I had the opportunity to interview Bishop Gene Robinson today and it was an interesting and inspiring conversation. For those who have never heard of him, he is the first openly gay bishop of the Episcopal church and the author of several books including his latest, God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage.
Thinking about my conversation with Bishop Robinson, it occurs to me that the most radical thing we can do is to be an example to others. I don’t mean in a preachy, judgmental way. But just to live and be who we are can be a radical, brave, powerful act. When we live our lives openly — despite pushback or even danger — we are creating micro-revolutionary moments in people’s lives.
When LGBT people come out and live openly, it challenges the stereotypes and false “conventional wisdom” that hold some people back from acceptance and understanding. I see my work and life as an outspoken feminist in much the same way. I “came out” as a survivor of sexual abuse because I do not need to live in shame or fear. I speak for fellow survivors because I know how hard it is to speak and that we are not all ready to do that. When people meet me and hear my story, they can no longer say they have never met a survivor of sexualized violence.
I fight for my own equality to have access to all forms of health care, equal pay, and an end to oppressive systems that limit my life and experience because of my gender identity. I do that openly because living out loud causes people to reconsider what they hold to be true, just as others sharing their experiences with me continues to enlighten me all the time. Big events do shape the world, but I am more convinced than ever that it is the small, everyday life events that really create ground-level change.
Here’s to the courage in all of us to be hope for someone else.