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Friday, December 9, 2011

The Human Rights Are Gay Rights Tribe | Maris Ehlers Photography

This week, my time at the Seth Godin Medicine Ball workshop has been an amazing experience. I doubt I'll be able to shut my brain off for quite some time.

The timing of this trip isn't lost on me, either. Almost a year ago to the day I was in NYC with my brother, Mark, to tell our brother Kirk's story, one that has sadly affected the lives of far too many children and adults over the past 35 plus years.  His life was used to do it.

After weeks of preparation and phone interviews, we told this story in gut wrenching detail over several hours in a dark, yet intensely lit room to Anderson Cooper of CNN, knowing that our lives would never be the same, knowing that once we knew, we had to do it. 

We told this story with a mixture of fear, conviction, resolve and angst. We didn't do it for fun, we didn't do it for notoriety. We knew that while there would be many people out there who shared the same world view, that human rights come before any other biases and beliefs, we also knew we were REALLY putting ourselves out there, throwing ourselves in front of the bus, if you will, to tell a true and powerful story to the people who wanted / needed to hear it, and to make a difference in the world if we could.

After the interviews were over, we then unexpectedly waited another six months for the story to break. It broke at the right time. 

On my son's 8th birthday, the story began to unfold in a series of daily segments on Box Turtle Bulletin and CNN, and in the national media, right before our very eyes. It was an insane month or two, but I am grateful for every moment: every email, every phone call, every tweet, facebook post and comment. Yes, every single one. And they still come.

What we found is exactly what Seth believes happens when  powerful stories are told (although I didn't know it at the time). That tribes of people with the same world views are born, identified, strengthened and united.

The fascinating thing is that the tribe that formed wasn't just made up of the people I thought it would be, LGBT people. The tribe that forned was such an amazing cross section of people: gay, straight, married, single, conservative, liberal, Christian, athiest, young, old, men and women. And they joined from all over the world. From places you wouldn't expect.

How were they united? What was and is their world view? There are two that this tribe shares:

1. That you are who you are, and no one should be allowed to force you to change.
2. That like in Hilary Clinton's human rights speech from this week, gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights (BTW, you do not have to be liberal to agree with this statement). 

Is this story making a difference? Yes, it is.

It has made a difference to the many people who wrote and shared tragic stories of their own childhoods.  Stories that echoed Kirk's. Perhaps not on the scale of what was started at UCLA, but familiar nonetheless.

It has made a difference to the youth who finally understand that the people who are trying to change them are the ones with the problem. NOT them.

It has made a difference to the people with enough grace and courage to share that Kirk's story reached them in a way that will change the way they treat people who are different in their lives. That they now truly do know better and will do better.

And it made a difference to the college student in September, who upon hearing me speak about suicide awareness on her campus, immediately sought help from teachers because she had been seriously contemplating suicide.  

Seth told our group that if you enjoy the process of bringing about change by shaking things up, by rattling the tree, then do it and do it loudly. But if the results are what is important, than you must have a different approach, one that brings people together, one that guides them along a path, not divides them further.

As we approach the 8th Anniversary of Kirk's death this month, and we try to continue to make a difference in the world, this is a good distinction for us to make. Because the stakes are THAT high.

The full series of video segments from AC360 (over a four night period) are here:

The Sissy Boy Experiment Segment 1

The Sissy Boy Experiment Segment 2

The Sissy Boy Experiment Segment 3

The Sissy Boy Experiment Segment 4

For a complete investigation (with many more details, research and in-depth interviews), please visit Box Turtle Bulletin. The investigation is called "What Are Little Boys Made Of?" by Jim Burroway.  Jim did an excellent job in capturing and providing context of the story, something that TV can rarely do. 

1 comment:

Dee Brun said...

Thank you for sharing this will no doubt help so many...

I lost my brother 15 years ago to suicide, I think about him every day...