It has been quite a week. For me personally and our country as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in both the Prop 8 and DOMA cases. (You can read my report from DC here) Oh yeah and it is Passover and Holy Week, too.
And then there was the big surprise.
Human Rights Campaign changed their typically blue and yellow logo to red in support of marriage equality and the image went viral. On Wednesday I read a report that said the image was shared at least 43,000 times. (See and read an analysis on the HRC site of the change)
Personally this sea of red was incredibly moving to me. In the process of coming out to myself I made LOTS of false assumptions about how people might respond. I was scared and felt alone. Once I completed the most difficult task, coming out to myself, and then shared the information with my family and friends I was only welcomed with acceptance and love. I have not lost one friend or significant relationship with anyone I care about because I am a lesbian. I remember the tear-filled coming out conversation with MY SISTER when she said something like, “I’ve known you were a lesbian since you were 15.” To which I responded in hysterical tears, “Why didn’t you tell me! It would have been so much easier!” Even as I type those words I can hear her laughter at how ridiculous that was. Coming out was my own journey, my own process. Not one that anyone could speed up or slow down.
I wonder what it must feel like to the person still in the closet to see their friends and family, allies and LGBT, affirming that they are supportive in a subtle yet very public way. I assure you, that red symbol made a difference.
My colleague, Rabbi Mark Kaiserman, wrote this on his Facebook wall about why the sea of red matters:
Why changing the profile photo does matter.
As your timeline filled with notes about people changing their profile photo to red squares with 2 stripes (including the matzah and Yoda), many scoffed. “Why does it matter? Is the Supreme Court checking Facebook?
But it does matter.
The arguments for equality in marriage are at this exciting moment of possibility because public opinion has changed. When DOMA was signed, only 25% of Americans supported legal same sex marriage. Now it is more the 50%.
If you are seeing the flood of profile changes, it reinforces that your Fb friends are pro-equality and freedom. It helps influence those still on the fence. And it shows incredible support and solidarity with every GLBT individual and couple currently denied the right to marry by the Federal government.
This is a the same show of unity that you find going to a sports event with everyone in the same color, or a breast cancer walk with everyone in pink, or even people wearing green for St. Patrick Day. You can still support the cause without the “colors”. But this is a way to show it electronically. It is our digital community coming together for freedom and I am grateful to every person who has made the temporary switch.
I couldn’t agree more.
So though changing a profile picture to red might just be passive activism it does make a difference. And because I’m the Executive Director of an organization that is trying to make a difference EVERY DAY, if you want to move from passive to active support, here is a link to California Faith for Equality’s site where your secure, tax-deductible contribution will make a big difference.
Thank you for making a difference.