I stand on the shoulders of giants. On Thursday, I met a number of people in Dublin who have been fighting hard for LGBT rights in their country. People who spent their free time going door to door having conversations with people from all different backgrounds. People who years ago called politicians repeatedly only to be rejected time and time again. I repeat: I stand on the shoulders of giants.
In college, I took a social movements course where we studied the theory behind social movements as well as different movements themselves. It was in this class that I realized just how recent some of these movements were and how they are still relevant to today. The civil rights movements was my mom’s generations movement. This wasn’t something that happened hundreds of years ago. In history classes I’ve taken, it’s almost as if we brush over this fact refusing to acknowledge these movements as seeping into the present.
LGBT rights is a very present and recent issue. Homosexuality in Ireland was decriminalized the year I was born (1993). It took the length of my lifetime of hard work to get to the point where gay marriage was legalized. I just learned this this week. I helped organized Accelerate.LGBT in Dublin. Accelerate.LGBT is a collaborative effort between Accelerate with Google and Automattic. Essentially, the goal is to run a conference series designed to help diverse businesses and nonprofits optimize their web presence. We work to provide focused workshops and hands-on, one-on-one support from Automattic and Google employees all for free. While this was only the second event I helped run, I am always in awe of the people who attend. People who help document the history of LGBT people. People who help run call centers for LGBT to find help. People who help LGBT find their voice. I went into this event wanting to give back without really understanding that I could say thank you a thousand times over to these wonderful people but it wouldn’t come close to the work they’ve put in before I was even born or even realized my sexual identity.
The fact that I could go to college and be out without major repercussions is incredible. I would argue I’m part of the first generation where this has been a reality for some. I went to an event held by Bloomberg where a panel of a variety of different people spoke on LGBT topics. One of the topics that was brought up had to do with whether we are post “coming out of the closet”. The response centered on that being a very San Francisco thought process but not one that’s pervasive in this world – we are in a bubble in San Francisco and places like it. Just because we have found places where we are accepted and celebrated as equal, doesn’t mean our work is done or that we should now view the LGBT journey as being post coming out. The more I meet the people who fought for me to have the rights I do, the more unqualified I feel to be a part of this movement, albeit a small one. Imposter syndrome creeps in and I’m left feeling overwhelmed.
I then read things like this and press on:
I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
During the planning of another accelerate.lgbt event, I was reminded that the LGBT community cuts across all different types of diversity: young, old, rich, poor, race, gender, education, sex, etc. It is a group that encompasses and is attached to other types of diversity. If we can harness that overlap and bring wider diversity communities together, we can magnify the goal of Accelerate.LGBT: to enable diverse groups to use the same tools and to have the same opportunity to succeed online as majority groups. Whether this means helping an LGBT nonprofit or helping a young female who is starting a small business, the goal remains the same. Until then, I will be seemingly endlessly frustrated with the beautiful startup websites advertising grocery delivery when the local nonprofit for abused children’s website doesn’t even have donation functionality in place. It is our moral responsibility to raise and equip these organizations doing work for the greater good of us all. Yet still, the fact that I can think this way and even have a far off plan for that is because I stand on the shoulders of those before me who allowed LGBT related sites to even exist in the first place.