Over the past 48 hours I have felt more loved than possibly any other time in my life. Calls, texts, emails and DM's from friends- even strangers!- showing their support for me and my LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters. The Anonymous Writer thought that their letter would instill fear and bully me into taking down my flag. I have to laugh at just how much their plan backfired! Reading the hope-filled comments on my original Facebook post brings tears to my eyes. Amongst this sea of emotion and support, however, the question has to be asked: what now?
Our community has the passion, education, and people-power to make tremendous progress and change if we truly rally together. So, how do we do it? Here are some ideas:
Fly a flag or symbol of support. It may seem bold, but placing a flag, sticker, or simply a rainbow in your window is a great way to be an ally. Here's a great gay/veteran owned Etsy shop to buy from. My neighbor's have hand-drawn pride rainbows and posters in their windows that their daughter drew, so if anything, construction paper will do the job.
Be vocal on social media. Facebook is one of the few social media's that does not operate in an echo chamber, and you're bound to come across homophobic rhetoric while you scroll, probably from someone defending their views with their faith. Past a link to the Reformation Project's Facebook page in the comments and ask the original poster to seek more education on the LGBTQ+ community. Scrolling by a hateful post is the same as ignoring a hateful comment in conversation.
Be bold in face-to-face conversation. Unfortunately, many of us have families who hold deep biases against various minority groups. While a Twitter feud with a total stranger might not bring much change, conversations with family members can be incredibly powerful. The closer you are with the family member or friend, the harder the conversation may be- but you're the most qualified person to have it. A great way to get them started is to send them my original post and ask them how it made them feel. That conversation starter could take you a long way.
Donate to local organizations. While there are plenty of national organizations that are worthy of donations, it is often easier to effect change at the local level. Make a donation to a local organization with the stipulation that the money is used for Diversity & Inclusivity purposes. That way you know where how your money will be used, and who it will have the greatest impact on.
Join a committee or board. The easiest way to make positive change is to be a part of the conversation in your own community. Join a board or committee, and propose D&I initiatives that your group can implement. If you don't do it, who else will? It can be time consuming to be involved at that level, but change does not happen overnight, and if you sit on the sidelines you're not really in the game. Here is a list of Batesville organizations you can explore.
These are just a few of the many, many ways that you and I can be involved to further create change in our community. Please join in the conversation and suggest further approaches to making our community a more accepting place. This is only the beginning, and remember, you are loved.