Since the heartbreak of Ferguson, Missouri, more folks have given serious thought to the concept of white privilege.
As informed parents of gay sons or daughters, we may feel that accepting is not enough. Such parents can find their family loyalty calling them to be more assertive with friends and acquaintances when LBGT matters are mentioned.
Even when parents are trying their best to be supportive, some will have direct experience with people who will accept them but shun their gay family members. This will be shocking at first, but as these parents begin so see a pattern they may be looking for ways to make a difference.
Straight friends and family members of LGBT people may come to the realization that they are receiving “straight privilege” which is similar to “white privilege” we hear so much about.
Straight privilege puts one in the position of having a platform from which to speak their truth. They can still be themselves while promoting inclusion of LGBT folks as part of the lovely spectrum of our population. They can also speak up when derogatory comments are made in their presence.
One method some folks try could be called a trickle-down method. Cultivating respect among one’s friends and acquaintances at times spreads to others. However, that may not be enough at times. The straight friend or family member may feel the need to become more proactive by either speaking up clearly and regularly or when that does not make a difference, choosing to find friends elsewhere.
We all know there are some people who would be influenced by our logic and persuasion, but others are too set in their ways of prejudice to change. Sometimes political and legal remedies will, if not change that portion of the population, at least draw the line to show them what is legally permissible in modern society.
These are laudable efforts in the right direction, yet the LGBT person often doesn’t want to stand in the shadow of who their parents and friends are. They have a legitimate right to stand in the light of their own truth.
There is no doubt that “straight privilege” will continue to be a work in progress. Yet caring friends and family members will find ways to use their position of acceptance as a platform for making change and influencing others.
Copyright 2015 by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.