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  • Emerging Ally

Math ... and Relationships

So I am a math geek. Yes I was the kid who sat in the front row of math class. You know the one with the glasses. The skinny geeky kid. I am not good at much but I like math. I find it fun. I know that makes me odd. But true.

I don’t know if its a consequence of that but I hate when things don’t make sense from a math standpoint. When news agencies add numbers wrong it drives me nuts… Does anyone in the entire news room have a calculator?! … And when people make statements that are just simply impossible makes me crazy.

And sometimes this mathematical OCD enters into everyday conversation.

I don’t know about you but I have heard the phrase “I don’t know anyone that’s gay” more than once.

Seriously. Not kidding.

Do you have any idea how completely inane that is? It is simply impossible.

My response is always “Yes you do!”

Among all the people you know? Friends? Family? Co-workers? Your kid’s friends? Their family? That clerk at the grocery store you have gotten to know over the years? That neighbor with the dogs? … etc….

But how am I confident? Math! That’s how.

The Movement Advancement Project (MAP) has put together surveys across all 50 states and the District of Columbia on the LGBTQ+ population in the US. States range from 2.7% (North Dakota) to 5.7% (Oregon) of people who responded to the survey that they were LGBTQ+.

Now 2.7% does not seem that high. But across everyone you know? According to historical studies a person's social network is around 150 people - although some more recent studies have estimated it is around 600. That is people you know. Friends. Family. Co-workers. Your kid’s friends. Their family. That clerk at the grocery store you have gotten to know over the years. The barista you've gotten to know so well you know where they are going to school. The folks at the gym. And yes that neighbor with the dogs… etc….

So the probability that NONE of those people could be LGBTQ+ is microscopic. Using 2.7% (i.e. North Dakota), at best it is 1.6%. That's assuming you only know 150 people. If you know 200 people that quickly drops to 0.4%. And if you know 600 people as more recent studies suggest.... the chance of you not knowing anyone who is LGBTQ+ is 0.000007%. Seriously.

And that's using the LOWEST number from that survey.

So it is improbable at best.

What this means is that no one has told them. They have created such an adverse environment around them that no one wants to tell them. So when they talk about or think about issues that impact the LGBTQ+ community they are talking about someone in their mind they don’t know. Someone faceless.

Marriage equality. Freedom from discrimination at work. Military service. etc..

There are a lot of issues that directly impact the LGBTQ+ community. As you think about these issues try to remember the people impacted by these issues are your friends. Family. Co-workers. Your kid’s friends. Their family. That clerk at the grocery store you have gotten to know over the years. That neighbor with the dogs… etc….

They are impacted. People you know. Imagine them the next time you engage in a conversation on LGBTQ+ rights. Imagine them standing in front of you as you say they should not marry. That it’s OK they can be fired for being gay. Or evicted from their apartment. These things happen. Only a few states have any protections. Imagine them standing there.

If we all thought about these issues impacting those we know and care about we might talk about them differently.

As always I hope this helps. I look forward to continuing the conversation. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

All the best,

Dave Terné

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