Compassion seems like a trait in persons that should come so naturally. And, I really don’t believe that there are a lot of persons who don’t care to care about others. However, I do think that it is at times, more difficult to have compassion about another person’s situation, if we don’t have knowledge of it. Compassion to me, is what we achieve after striving for true understanding of another person’s experience.
I possess compassion for all human beings, and know that there but for the grace of God, go I. However, there is one group of persons whom deserve compassion, and if your difficulty in showing compassion to them is a lack of understanding or awareness, I am going to try to give you some information regarding that.
As I have mentioned on this blog before, I conduct trainings several times a year, and often my topic revolves around sexual orientation issues for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youths. These are teens in our neighborhoods, churches, local grocery stores, and jobs. These are the kids that don’t really have anyone safe to turn to, that can help them try to figure out why they feel so mixed up.
I want to share some pertinent facts with you:
*It is estimated that roughly one in ten persons has a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender sexual orientation. That means, there is a one in ten chance that these men and women are in your midst, without your awareness possibly.
*A person cannot tell by looking at a person if he or she is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Those are called assumptions, which seem to always get us into trouble. We have been socialized in many ways to believe that boys look a certain way, girls look a certain way, and anything that resembles either or both must be put into a category. People cannot be determined about who they are simply by how they appear. Truth.
*Many of the youths that are either self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or questioning, which means trying to figure out their sexual orientation, have been rejected by their families, judged by their churches, and harassed and even beaten in their schools. Have you heard of Lawrence King? The teen in California who was murdered by a classmate because Lawrence was openly gay, gender ambiguous, and was flirting with this young man, who proceeded to murder Lawrence. Many youths actually drop out of school, transfer, run away from home or live on the street because they cannot stand the rejection.
*Some church families are supportive of gay persons, but many are not. Some churches, in the name of saving someone’s soul, or to “love the sinner, hate the sin”, actually push these persons into groups that try to “convert” a person to heterosexuality, it is known by some as the Ex-gay movement. For many religious persons who believe that being gay is wrong, they also believe that being gay is a choice, a lifestyle, and not something that comes from God creating us.
*Hundreds of thousands of gay youths every year have thoughts of suicide, or actually attempt it. In addition, it is estimated out of all completed suicides by young persons, ONE THIRD are youths that are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, or questioning their sexual orientation. They have been so rejected, and had so few supports available to them, including those that youths usually can rely on, like teachers, family, friends, and church and community, that they believe, at age 15 or so, that life just isn’t worth living any more. That is criminal that we are losing that many young people to suicide due to a lack of support, awareness and understanding in our schools, our homes, our communities, and our churches. To me, THAT is the sin, letting those young people believe that they are not worthwhile to hold onto, tightly. THAT is indeed the sin being perpetrated, not sexual orientation.
*For those that choose life, they may use drugs or drink alcohol to cope with the stressors of coming out. They may be filled with internalized shame, after being told their whole lives what a boy or a girl is “supposed” to do, “supposed” to be like. Those messages play over and over again, until it becomes a jumble of what one believes they are, and what they are being told they are.
*HOMOSEXUALITY IS NOT A CHOICE. Who would choose it? It is hard, it is painful, it is isolating and shaming. Just as a heterosexual person cannot easily identify why they are attracted to and fall in love with someone of the opposite sex, so it is true with persons with a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender orientation. I cannot explain why my heart does not skip a beat for a person of the opposite gender, but goes crazy for my partner, a woman. The reason I cannot explain it is because it is as natural a part of a human being as eye color. As any of the other gifts that God has bestowed upon us as humans.
We are not better, or more entitled, or needing special praise or rights. We want to be understood and appreciated for our diversity and compassion and loving spirit. Compassion does not come with restrictions of who should be entitled to it and who should not.
What are your thoughts on what makes up compassion? Do you show compassion for those that you don’t know much about, and if you know more, does it help in your ability to show compassion?
Compassion, not for one, but for all, IS Ubuntu.