By guest blogger Andrea Rose Free
I am 27-years-old, born and raised in Oregon, and I’m a lesbian. In school, I knew two girls a couple of grades behind me: Andrea and Mavis. I would say both girls were ‘friendly acquaintances’ but not really ‘friends’ because we didn’t have classes together and didn’t interact much. I had what could be deemed a friendship with Andrea briefly after I graduated from high school, but we pretty quickly lost touch.
Fairly recently I reconnected with both of them on Facebook, Andrea first and then Mavis.
As I reconnected with Andrea and Mavis, I went through the mental debate that many LGBT people often face: Are these ladies advocates of equality or not? I’m at the point in my life where I only want to surround myself with people who support me, which even includes people who I only interact with on social networks. I always knew Andrea and Mavis to be nice people, but that doesn’t mean they supported my right to equality. And when I had known them many years before, I wasn’t out like I am now, so I didn’t know where they stood. I had heard through the grape vine that Mavis was Mormon, and we all know that ‘Mormon’ and ‘LGBT advocate’ don’t usually go hand-in-hand. And I worried that Andrea wouldn’t be a supporter either because I knew her brother wasn’t much of an equal rights supporter.
I quickly learned, however, that Andrea and Mavis support equality. But that’s actually quite an understatement. They are the best type of supporters you could ask for. They are outspoken straight allies who are not afraid to lose “friends” because of their activism.
Their outspoken promotion of equality amazes me because it’s not something I have often experienced. Typically, when someone believes in my right to equality, they advocate in a way that doesn’t compromise their comfort. They stay safely in the background, supporting me more when we’re behind closed doors.
But Andrea and Mavis have bent over backwards to encourage me and to help promote my Facebook page Gay Marriage Oregon, and they’ve done it openly. They’ve done it even though they both know — as many of us do — many anti-equality minded folks. They know that others will be judging their support for the LGBT community, and they know they could, and likely will, receive some backlash, yet they are unwavering. They’ve helped give me the strength and the hope to continue forward in the fight for equality; they’ve given me hope in humanity. Even though we’re still getting to know each other, their support for me, for someone they hardly knew, has made them my family. They have been more encouraging and loving than my biological family and pretty much anyone I’ve ever known in my life, and I cannot even express how much that means to me.
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Graphic image by Debbie Teashon.