Repeat after Me: We Are Different–We Are the Same


“It is as if people cannot feel they exist except by affirming, with a shudder, that they are different from something that they are against.”

The substance of my talk is expressed in its title. As I prepared my notesI realized I was having difficulty because everything I wanted to say has been articulated in such a variety of ways in our history. Long before the RainbowCoalition took shape during the last presidential election, it was evident that diversity is a strength we need to explore rather than deny. The groups that have poured themselves into the foundation of American society had different views of what that society can and should be. This abundance of perspective sought to help us formulate solutions to society’s problems; instead, it causes destructive frictions. That we are always struggling with stereotypes is not anew idea. Nor is the concept unfamiliar that these sometimes subtle and un-dramatic battles are the substance of true social change.

An additional problem with this presentation is that it is delivered to a group that is already, for the most part, converted. Those of you who came to hear what I have to say are probably already thinking about these issues.Those who most need to hear my remarks are probably not here. They are not interested in the varied experiences of lesbians and gay men. They are not concerned with the issues of race and class -how they make us different, how they make us the same. Since they are not here, I ask you to be responsible for communicating these issues to those who ought to hear them.

Suggested Reading

This is an excerpt from Kenji Yoshino’s new book, Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial. In his book, Professor Yoshino explores the Hollingsworth v. Perry trial, which he calls “one of the most powerful civil rights trials in American history.” Professor Yoshino

 State Laws Argued in Federal Court Shahar v. Bowers, 114 F.3d 1097 (11th Cir. 1997):  The Plaintiff, Ms. Robin Shahar has received a job offer from the Georgia Attorney General’s office.  When the Attorney General learned of Ms. Shahar plans