How To Be Politically Human

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

This morning Meredith Baxter came out on The Today Show with Matt Lauer. What I liked most about her conversation with Matt was that she was anxious, nervous, uncomfortable…and she did it—said the actual words “I’m a lesbian”—anyway because she wanted this revelation to be on her terms. I loved that she honored the political act of coming out, not by making it a political act, but by making herself human. We can all learn something from that.

What Meredith did on television this morning, I could relate to. I felt her angst, her anxiety, her discomfort, and all because I’ve been in her seat. Not on national television outing myself to Matt Lauer and the rest of the country, but outing myself to my world. It’s not something that happens everyday, or even every week (actually, it rarely happens anymore for me at all), but when it does happen that I feel the need to actually say the words, “I’m a lesbian,” it creates a tension which I cannot describe, but is clearly visible in Meredith’s conversation with Matt. With every uncomfortable twitch and twist, with each nervous tick and laugh, I became more and more connected to who she is. Not necessarily as a lesbian, but as a person—an actual human being.

We are all human, save the animals and plants and insects and inanimate objects which are clearly, scientifically not human, and we all have these emotions. But let me not generalize. I have the very emotions Meredith shared. I have angst. I have anxiety. I get nervous. I am human. Regardless of the topic (although I can relate to this particular topic), I loved seeing the truth of who she is shine through on national television. It was obvious to me that the conversation was not scripted, but completely genuine and authentic. It was just…her.

And while she was being just her, she didn’t shy away from the fact that coming out, that announcing to the world that you are in fact a lesbian is a political act. Whether it is or whether it isn’t, that’s for you to decide. But for her, it was important enough to bring up. And when she did, there seemed to be no judgment about anyone she was coming out to. She was genuinely thoughtful and showed for the audience in offering up a political “statement” regarding her sexuality and openness about it.

In her words, “…so much research has been done that says that if anybody knows someone who is gay or lesbian, then when they are addressing gay or lesbian issues, political issues, that affect their rights, they are less likely to vote against them.” She goes on to ask people to let her be “that lesbian you know now” when addressing the rights of gays and lesbians.

Not that she was asking for my approval (nor anyone else’s), but she certainly has it. I don’t believe that everyone who is gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgendered needs to come out on national television. But when we come out, I believe we need to be as human as possible. To allow those around us to see us as the human beings we are, and not some ballot check-box item that has nothing to do with anyone they know. This is not “us against them” even if it feels like it sometimes. Because remember…we are all human.

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  • jan

    As the Mum of a young gay man in the UK, I struggle with the political views and underlying beliefs and values of family members, friends and others – I try to subtly change their attitudes – I tweet, I post on facebook, I chat. I am afraid of alienating them by being too forceful or too political. This has helped me to know how to approach and make changes.

    The word is human.

    It is so different for my son than it was years ago in the UK, than it is is in other countries where children and young people take their own lives or have their own lives taken. I have to speak out in a way that contributes to changing things further wherever they need to be changed. Until we all treat each other in a way that recognises that humanness. In so many other ways also we need to recognise our humanness.

    Thank you for posting this. I wouldn’t have seen it otherwise. Maybe I just wasn’t looking hard enough or awake enough.

  • Thanks for this comment, Jan. I so appreciate you sharing the ways you subtly present yourself and your values to friends, family members and others.

    I think it’s so important to simply share, rather than demand to be listened to. Human, humanity, humanness … we can’t have too much of these topics being discussed. When there’s a discussion, there’s hope for change. When there’s bombardment, there seems to only be fleeing the scene, while everything remains the same (on both sides).

    Thanks again for stopping by, I’m so glad you found this post.

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