In the last issue I took a look at 2009 and several of the issues that stuck in my mind for that year. As many of us do at the start of a new year, over the course of the past week or so I have spent a decent amount of time soul-searching. I’ve thought about the kind of person I am, the kind of person I want to be, and the kind of people I want to raise my children to be. And I’ve decided to share some of those personal observations and the results of some of that soul-searching.
Probably the single thing that struck me the most as I reviewed my columns (both for QSaltLake and other outlets) over the past year is the sarcastic and negative tone I tended to take. As we look at social and political issues, it is very easy to find those to whose beliefs and actions we are opposed. I’ve found several such people, and I’ve written about them, rarely in positive terms. For that I apologize. One thing I ask from my employees is that when they bring me a problem, they try to offer me some possible solutions, or at the very least some means by which they’ve already tried to solve the problem. Regarding the issues I’ve discussed in these columns, I’ve failed to do so one more than one occasion. That is my first New Year’s Resolution: to bring a more positive approach to my writing, to work on a positive note FOR equality.
That, I think, is a lesson other activists and people involved in gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer affairs can take to heart. Not to say that everyone else is doing the same thing — I think there are plenty of people who are approaching equality issues from a very positive perspective. However, there are also plenty of people out there who have been doing it the same way I have been, being critical of legislation or commentary, but providing no real positive alternative.
As I mentioned in my last column, the key to making positive change in our society is understanding. Once people truly understand the issues involved and the people behind those issues, change will happen. Maybe it’s trite, but I do believe the average person has an inherent goodness and fairness that will eventually triumph over their irrational fears and the propaganda spewed forth by extremists. The key to helping this understanding along is to not play the game on the extremists’ terms. Propagate that understanding. Hold firm to your ideas, beliefs and demands for equality but do so rationally — without hatred and without violence.
Is there change in the wind for 2010? Absolutely. We saw some decent change in 2009, and this year has other city and county governments looking at gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender-inclusive ordinances similar to those passed in Salt Lake City last November. The Legislature will be in session again shortly, and all of the Common Ground bills that died last year can be resurrected this year. The important thing in 2010 will be to help Utahns understand what those bills really mean: equality for all Utah residents, not special privileges for a certain group.
OK, so I sound a bit preachy, but it’s that time of year, so cut me a little slack. Remember, I intend to put my money where my mouth is and work from the positive angle as well this year. If I don’t, please feel free to call me on my bullshit.