by Ashley Salas

Let’s talk equality. Equality does not only refer to equal pay or equal political and social rights, but rather its a broader aspect that includes a representation for and of all human rights, whether you’re gay, straight, hispanic, black, blue, or green. We’re in the year 2018 and sexual equality is still one of the most controversial topics being discussed around the world. Whether you believe it’s religiously immoral or not or whether you believe you were genetically born with it or believe it’s a “nature vs. nurture” type of situation, the idea of homophobia is a thing. A real thing.

Earlier this month, an advertisement circulated around the city’s social media platforms, bringing up the question, “Can Homosexuals (LGBTQ) change?” A local church hosted a function that promised homosexuals a chance to “change” with “God’s love and power” by following a fourteen-step journey that ultimately leads to the cure: heterosexuality. Laredo’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community, alongside Texas A&M International University’s Campus Ally Network and support programs such as Equality Texas, LULAC Council 12, Laredo BorderSlam Poetry and Laredo’s Sisters of Mercy counter-rallied and instead of resorting to protest in a violent way, they opted to love only to celebrate life. They took the opportunity to begin an open conversation, answer any doubts, and open their arms to anyone who just needed a big warm hug. The question is, “Why can’t people let other individuals be and embrace who they truly believe they are?” Who decided that the color blue, football, and cool cars were things that defined the male and the color pink, makeup, and barbies were things that defined the female. Maybe the reason why there’s denial of this group is because people are afraid or not a fan of any sort of change. People fear the “different” and “abnormality.” However, there’s a reality to accept: love is love and others’ mindsets have evolved. In fact, Laredo has evolved.

With a room full of about 100 attendees and mother monster Lady Gaga blasting from the speakers, from drag queens to Catholic sisters to politicians to poets, it was all bursting with love and acceptance, hoping the exchange of thoughts sparked a foundation of support for everyone. Testimonies floated out of people who took the stage, many of which have suffered loss of friends due to suicide, rejection because of their family’s strong morals, and discrimination by civilians. Tears of each kind were shed, each holding a dear memory of a story of a man who was beat to death in the 90s but was never on the news, or the sick dying man who believed he wouldn’t see his god because of his sexual preference, or the young man whose only wish was to save lives but was denied the opportunity to donate blood because he was gay. Nevertheless, the night ended with a room of nothing but positive energy and love, and rainbow colored feather scarves and a fabulous drag show. So here’s some food for thought, like some magical person in the audience said: “be whatever color you want to be because the world is not black and white.”

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