The Power of Equality

Growing up as a child, my mother made the importance of treating everyone equally crystal clear. Since I could remember, she instilled the strong beliefs in my sister and me that we were not to judge so quickly before walking a mile in other peoples' shoes. I quickly picked up and believed that was how society was going to be.

Now that I am older, I have had enough experiences to realize that is not always the case. Still having those beliefs permanently engraved within myself, I believe that everyone deserves the same equal opportunity in life because any equal law or opportunity that uplifts the human soul and personality is a just one.

When I was struggling with accepting who I am, I journeyed off in search of comfort and consolation. My belief was challenged when I was first coming to terms with being gay. Having grown up in a religious family, I believed if I ever needed assistance or advice I was welcome in the church anytime. I went to church seeking advice and I was basically told that I could either live a celibate life, or I could still be gay and just marry a man and lead a heterosexual life.

Having been told that these were my only options made me feel I was being looked down upon, as if I could feel their blazing glares burning holes into my skin with judgment and hate. I felt as though I was being forced into forfeiting a truly happy future because I was less than what was expected in the eyes of many. After having that discouraging experience it really opened my eyes and put the true aspects of inequality into perspective.

Another experience I went through was one of the most frustrating things I've faced. Throughout high school I was an active drama student, and theatre was my passion; I lived and breathed theatre. My senior year of high school, my Production and Performance class was holding auditions for the winter main stage play. I was confident as a performer and determined to land the role of the female lead. I searched and searched for the perfect monologue audition piece, then rehearsed until the big audition day arrived. After I performed my piece I felt satisfied and confident with my performance. There was no way I was not going to get the part!

When the director announced the final cast list, I was confused as to why I didn't get the female lead and was instead given the part of an extra with very masculine characteristics. I later found out that the director rejected my audition simply due to the fact that I was a lesbian. Because the female lead had a side romantic interest with the courageous hero of the story, she did not think I could pull off a normal convincing love affair with a man.

I was devastated that a word, a label, a simple adjective could affect me in such a negative way. To be hit in the gut so personally with prejudice in the one safe haven where I felt most comfortable was so painful, and to have my talent and opportunities overlooked in such a way was beyond disappointing and aggravating.

Equality and diversity are staples that make this nation so amazing. The controversial Arizona Legislature Senate Bill 1062 was a direct threat to many, including myself. SB 1062 stated that Arizona businesses, based on their religious backgrounds and beliefs, would have the right to deny services to anyone who is gay or suspected of being gay. This bill was not a protection of religion; it was a blanket for legal segregation that would distort and damage the soul and personality of others.

Going through these challenging experiences and the recent controversy of SB 1062 have helped me truly grasp the importance of equality. The nation has come a long way and has gotten much better about equality towards gay people, but there is still more progress to be made. I believe in equality, and I believe that every man, woman, daughter, sister, son, brother, husband, wife, cousin and friend deserve the same equal rights, benefits and opportunities that everyone should have. And I believe that in time and through persistence we can and will achieve this.

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