Melissa Carter: Chill pill anyone?

The results showed those that took Propranolol appeared less racist on a subconscious level.  Scientists told London’s The Telegraph they believe the drug lowered feelings of bias, because it works on parts of the brain and nervous system that regulate fear and emotional responses.

I’m not sure what these scientists assume we’ll do with this new information. Everyone take a pill to get along better? I’m sure the makers of Propranolol would be extremely happy with that financial scenario.

How would this translate into curing sexuality bias?   Would gay Johnny, whose family is constantly informing him of his path to hell, slip Mom and Dad the pill in their food? Lesbian Nancy, whose office life is a constant battle of jabs and negative comments, might be able to dump the medication into the break room coffee maker.  However, I don’t think suppressing part of someone’s brain to get them more comfortable around me is the answer. 

In an age of quick fixes, I am not surprised someone came up with this.  We take a pill for the smallest of discomforts, to lose weight, or to focus our mind. So why not develop a pill so people will like us more?

I think the solution is the same now as it has been throughout history:  knowledge.  Fear and anxiety are fed by the unknown, but being well-informed on any issue brings confidence.  A pill is not going to fix the inability to accept differences in our society, but knowledge can.  Many straight people say they didn’t like gay people until they got to know someone who is gay.  We are all responsible to make sure that other people are more knowledgeable about whom we are and that we are more knowledgeable as well.

One example of how knowledge can change lives for the better comes out of Boston, where a local PR firm is attempting to help businesses motivate their female employees by teaching them about their foremothers.  The agency, History Smiths, says the more women find out about their successful foremothers, the more they are motivated to go further in their personal and professional lives.  They say as far as businesses go, incorporating women’s history into their own promotions will attract more customers, male and female.

There needs to be more messages about the positive contributions of gays and lesbians in our culture, or even just the sense of happiness in the gay community.  I sent a message on Twitter the other week that simply said how happy I was to be a lesbian and that I wouldn’t change anything in my life.  The biggest response was from straight people letting me know how that comment was a breath of fresh air for them.  What knowledge are we teaching those whose support we strive for? That being gay means having power and success, or that we are constantly struggling and unhappy?

Yes, a pill might be a quick fix for some, but for me taking the time to educate my world on who I am will result in far bigger benefits.

Melissa Carter is also a writer for Huffington Post. She broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in Atlanta and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter