Hello blog readers!
I want to tell you about a phenomenal outpouring of love and acceptance I witnessed on September 3, 2011 in Ulaanbaatar.
Needless to say, I am a huge proponent of human rights across the world. I truly believe that everyone is created equally and that we all have rights as human beings on this planet. LGBT issues are very close to my heart. Growing up in Nebraska, I had many people telling me that being gay, or different for that matter, was wrong and it didn't make me normal. I could care less about being normal. I remember witnessing the election of November 2000 when Nebraska voted to amend its constitution to prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriages. It broke my heart and I lost hope. I couldn't understand why people could be so angry at someone for wanting to love and be loved regardless of their sexual orientation. I am very fortunate to come from family that shows me endless love, tolerance and gave me the ambition to succeed in life no matter who I am. Their love and support allowed me to join the Peace Corps.
I brought with me, to Mongolia, my passion for human rights. I knew that LGBT rights were still emerging in this country. It was only in 2002 that homosexuality was decriminalized. On September 3, I attended an event hosted by the LGBT Centre in Ulaanbaatar. It was called "Mr. Beauty 2011" and it was a drag queen competition. I went with some friends to this small bar that was off the beaten path. I didn't expect to see many people there. I was SHOCKED when I entered! There must have been around 250-300 people there. The night started with the contestants coming out wearing traditional women's Mongolian clothes. They were absolutely gorgeous! The other portions of the competition were swimsuit wear, formal wear and then came time for the question. Unfortunately, my Mongolian wasn't good enough to understand what was being said. My guess is that each question and answer dealt with LGBT issues in Mongolia.
Seeing 300 people at an LGBT event was fantastic. Watching them be unafraid of who they are for four hours gave me immense hope. People could be who they were regardless if they were gay, lesbian , bisexual, transgender or straight. Seeing their love and happiness rejuvenated my mission for equality. I was speaking with a Mongolian man at the event who said this about homosexuality in Mongolia:
"This is just a normal part of human existence." He summed it up so well and he wants to take that message across Mongolia.
As an American, it would be so easy for me to approach this with a typical go-get-'em attitude but I know it will not work in Mongolia. They will do it their way and on their time. All I can do is offer support and advice as best I can.
Here is a link for the Mongolian LGBT Centre. They are working so hard to promote LGBT rights across this nation. They have come a long way by simply becoming a recognized NGO. This youtube video chronicles their mission and the path they took to become a nationally recognized NGO.
This is a serious post but one that is very close to my heart.
In love and acceptance,