Sunday Reflections: This is what courage looks like
- the ability to do something that frightens one.“she called on all her courage to face the ordeal”2. strength in the face of pain or grief.“he fought his illness with great courage”
For weeks now people have been talking about Caitlyn Jenner and courage. You don’t have to like that Caitlyn Jenner came out as transgender, though your anger and hostility proves exactly why her doing so is in fact an act of courage. For my entire life GLBTQ have been harassed, beaten, killed or taking their own lives. They have grown up watching people stand on street corners holding signs saying “God Kills F@gs Dead”. They have been told in no uncertain terms that there are whole segments of the population who not only hate them, but actively wish them harm. Coming out is an act of courage. In the year 2015, coming out is still an of courage. It means that tomorrow night or one night next year, you may be walking down the street and stumble into a group of those very people and lose your life because you chose to be open and honest about who you are.
My father was in the military. It is not a dishonor to him to say yes Caitlyn Jenner is brave. People can be brave and show courage in different ways. One does not negate the other.
My friend has a 5 year old child who has tried to take his own life 3 times because he was born a girl but feels he is supposed to be a boy. Caitlyn Jenner coming forwards help kids like this, help families like my friend. Thing 2 is the same age as my friend’s child. I can not imagine what it is like to live in fear as your 5-year-old child tries to take their own life.
Bravery and courage comes in all shapes and sizes. There is more than one way to show courage. Standing tall in a world that says you have no right to stand tall is indeed an act of courage. And it is an act that has the potential to save a lot of other lives, if you don’t end up losing yours for this very act.
40% of homeless youth are homeless because they have come out as GLBTQ+ and have been rejected by their family.
30 to 40% of GLBTQ+ youth attempt suicide
I know that a lot of people have strong religious beliefs about GLBTQ issues. I, too, once held these same beliefs. But despite what I may or may not feel about the issue of homosexuality and being transgender, at the end of the day I can’t escape two irrefutable facts. One, my God has told me to love everyone. Two, GLBTQ people lose their lives every day because so many of us forget about point number one. If you don’t understand why Caitlyn Jenner is showing incredible courage, then maybe it’s time to rethink what courage means.
Caitlyn Jenner could be the next Matthew Shepard, to name just one of the 1,000s of people who have been murdered for being GLBTQ. That alone makes Caitlyn Jenner an example of courage.
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About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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