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This LGBT Pride, Let’s Celebrate Difference Not Sameness

Equality of rights is critical, but diversity of pathways must also be honored. (Photo: Sharon Mattheson-McCutcheon/flickr/cc)

It’s hard to imagine an American poet more celebrated than four-time Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Frost whose most famous poem concludes:

"Two roads diverged in a wood and I —I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."

When the most celebrated poet’s most well-known lines praise difference why is it that we’re so scared of it?

Maybe we need more poets. That’s what John F Kennedy said just weeks before his death, at the groundbreaking of the Robert Frost Library at Amherst College. It was soon after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Cold War was raging on, ten million Americans needed jobs, America needed strength, said Kennedy, but strength he said, “takes many forms, and the most obvious forms are not always the most significant.”


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The men who create power make an indispensable contribution to the Nation's greatness, the President continued, "but the men who question power make a contribution just as indispensable… for they determine whether we use power or power uses us."

Music and poetry and the arts push us, said Kennedy. "When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence."

That was half a century ago. Today we have entire months supposedly dedicated to “diversity”, including this one, June, LGBTQI Pride Month.

Except mostly, we don’t celebrate diversity, we celebrate sameness. We honor all the progress that we lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans Americans have made, becoming "accepted" as, well, just like everybody else.

Now I’m all for everyone enjoying the same rights in these United States. I support that – on-going - project. But I’d like to celebrate something else too: roads less travelled. Especially the roads less travelled that LGBTQI people take daily, opening up the possibilities for everybody.

The same old roads will take us to the same old destinations. It’s divergence, as the straight, white poet once wrote, that makes all the difference.

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders interviews forward-thinking people about the key questions of our time on The Laura Flanders Show, a nationally syndicated radio and television program also available as a podcast. A contributing writer to The Nation, Flanders is also the author of six books, including The New York Times best-seller, BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species.  She is the recipient of a 2019 Izzy Award for excellence in independent journalism, the Pat Mitchell Lifetime Achievement Award for advancing women’s and girls’ visibility in media and a 2020 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship for her reporting and advocacy for public media.

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