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    Equal Rights! Special Rights!

    karenBeing a gay activist means that we have to do a lot of “splaining” and talking so that we can get our message of equal rights across to the masses. Some folks still believe that what gay people want are “special rights” rather than equal rights.

    In one of my early comedy routines, I told audiences that I didn’t want special rights as a gay person, however, I would like discounts. I wanted to walk into my local grocery store and shout: “Hey, I’m a black lesbian mom…Bag em up!” While that riff got a lot of laughs, it was ludicrous to even imagine such an action taking place.

    Another challenge we continually face is telling people that we want marriage equality, that there is no such thing as “gay marriage,” no matter the gender of the two people tying the knot or jumping the broom.

    After much thought, contemplation, and meditation on the subject, I finally got it! We Americans have a helluva time wrapping our minds around Equality!

    After all, we have to live with the collective memories of a slave system that rivaled any other such system in our human history. Even our nation’s forefathers had to wrestle with the notion of “equal rights” as it applied to their chattel property—which also included women and children—during the writing of the Constitution. We have yet to pass the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) in this country. Women are still paid less—dollar for dollar—than their male counterparts doing the same work! And the list of injustices surrounding Equality goes on and on.

    So the notion that LGBTQIC (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, and Curious) people dare to compare and choose equal rights over special rights is mind-boggling, mood-altering, and downright antithetical to the very fabric of American life as we know it.

    Division, divisiveness, and hatred of difference appear to be the order of the day. However, our movement exists and thrives in love, compassion, acceptance, tolerance, unity, and appreciation of diversity. Do these altruistic and high-minded qualities play out in every one of our encounters? Of course not. However, the space for dialogue exists and continues to be created in our communities; and it is in those interspecific interactions that change—real soul level, life-affirming and life-altering dynamism—takes place. In practice, the trajectory of one’s life expands, and real haters can become true lovers. At least that’s what I pray for!

    So while I would love to get discounts on my groceries, clothing, cars and homes based on identifying as a black lesbian mom, the truth is that I feel special and unique enough just being me. What I want…what I really, really want is Equality as I journey along my road pursuing happiness, enlightenment, and absolute freedom.

    Our LGBTQIC movement must be, become and remain a human rights movement based on equal rights for all. There, I said it. Now let’s do it! Let’s create a new story, one that we will all be proud to share with generations to come.

    Karen Williams believes in equal rights. Do you? To contact her and to learn more, please visit