment on me for why I care or advocate for an issue that does not pertain to me. But there are things to be done and individual actions that people can take in dismantling homophobia. A personal action I created was a tumblr to highlight and profile LGBT people (living and dead), allies, and organizations. The tumblr is named Just Like Me and U (You) and can be found at: http://justlikemeandu.tumblr.com/. The goal is to raise awareness that the LGBT community has its own defined history, celebrate those who break the mold of heterosexism, as well as to educate young LGBT youth in understanding their history. All of the names of people that appear in bold throughout this paper can be found at Just Like Me and You (U) with photos and short profiles. The idea for me with my tumblr is to leave enough information to ignite some level of curiosity that would allow the viewer to want to go find out more about the person or organization.
Callaghan, Meghan R., "Discovering My Passion as an Ally: Gaining Awareness of the History of the Gay Rights Movement" (2012). Critical and Creative Thinking Capstones Collection. 44.