An open letter to the facebook generation

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Many of us younger members of the gay community are just itching for an opportunity to spread our activist wings and become full fledged member of the flock. How do we do it? Many of our parents and families would be ashamed to see us marching down main street in our brightest colors, and so we do not march. We fear being ostracized for our being too open at school, work, or communities and so we sit and we wait for someone else to change our futures and change the way we are viewed. Why then, is progress so slow? We are told that we are too young to understand that we don’t have a grasp of who we truly are yet and in many ways we understand this as the truth. Until now we have quietly assumed a passive role and quietly waited for Equality Utah and other organizations to be our knights in shining armor. Today, our fear ends and it is time to spread your wings. In many ways, this letter is a rallying call to all of you who wait and watch on the sidelines betting on which side will ultimately score a touchdown in our favor. Today, we pick up the sword of the social networking site and we begin to cut a swathe through the tangled jungle of destiny, today we join the LGBTQ+ community and we become the power of the movement.

Never doubt that you have an uncanny ability to storm the trenches of equality in Utah and change your life for the better. Never doubt that the small actions you take today can change the entire state of Utah. Join will me in the creation of the future and help me move utah forward. You may be asking yourself how you can make a difference. You may wonder why someone as “small” and “insignificant” as you can make a difference. Do not worry, because for the longest time, although you may not have had a direction, you had willpower, you’ve endured cruelty and torment, it is time you began the healing process. While marching in a pride parade may be good for your healing as an individual because marching in solidarity with the beautiful people of our community shows us that we are not alone, these parades will never change laws. While we compare our movement to civil rights, we are not the same. When blacks began their quest for rights they faced many of the same problems we do, ignorance, discrimination, and an uneducated and fearful majority. However, their circumstances are different. While blacks had their skin color to unify them, we do not. When we march we are not visibly gay, because for us to be gay in the eyes of those watching we must create an image of what gay is. When I walk into a store, no one can look at me and say that I am gay, but were I black, my skin would reflect that I am black. Sexuality in itself is one of the most intimate aspects of all of our lives but it is not a visible aspect, while I cannot change the color of my skin and I will always be marked as such, in many ways I must dress the part of my sexuality. The very fact that our sexuality is an invisible quality makes the unification of our community a purely false one. The blacks had their skin to unify them, what do we have? We have Facebook.

Our community has such an interesting dynamic to it that in many ways it is hard to characterize it. What is our community? Are we a rag-tag collection of misfits that all have strange fetishes? Or are we a collection of individuals who choose to express our sexuality in ways that society cannot yet understand? This is a trick question because currently we closely resemble the first, but in the future we will resemble the second. Currently we are a movement without a community, we move around looking for weaknesses in the status quo to exploit and attempt to change. The problem isn’t commitment or manpower, our problem is a lack of genuine leadership and unity. There are numerous “leaders” in the community now, but what do they promise? They lead us from rally to rally and always make sure to exploit our fear of further rejection, rather than uniting us they seek to create a unity built on anger. Rather than creating a community of inclusion they seek to use our anger to attack institutions like the LDS church that they believe have wronged them. If these men are leaders, then why have only 3 cities in our state passed laws protecting us from discrimination? If these men are leaders then why do individuals who are minorities and LGBTQ+ feel that they do not belong to either our community nor the rest of society? If we want to survive as a movement then it is time to create a community. Join with me today in creating this community.

I recently started the Utah LGBTQ resource page on Facebook and over the course of 2 weeks we have gone from 3 fans to well over 800. In the next couple of weeks, we anticipate our fan base to grow by 2000 or more and as we begin to expand our coverage, the amount of change we can make is growing. You can find the Utah LGBTQ resource page at (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Utah-LGBTQ-resource-page/110842012275380) Through our page we are trying a different approach to change, we are laying down our picket signs and we are picking up our cell phones, we are abandoning our streamers and signing into facebook. Although the fight for rights remains the same, the ways we fight are now changing. Since our diversity is our greatest strength we must rely on more unconventional sources for unification. Whereas before we had to be seen on television, now we can communicate our ideas instantaneously online. I ask you to join with me in a new movement, harness the power inside of you and use your abilities to help me to create a new community. One that will be characterized by unity and inclusion, not by anger and misinformation. We must educate before we can change anything, and as a result I ask that you begin to join with me in using our greatest characterizing factor, our love for technology, to the creation of a new LGBTQ+ community, not only are we the “gay community” but we are the community that should not be afraid to talk about HIV/AIDS and venereal diseases. We must come to embody the unity we so desperately seek. It will not be easy but below I have created a list of goals for my organization this year and ways that you can participate.

Goals of the Utah LGBTQ resource page 2010:

Creation of a gay-straight alliance and necessary resources in every high school in the state, the only way to do this is to work together, when one school succeeds we must learn from their mistakes and transmit their successes to spread the success to the entire state. You can help me by helping me to create a network of information on gay friendly teachers and staff, by creating a list of student organizations already at the school, and most of all by helping to educate all of the students around you about why these resources are necessary.

Expansion of organizations like FAYME  and Simply Social which are both organizations to create friendships and support groups for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Dramatic expansions in the numbers of PFLAG chapters around the state, currently there are 3, Salt Lake, Ogden, and St. George.

Support and citizen activism to show support for nondiscrimination ordinances statewide and creation of a network of individuals committed to advancing the causes of the LGBTQ+ community.

Petitioning the Red Cross of Utah to end the practice of restricting LGBTQ+ individuals from donating blood due to their sexual partners, if they already test all blood for HIV and other diseases why does it matter who we choose to have sexual relations with.

And many more…

All of this can be accomplished when we work together, when we understand the diverse needs of our communities members and work actively to ensure those needs are met. While we may not be on the capitol steps with flags and charismatic protesting, we are changing things that affect every member of our community. I ask that you join with me on Facebook and at all of the events around the state to start creating a community of inclusion. Join me by coming out to those you know and listening to their concerns, by assuring them that everything will be alright. Join with me to spread information about our causes to our parents, friends, families, and allies. Work with me to change the things we can, and work toward the things that it is not time for.

My contact information is:

http://www.facebook.com/turner.c.bitton (801) 814-3660      [email protected]

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