One lens through which to examine equality is GEOGRAPHIC.
Just walk around. Where do you feel you can be yourself? Be safe?
Often, LGBT citizens have been shut out of eight different types of places. Claiming equal citizenship and building an equal voice is a matter of steadily expanding LGBT presence in each area.
Look around any city and you can see eight types of buildings that symbolize these places and the kinds of cultural conversations that may need to change in order to be more inclusive.
CITY HALL or the STATE HOUSE, the place where people come together as a society to decide how to order their affairs, where laws are made, where “rights” are defined
The CHURCH or TEMPLE, which communicates our religious understandings of the world and of life
The THEATER where we see or where we become performers of the stories of our lives and loves — and these are not just formal theaters or movies, but also bars, dances, hotels, public parks… all forms of media
The HOSPITAL which teaches us what health is and how we should care for one another
The SCHOOLHOUSE and the MUSEUM which are the educational institutions that preserve our memories and tell the next generation what, and who, is important
The SPORTS STADIUM or GYM where we come together in the spirit of contest and games to build physical and emotional bonds with one another
The MARKETPLACE where we trade with one another, where we often are open to encountering not only new products or new services, but new people in the public mazes of the bazaar
The HOME where in privacy and safety you hope to shape your personal identity with emotional support
How many of these do LGBT citizens feel welcome or equal in?
Which of them might provide a lever for changing the others?
In Gay Seattle, I used this geographic lens to organize the story of how that city’s marginalized lesbian and gay citizens worked their way toward an equal public voice. It was not a fast process. It took generations. But realizing the variety of different conversations to be entered can help individual LGBT advocates decide where best to use their own talents.
Sometimes I refer to these cultural conversations and institutions as “chess” pieces to be moved if LGBT citizens are to secure full public voice. You can see the chessboard here: “Chess” for LGBT Social Change
For an analytical paper about the Seattle case, click: Gaining a LGBT Voice in Seattle