Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit. —Mahatma Gandhi
What does it feel like to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered? For those of us who don’t identify with any of those sexualities, understanding what their life is like and the obstacle course they face can be challenging. To the point we have difficulty empathizing as both individuals and as a society, the less likely we are to be understanding and tolerant of those whose identity is different from our own. The ad below is trying to help us fill that gap.
The ad, which might be more appropriately considered as a short film, was created by TWBA/Paris for Inter-LGBT, a French non-profit focused on support and advocacy for the LGBT community. With the approaching Pride marches across France in June, the organization “wanted to convey a strong message and remember that human rights are not negotiable and we will continue to advance for it.” The film does an excellent job of conveying their message without using many words. Yet, for some, especially those who live in more conservative environments where they may be the only person nearby who identifies as they do, this film may be a bit too real. You may have already experienced this nightmare. This obstacle course is a part of your life.
The film puts the viewer behind the eyes of a marginalized person. The scene starts at school with the bullying and taunting, then moves to exclusion at parties, the butt of jokes, on the ground surrounded by bullies, a father’s rejection, a mother’s tears, and all the closed doors. I know many who have been through these exact situations, and some who are still there. For too many people, this nightmare is their daily reality, and it hurts at a depth the rest of us rarely try to understand.
At the end, the film concludes by stating, “Until society progresses, we will keep moving forward.” In the meantime, though, the obstacle course is still there. If anything, life throws a new obstacle or two at marginalized people on a daily basis.
On its website, Inter-LGBT expresses the struggle in this way:
We argue because we refuse that fear wins.
We argue because we have decided to live at any cost.
We move forward because we think that love is stronger than hate.
We argue because we have faith in society’s ability to reinvent itself.
We move forward because that is how we change society, by showing the way.
We argue because we know we are not alone.
Recent political actions in both Georgia and North Carolina remind us of how the struggle is so very real everywhere you look. We cannot simply look at this as an LGBT issue and leave them alone to fight against the obstacle of oppression, the obstacle of cruelty, and the obstacle of dehumanization on their own. We all must take up this cause and commit to the elimination of each and every obstacle that unfairly blocks all marginalized people.
Take a look at the film. Understand the nightmare of the obstacle course for yourself.