Today's Washington Blade had one of the most irrational op-eds I have ever witnessed. It was an outrageous and incoherent attack on GLBT marriage by Monica Helms, that was more befitting of former Sen. Jesse Helms. The simplistic logic is best displayed with this juvenile gem:
"People can live without marriage, but not without food. How much simpler can it get?"
So, gay people should be without the most basic of rights (that even prisoners on death row have) until every person has a loaf of bread? Interestingly, Helms expects such sacrifice only from GLBT people and does not call on heterosexuals to give up their marriages to the alter of the utopian pipe dream.
I believe this is a symptom of deep self-loathing in the guise of altruism. Some gay people have been beaten down so much and made to feel so unworthy, that they have a difficult time grabbing onto the mantle of equality. Instead, they put themselves at the back of the line and fight for everyone else. "Here, take your loaf of bread," they say, "for I am only worthy of the breadcrumbs."
Helms also engages in demagoguery, accusing GLBT people who want to protect their families though marriage of killing their brothers and sisters.
"While same-sex marriage may take several decades to be fully accepted throughout this country, our people will continue to die everyday because the rich gay Americans focus their efforts elsewhere. A piece of paper called a marriage certificate has become more important than the lives of this community."
This is patently absurd. The single greatest way to save the lives of future generations of GLBT people is to gain access to marriage. This will allow our children to grow up in a society where they are fully equal, leading to a dramatic rise in self-esteem and self-worth - and a drop in depression and suicide. Furthermore, this "piece of paper" is not an empty document and comes with thousands of rights needed to protect families.
Instead of addressing the substance of our ills by eliminating state sanctioned discrimination - Helms and the "Breadcrumb Movement" would rather us perpetually focus on treating the symptoms of this inequality. Sorry, but I make no apologies for my desire to shed centuries of second-class citizenship.
Finally, it was wrong for Helms to take a divisive cheap shot at gay white men over the marriage issue.
"For the most part on the pro-gay marriage side, the debate is being blindly driven by rich, white gay men with the biggest bully pulpits in the GLBT community, along with gay politicians and gay advocacy organizations."
Last time I checked our movement wasn't fighting for "white gay marriage," and that people of all races would be able to share in this freedom. The fight for the freedom to marry is comprised of Americans of all races, ethnicities, religions and creeds. To suggest that this a Caucasian struggle is false and not supported by the facts.
Marriage is as important to GLBT people as it is to any other group in our nation. While the "Breadcrumb Crowd" prefers a "high-minded" surrender of equality - I will continue to fight for fairness. Our movement should work to end all laws where there is a "gay exception." Only by gaining full equality will we end much of the collateral damage that occurs as a result of such dangerous indignities.
But Wayne, her column does have a point. We need to be as proactive on all of our issues and not just marriage. In this fight for marriage equality, other important issues of our community is taking an unnecessary backseat. Also, while all gay people can benefit from the fight for marriage equality, the question has to be who is at the point where they are able to benefit, economically and spiritually. You see this with lgbts of color. In that community, marriage equality is not the main issue; HIV education and being able to be comfortable with their orientation seems to be the main issue. The fight for marriage equality has exposed problems in our community regarding economics, who has power in terms of setting the agenda for our community, and who has access to requisite media it requires to be spokespeople and role models. For all intensive purposes, it is too homogenized.
posted by Anonymous, at
8/18/2006 12:30 PM
Our community is small and limited. We can't handle the burden of gaining full economic justice for everyone, while we do have the ability to win equal rights. Let's stick to the politics of the possible, so everyone will benefit.
Finally, just because people are fighting for marriage does not mean that other issues are ignored. Is there evidence that before marriage these issues were on the verge of achieving their goals? I don't think so. Marriage is just a convienient punching bag.
posted by Wayne Besen, at
8/18/2006 12:51 PM
I would have to agree with Wayne. Just like everything else, a person can only focus on what hits closest to home. For me, it is marriage. Does that mean that I am rich and white? No, well, I may be white, but I'm far from rich. If people want to be heard, they need to stand up. And if standing up does not work, they need to climb the tallest tree, and so on until they are heard. People worried about marriage cannot be blamed for the lack of HIV education. People worried about marriage cannot be blamed because someone is afraid to come out, or cannot come out. It's preposterous to say what we need to work on first, or second, or third. Then there would really be a so-called agenda that all the breeders think we have, and I am still waiting to be filled in on. Anonymous, I'm not trying to be rude here, so please do not take it as such. I'm just saying that my worries aren't always your worries. Does that make mine are more substantial than yours? Of course not. But they are important to me and my family.
posted by Jeromie Brann-Hurt, at
8/18/2006 12:54 PM
I have to disagree with you here. As a queer person of color, I can understand the author's sentiment regarding the notion that the gay marriage movement is run by white gay men who are insensitive to the needs of other queer people, particularly queer people of color and those queers who exist on the margins of our economy.
While this is certainly not true of ALL gay white men, my experience (such as it is) has been that this seems to be the case more often than not.
Case in point: The problem with racism at the bar Badlands in San Francisco's Castro district (read up on it at http://www.isbadlandsbad.com/) I was living in SF when all of this hit the fan. Despite the fact that the owner of Badlands was repeatedly found guilty of overtly racist employment practices and disparate treatment of black patrons, the gay community did not get up at arms about this. The boycott was ineffective because the local white gay boys valued their cocktails over the rights of queer people of color. It was really disgusting to me that our so-called "community" couldn't rally around this issue, particularly in a place like SF.
While you may disagree with the viewpoints of those queer people who do not share your views on the necessity of gay marriage, I hope that you will listen a little more closely to what they have to say. To completely dismiss their experience demonstrates a profound lack of sensitivity. Marriage is not just a convenient punching bag. The way the gay marriage movement is being conducted in some quarters serves as a reminder to many queer people that they are not perceived as equals in the queer community.
I'm not asking you to change your views here. I just think that the way you've responded to this issue will only serve as proof to many of the anti-marriage queer folks that they are on the right track.
posted by Peter, at
8/18/2006 2:12 PM
I am a GAY person of color, and I am in 100% agreement with Wayne. I take exception to the idea that other issues have been ignored because of the push for marriage equality. There is no evidence of that. People are working hard on the issues that matter most to them, whether it be marriage, safe schools, immigration equality, open military service, or employment discrimination protection. On the contrary, I think marriage equality has given the entire Gay Rights struggle a higher profile. It has also drawn a lot of young allies to our cause, because the right to be with the person you choose is a basic right folks across the board can understand. They might not be able to wrap their minds around why we'd want to be swallowed up in the military industrial complex, but they can relate to the desire to marry.
I also take exception to this idea that "Rich White Gay Men" are responsible for moving marriage equality to the fore of public debate. Preposterous! It was LESBIAN couples, as well as a few brave male couples who lit a fire under this issue; it really was a grass roots movement. The "Rich Gay White Men" at the national Gay advocacy organizations were dragged into this fight kicking and screaming! To them, marriage wasn't achievable. Their attitude was far less like Evan Wolfson's than it was like Monica Helms's. She's dumping on people who, in the beginning, felt an awful lot like she feels. Ms. Helms and those BeyondMarriage people think our core issues should be secondary to everything else on the progressive agenda; they arrogantly declare that Lesbians and Gay men don't really "need" this right. That argument drives me crazy! Ditto for the argument that their vast myriad of goals (which includes mass acceptance of polygamy) will be easier to achieve than marriage equality. It holds no water at all. Wayne hit the nail on the head: Self-hatred is the name of this game.
posted by Stuffed Animal, at
8/18/2006 3:59 PM
First, no one is fighting for "gay marriage".
People are fighting for equality. And the fight for marriage equality is just one battlefield in this war.
To suggest that giving up this front in the battle for our lives and freedoms won't have impact on hate crimes or employment discrimination or any of the other issues of equality we are fighting for shows amazing ignorance. We need to stop seeing this as a bunch of separate issues and realize that it's all one issue. Do we or do we not support equality?
Second, it isn't "rich, white gay men" that will benefit most from marriage. They have the resources to allow for living wills, healthcare provisions, asset planning and tax strategies. It is the pair of poor Latina lesbians raising three kids in a two bedroom apartment that desperately need the protections that marriage provides. They don't have the extra money to hire an attorney to draft the documents that would allow one to visit the other in the hospital or even pick up their kids at school.
Third, Helm's rant smacks of entitlement and arrogance. She seems to think that the people putting time, money, and energy into fighting for marriage equality should drop what is dear to their heart and do what she wants instead. If you aren't fighting for the rights that she wants you to fight for, then she thinks that you are taking resources that are rightfully hers. She doesn't recognize that she has no claim on anyone's time or money and that if they stopped supporting marriage equality tomorrow, it doesn't mean they would then automatically support her causes, however noble they may be.
Finally, Helm's argument is based on selfishness. Because she ranks marriage as "far below deciding on what deodorant to buy", those who need it desperately are to be ignored and derided.
I support Helms in her employment protection, HIV/AIDS research, hate crimes legislation, domestic partner benefits, insurance issues and adoption protection efforts. Ironically, so do most of the large gay groups she so despises. It's a pity she's so narrow minded that she can't support others' efforts to protect their own family through marriage.
posted by Timothy Kincaid, at
8/18/2006 4:35 PM
I was the one who posted the original anonymous point. For the record, I am a proud gay man of color who signed the beyond marriage petition. I did this because I felt that the issue of marriage equality was taking up a lot of our time and we must be reminded that it is only one issue. I am only speaking for my community and on the whole, marriage equality is not the number one issue of lgbts of color. HIV education, economics, and self esteem are the important issues. There is no use giving us the right to come the altar if many of us feel that we are not deserving of that right. When I said the issue of marriage equality exposed weaknesses in our community, i meant how this entire argument over marriage equality was fought. The religious right was able to infiltrate the black churches. However, we were not able to utilize the voices of lgbts of color to combat this because the leaders in our community had not taken an adequate look at the issues and visibility of lgbts of color. Statements by John Lewis and Coretta Scott King just won't cut it. Wayne said our community can't handle the burden of gaining economic justice for everyone. Unfortunately the marriage equality struggle has highlighted how that line of thinking can come back to haunt us. Many of us lgbts of color do feel that while marriage equality is an important issue, it is also another issue of the bourgeoise gay power structure setting the tone of our community without including a place at the table for us. In this fight for marriage equality, some of us are being left behind and that is not right. That is all I am saying.
posted by Anonymous, at
8/18/2006 4:57 PM
Many a time I have known racism to exist in the gay community. A hispanic persian lesbian made references to filipinos and blacks in very derogatory terms. And her comment when challenged about her minority status was that she was really white (her father is white) and that "there aren't that many of those kind that are gay anyways'. Wow- was I surprised by the need for representation.
posted by Anonymous, at
8/18/2006 5:08 PM
The division that exists on the gay marriage issue among queer people should serve as a wake up call to all of us that our community is not exclusively comprised of urban queers with a penchant for sipping cocktails who live in gentrifying, fashionable neighborhoods. One of the major factors that differentiates the queer movement for equality from the African American civil rights movement is the socioeconomic diversity of the queer community. At the time of the civil rights movement, the overwhelming majority of black people shared socioeconomic grievances that were intertwined with concerns about racism. The unity required for the relentless activism necessary to achieve equality (at least on paper) was much easier to achieve.
The queer "community" includes rich white gay men, poor Vietnamese lesbians, affluent black transgender people, etc...The list could go on forever. For the average homeless queer person, the fight for affordable housing easily trumps the fight for gay marriage. For those gay couples who subsist on low wage jobs that don't provide benefits, universal (or at least affordable) health care is a much more pressing issue. After all, who gives a flying fuck about inheritance rights when you have absolutely nothing to pass on when you die?
The fact that both David Geffen and I like to suck cock does not mean we have the same list of priorities when it comes to improving our lives. To refer to some queer people as "self-loathing" simply because they aren't enthralled with the idea of participating in a fucked up insitution which will do very little to improve their overall quality of life is revolting, as far as I'm concerned.
A number of years ago, there was a huge controversy in the Castro district regarding the construction of a shelter for homeless queer youth. The wealthy property owners in the Castro ( who were at least 90% white, which is astounding given the city's racial diversity) started caterwauling in a community meeting about their precious property values. They fought tooth and nail to prevent the construction of a shelter for homeless gay youth in the Castro district in San Francisco.
I am gay and white and I think that the marriage equality issue has subsumed all other gay rights/progressive issues in our GLBT politics and in the minds of the US population. Do we share any responsibility for putting Mr. Bush in the Whitehouse for a second term? Yes, yes, I know that we cannot back off on fighting for our rights because people are misinformed/stupid. However, we need to be politic about our priorities.
posted by Dave, at
8/18/2006 5:33 PM
The "queer community" does not include me in any way, shape or form. I am a Black man of homosexual orientation. Nobody will ever get away with calling me or my aspirations "queer." I'm sure as Hell more mainstream than Pat Robertson, James Dobson and that bunch. That's MY definition of queer. I strongly suspect these people who advance a "queer" agenda have no true interest in equality for ordinary Lesbians and Gay men. They're off into some Eldridge Cleaver-style radical fantasy with unachievable goals, the futile pursuit of which will do nothing but preserve the outsider status of LGBT Americans. And that's exactly what they want. They groove on that outsider status and loathe anything that even remotely suggests mainstream values. Well, maybe "queers" feel like that, but I think most of the rest of us don't! I ain't about playing the revolutionary and shaking my fist in the Establishment's face just for the thrill. Later for the posturing and pontification of radical politics! I want a place at the table that's already been set. It's time to separate the men from the boys. Those who want to spend time on radical issues need to go their way, and those who want to pursue mainstream equality need to go another way. And they need to stay out of each other's way. Clearly, there are two different movements, and they have very different goals.
posted by Stuffed Animal, at
8/18/2006 6:04 PM
Wow, stuffed animal! Talk about self-loathing! I hate to break it to you, but as far as most "mainstream" Americans are concerned, you are nothing but a faggot whose life is cheap. Ever been to Mississippi? If you honestly think that achieving the right to marry is going to change your status as a faggot in the eyes of your beloved "mainstream", you are delusional. You may think of yourself as being more mainstream than Pat Robertson and James Dobson, but if you took a moment to examine the reality of American attitudes towards queers (like you) you'd see that Dobson and Robertson are unfortunately much more in line with mainstream thought. In the eyes of most Americans you are nothing but a queer (just like me). This has nothing to do with "reveling in outsider status". It is reality. I don't care how "straight-acting" or mainstream you think you are, most Americans view you as being identical to a transgendered woman with HIV. It's unfortunate that you've allowed internalized homophobia to make you feel like you have to cowardly pursue acceptance in the "mainstream" at all costs. I hate to break it to you girlfriend, but the only way you'll ever live within the boundaries of the mainstream is in your mind. Like it or not, you ARE an outsider. Get used to it.
I'm latino and my partner is Vietnamese. We both grew up desperately poor, and although we've been fortunate enough to claw our way up to the middle class, we still have family members who haven't been so lucky. While gay marriage might benefit US, I am more concerned with my parents receiving adequate health care. I hardly think that makes me a wild-eyed radical who pursues unattainable goals. If you think achieving universal healthcare is less realistic than than the legalization of gay marriage, you are out of your fucking mind.
But hey, enjoy your "place at the table". Who gives a shit about anyone else, right? You sound like a Republican. You should consider joining the Republican party, if you haven't already. That would go a long way in helping you achieve mainstream-realness.
posted by Peter, at
8/18/2006 6:54 PM
"In the eyes of most Americans you are nothing but a queer."
Would that me the same "most Americans" that in polls taken this year approve of civil unions (and only just a bare majority of which [51%] oppose gay marriage)?
Perhaps this is the "most Americans" that oppose Don't Ask Don't Tell by huge percentages?
Or the same "most Americans" who believe that homosexuality is innate, that believe it is "acceptable", that believe that gays should be protected in employment and housing.
Or maybe you just mean the most Americans that are running the Fortune 500, nearly all of which have non-discrimination policies and offer domestic partnership healthcare.
I think you may be living in the past. Our struggle is far from over. But if we abandon our successes and our hopes for the future to focus solely on the remaining social problems for your parents, our community will never achieve equality.
I commend you on caring about your parents health insurance. But without any ill feelings to your parents, I won't be giving up my quest for marriage equality because of them.
posted by Timothy Kincaid, at
8/18/2006 8:15 PM
Eight years ago, before I met my partner, Marriage was not an issue that meant anything to me. I wanted only to live my life and avoid getting beat up in the process. Things have changed greatly, now. I fell in love with a man who had a daughter and I suddenly found myself in a totally new mind-set. It isn't about the piece of paper. It isn't even about the tax write-offs. It's about standing up and saying, "This is my family and we are just as relevent as you." I don't want to have to carry a letter from Scott in my pocket so I can make medical decisions for our kids if necessary. I don't want to have to argue with the nurse at the window because the girls are not "mine" and I have no legal right to them. And if, God forbid, Scott up and dies on me, I don't want to have to fight for my children because I have no legal rights to them.
Marriage may not be an important issue to some of you at this point in your lives. Sometime down the road, however, you may find yourself in my shoes.
I understand there are many social issues that we face in this world, but issues such as healthcare, poverty, social security...these are issues that all americans are confronted with. Marriage equality is an issue that only GLBT Americans are confronted with. Marriage equality should be fought for, along with equal housing, job non-descrimination, hate crime legislation and the like. These are all issues that affect the non-straight population. I am a freelance writer so job discrimination means nothing to me. I own my little house, so housing discrimination means nothing to me. That does not mean that I will not fight for these issues. Because if it affects even one of us, it should affect us all.
I can hear the anger in some of these posts and I understand the anger. But we need to take that anger and channel it into something positive. The non-straight community is so diverse, of course we will not agree on everything. But we must not fight amoung ourselves. That is entirely counter productive. We are all on the same team. We are all fighting for equal rights.
I will take on your fight, whether the issues affect me or not. I'm not asking you to take on my fight. I'm simply asking that you not stand in the way.
posted by jekelhyde, at
8/18/2006 10:03 PM
I am not asking you to give up your fight for marriage equality for my parents. What I AM asking for, however, is the right to express my views on this issue without being thought of as "self-loathing" simply because YOUR right to get married is not MY top priority.
Also, more than 50% of Americans believe that gays and lesbians do not deserve the right to get married. Perhaps the other 50% claim to support gay marriage, but I can tell you with a great deal of certainty that in 95% of the areas in this country, you will be putting your life on the line if you decide to hold hands with your boyfriend in public. If you think I'm living in the past, please feel free to test that proposition by locking lips with your partner in public somewhere around Opelika, Alabama (or virtually anyplace that is NOT a gay ghetto).
I am not asking you to abandon your quest for gay marriage for my parents. I happen to support the quest for gay marriage. It just so happens that I view gay marriage as being a lot less important than many of the issues confronting the other groups to which I happen to belong.
When you are a white gay man, it is a lot easier to think of being gay as your master status. When you are a queer person of color who grew up in poverty, there are a lot of other issues that seem a bit more pressing than the struggle for gay marriage.
As someone who has experienced homelessness for coming out as a teen, as someone who was expelled from a conservative college for refusing to hide his sexual orientation, as someone who was forced into reparative therapy without backing down, as someone who has been repeatedly physically assualted for the crime of being openly gay, I challenge ANYONE to make the case that I am self-loathing simply becauseI feel more connected to my ethnic group and my socioeconomic background than to white circuit boys with meth habits.
posted by Peter, at
8/18/2006 11:02 PM
Somehow I doubt marriage is a high priority for white circuit boys with meth habits.
posted by Boo, at
8/19/2006 8:48 AM
I agree with your comments Wayne -- I found the op-ed piece to be maddening.
I guess I should preface all that by saying that I'm white, over 40, well-paid, openly gay and single.
What a lot of people seem to be missing here is that while the marriage equality movement has -- organically, I might add -- moved to the forefront, it has also transformed the playing field.
Employment non-discrimination for LGBT people is becoming a reality -- and one reason for that is that the goal line for equality has been moved. Your company is a laggard if it hasn't adopted an LGBT non-discrimination policy... or begun offering domestic partner benefits.
Look at the explosion in the number of companies that now include gender identity in their policies. (I happen to be one of those rich white gays that made it happen at my company... didn't have to... could have just let things drift.)
I will say this, however, everyone approaches the LGBT equality movement from their own perspective -- and the consequences of that experience drive some of these differences. I don't have the history of a person of color -- so my approach to how to "solve the problem" draws on a different model... a model that may be as foreign to someone from the "traditional" civil rights movement as their model is to me.
posted by Mike, at
8/19/2006 11:27 AM
OK, since everyone else is introducing themselves, I will also. I am a white, half jewish, gay man who lives in a little house by the Chesapeake Bay with a partner of 8 years, three kids, two dogs, a cat and a rabbit. My personal upbringing is probably very different from most anyone posting on this blog, but I've been blessed to have gotten insights from folks of all walks of life. I was raised in a communal house by hippie parents who met in the peace corp.
Every person who has posted here has valid points. Every person who has posted here has their own experiences to pull from. Peter, you made some excellent points about being more in tune with your racial and socioeconomic background than your gay status, although I thought the white circuit boys with meth habits was a jab that was out of line. It isn't neccessary to resort to stone throwing. But I and everyone else should understand the basic concept.
True, I have no concept of what it is to be a gay person of color, but I've seen the pain and the horror that can come with just being non-white: Add gay to that mix and the horror can double; triple even. But I'll say it again, we are all in this together. Your fight is my fight. But my first priority must be what immediately affects me and my family. Your first priority should be what affects you and your family. My only fear is that those thinking that marriage equality is not their primary issue will stand in the way of those of us who do think of marriage as the issue. And I am not referring to the posters on this blog. I am referring to the "Leaders" of the gay movement who would sell us up the river because marriage is not an issue that affects them. Because they have the money and the lawyers, they don't need equal protections. And because their voices are loud and out there, America presumes they are speaking for us all. And frankly, this speaks to all of us, whether we agree with marriage equality as a primary concern or not, we can't let the loudest voices announce to the world that what they say is what we all want them to say.
Lastly, any anonymous who claims that Wayne deletes all posts that don't agree with him needs to read this one. There are a ton of different points of view, some agree with him and some don't, but not a single deletion. Imagine that.
posted by jekelhyde, at
8/19/2006 12:08 PM
You’re a coward, Peter. You call me “queer” because you know you don’t have to face me online. How much bravado would you have if you did have to face me? You’d best believe that if we were face-to-face, I would deal with you like any other hater who insulted me. And that’s what you are: A HATER! A homophobe trapped in a Gay man’s body. You’re pitiful! You are sunk so deep in self-hatred, you don’t even know which way is up! Your whole thought process has been twisted. It’s obvious to me that the reason you call yourself “queer” is that you define yourself by what other people think about you (or what you THINK they think about you). When you finally grow up, maybe you’ll have the good sense not to look outside yourself for definitions of who you are.
You’re dead wrong about what defines mainstream America. Dobson and his ilk may get a majority of bigoted folk to turn out at the polls, but by no means does that represent the entire American population. In the mainstream, there’s room for people of all ethnic groups and sexual orientations. It is not an all-White, all-Straight, all-male and all-bigoted entity. Most of your fellow citizens are good people, fair people, and once they understand who and what LGBT status is, they will lose their fear of us and treat us like human beings. We just have to educate them. Obviously, some of us need to be educated, too. Your comments to me were so ignorant, I’m actually ashamed for you.
If you have no desire to be in the mainstream, that’s one thing, but don’t pretend the mainstream is inaccessible to you. That may have been true in the past, but it’s not true today. Lesbians and Gay Americans have advanced tremendously, just like Americans of color. We’re bettering our condition whether you acknowledge it or not, and we’re going to get better still. Don’t you DARE presume to place me on the margins of society because of my skin color and sexual orientation! I will not limit my aspirations and think less of myself just because you think I should.
Do you really believe that achieving marriage equality and universal health care is an either-or-game? Who told you that? Why would you believe it? Who says there’s a hierarchy of social issues that every Gay person is obligated to observe? Why should your priorities match my priorities? Am I supposed to be joined at the hip with you or something? I’m tired of backward-thinking folk like you accusing me of “abandoning their issues.” If you really took your issues seriously, you wouldn’t be so worried about what I’m doing. Nobody’s forcing your ass to support marriage equality! You need to pay less attention to my goals and concentrate on going after those goals that are of most importance to YOU. I feel sorry for you, though, because even after you achieve your goals (and I hope you do), you’ll still have an inferiority complex.
posted by Stuffed Animal, at
8/19/2006 1:21 PM
You said, "Why should your priorities match my priorities?"
That is my whole point here. As I said, I support gay marriage. It is just very low down on my list of priorities, and that happens to be the case for many queer people I know. I think it is wrong to label people like me as being "self-loathing" simply because we don't share your priorities. So I figured, what's good for the goose...
And just for the record, I am in a very long-term relationship. My partner and I just prefer to focus our activism on broader issues that affect not only us but the people we love as well. We have every right to make our voices heard when the self-appointed leaders of the gay movement incorrectly claim to be speaking on our behalf.
I don't have an "inferiority" complex. I just don't take the word "queer" as being an insult. I refuse to let it have that power over me. I embrace who I am without deluding myself into believing that the soccer moms of America see me as their equal. Unlike you, I neither NEED nor want their approval. Whether you like it or not, you aren't mainstream. The vast majority of America is not a liberal urban utopia. When one of the most prominent so-called liberal leaders of the democratic party makes a concerted effort to distance himself from the gay marriage movement, that should let you know where you stand.
Incidentally, I said nothing at all about your race.
"My only fear is that those thinking that marriage equality is not their primary issue will stand in the way of those of us who do think of marriage as the issue. And I am not referring to the posters on this blog. I am referring to the "Leaders" of the gay movement who would sell us up the river because marriage is not an issue that affects them."
The self-proclaimed leaders of the gay movement have made gay marriage their top priority. Are you trying to say that the most prominent groups like the HRC aren't focused on gay marriage as their #1 priority?
My only fear is that those thinking that marriage equality IS their primary issue will stand in the way of those of us who do not think of marriage as the most important issue affecting their lives. I am also concerned about the way the leaders of the gay movement so readily dismiss the views of the people they claim to represent.
posted by Peter, at
8/19/2006 2:39 PM
Here you come with your mixed-up thought process again. If the word "queer" has no power over you, why can't you let go of it? You have a need to identify with your oppressor, that's why, and you acted just like an oppressor when you called me a "queer" after I made it clear I didn't like it. Stop trying to pull me down to your comfort level. The more uncomfortable I make you, the better. I want you to see what you're missing, standing on the outside looking in. I don't need anyone's approval, I don't define myself by first determining how others define me, and I don't need to label myself with the hateful names bigots hurl at me. You can't presume to tell me what my standing in society is, because you don't even know what your own standing is. I have the kind of freedom from shame and confidence in myself you'll never have as long as you cling to that inferiority complex you so unconvincingly deny having. You're living in a box you've constructed for yourself and other Gay people who are foolish enough to join you, probably believing you're safer staying in there. You're not safe at all; in fact, you make a better target for the bigots. Let your mind step outside of those cramped living quarters, and find out how it feels living in the big, wide world as a whole person. I promise you, it beats living "queer" by a longshot.
posted by Stuffed Animal, at
8/19/2006 4:19 PM
I was actually referring to the signatories on a certain manifesto who claim that marriage is a dead issue and not necessary in the fight for equal rights. But I agree with you. Marriage is not high on your list of priorities you shouldn't be told that it must be. Just as I shouldn't be told that is mustn't be. And I actually don't consider the HRC to be leaders in the gay community. The HRC is an organization that is attempting to help. And they are listening to those who have the loudest voice. So marriage is not your fight. It's not that the organizations aren't listening to you, they just can't hear you. And the reason they cant hear you is because of the bigotry that exists within he gay community. And I'm not talking about racial or ethnic bigotry.
But you have to understand that most people can't see the world beyond their own backyards. You need to work to open their yards and give them a different view. Most of the people that I know would gladly help with any good cause, but they have to know it exists first.
This inner fighting needs to stop. We should be able to agree to disagree and we should be able to accept others viewpoints even if we don't agree with them. "I hear you. I see your point. I don't agree. Now lets move on." Because we all share one common trait. We are all non-hetero and we are all discriminated in some way or another because of it. In the fight for equality, that's what needs to end. If there weren't bigotry against GLBT people, Marriage, job and housing discrimination, hate-crime leglisation, etc. wouldn't be issues at all. What we collectively need to work toward is making gay issues obsolete. Can we at least agree on that??
posted by jekelhyde, at
8/19/2006 4:48 PM
As the previous poster said, I suppose we'll just have to agree to disagree. To me, there is no shame in the word queer. It merely means "unusual" or "different". If you prefer members of your own sex, you fall into that category. I prefer the word "queer" because it applies to all of us who are considered sexual minorities: gays, lesbians, bisexuals, trans people, etc.
The word queer has no power over me. YOU are the one who flipped out because someone used the word "queer", not me. If you think you are somehow safer by trying to make your queerness more tolerable to society at large by blending into what you consider to be the mainstream, then I feel sorry for you.
I refuse to hide my queerness behind a house, a white picket fence, and 2.5 kids. I reject the idea that the current holy trinity of the mainstream gay rights movement is the be all, end all of queer concerns: marriage, military service, and adoption. If you feel the need to be "straight-acting" to feel better about yourself, then go for it. However, I hope you'll keep in mind the fact that "acting" is the operative word there.
As far as your previous threats of violence are concerned, I'm quite impressed, Mary. I'm sure if you beat your chest hard enough and quote some baseball statistics, you can convince the other boys on the playground that you're mo different from them. In the meantime, I'm going to focus on living my life as an out and proud queer person.
posted by Peter, at
8/19/2006 5:57 PM
The name ain't "Mary", smart ass! Not once during this exchange have I addressed you with sarcasm, Peter, and I think that says a lot about character . . . and the lack of it. You know, if you make a habit of disrespecting people, you're going to get disrespect in return, and that's exactly what you deserve. But I'm not gonna be the one trading insults with you. I've got better things to do. We can agree to disagree on marriage equality; I hold no animosity toward you for having a different agenda. I just want you to understand that you're NOT going to change mine. Fare thee well. Go off on your merry way, playing the two-bit revolutionary with your middle finger waving in society's face. Just remember, you ain't the only one who's got fingers, and some of the other people who have fingers are in the habit of making fists with them. Payback can really be Hell! For your sake, I hope your feet are as fast as your mouth. Adios.
posted by Stuffed Animal, at
8/20/2006 4:52 PM
Adios, Ms. Stuffed Animal! Incidentally, I see you live in Kansas City. Goodness, Mary, you can't get much more mainstream than that! It turns out we don't live that far away from each other.
If you don't think referring to people who disagree with you as "self-loathing" constitutes waving your middle finger in their faces, then I guess I can see why your perception of reality is so warped. Call me crazy, but I interpret that as being more than just a little bit "disrespectful".
I have no desire to change your narrow little mind. However, I will not let people get away with calling me self-loathing simply because I disagree with their politics.
In closing, I think you need a little taste of your own medicine, since your statement is much more applicable to how you chose to insert yourself into this discussion:
"Just remember, you ain't the only one who's got fingers, and some of the other people who have fingers are in the habit of making fists with them. Payback can really be Hell! For your sake, I hope your feet are as fast as your mouth. Adios."
Anyone who'd like to know the true definition of "queer," along with its etymology, should check out the post titled "What About The Word "Queer"? (Part Two) on my blogsite, Christ, The Gay Martyr. Also, please follow the internal link to an important essay written by an acquaintance of mine, author Patricia Nell Warren.
I did not at any point say that you were self-loathing.
However, I do think that you are demonstrating that you identify as a victim. Let me give you a couple examples:
You seem to believe that holding hands puts one's life at risk in 95% of the country. I think that is extremely unlikely. Yes there are homophobic parts of the country but they are not 95%.
You seem to think that those who seek marriage equality are "standing in the way" of those who have other priorities. Yet no one has said that you should not pursue your priorities. But the converse is true - those who agree with you have said that we SHOULD abandon our efforts for marriage equality. They do seek to stand in our way. Yet in some convoluted logic, you think that those pursuing equality are the aggressors.
There's nothing particularly wrong with using the term "queer" if you are doing so as a form of inclusion of all non-hetero peoples. However, it appears to me (though I suppose I could be wrong) that you adopt this term because it fits with your identity as an outsider.
It's clear that you don't want to do with anything that heterosexuals have: white picket fences, kids, marriage, adoption, freedom to join military service. Your posts suggest that you look down on those whose lives too closely parallel those of straight folk.
And finally, your postings here don't appear to have anything that you are supporting, just the things that you oppose (or think have been given too much importance).
If I were to guess, I would say that you don't favor focus on marriage, military service, and adoption is because these are all issues that are about equality. Each of these issues seeks to allow gay people to live in a manner identical to straights. And I suspect that you find the notion of a life lived virtually the same a hetero person to be uncomfortable for you.
Also, you did do one thing that does point to self-loathing: you used a gay slur to insult another gay person. To call another gay person "Mary" (or faggot, or any other gay slur) as an insult is an indication that some part of you views being gay as "less than". Of course, this is not some absolute indicator of internalized homophobia, but it should make one question oneself.
posted by Timothy Kincaid, at
8/21/2006 4:06 PM
Maybe somebody could explain why I should give a rat's ass about racism when every rich black preacher in the US wants to deny me equal rights under the law.
posted by Tom, at
8/22/2006 9:56 AM
You are confusing the individuals with the establishment, which is dangerously small thinking.
posted by jekelhyde, at
8/22/2006 1:13 PM
It is interesting to see this long string of comments on my Op-Ed piece and the comment by Wayne Besen. It seems I did my job in stirring up the pot on this and not only making people angry, but making them think. Would my piece have been so talked about if I sugar-coated my feelings? Not quite. As a published author, it is always nice to see my work evoke emotions from both ends of the scale.
Having said that, I now get the chance to clarify a few things. Window Media only allows an op-ed piece to be 750 words in length, so clarification was difficult at best. Let’s start with the comment, “Rich white gay men.” That was clearly aimed at the former owner/editor of Window Media, Chris Crain. He has always been anti-women and anti-trans, as evident by his articles where he said the Hate Crimes Bill and ENDA was being “Trans-jacked” and stated in more than one article that by including transgender people in those legislations was “immoral.” Gay marriage was all that he ever wrote about or cared about, and if he thought he could get away with it, he would have ENDA and the Hate Crimes bill exclude lesbians.
Unfortunately for Crain, there are far more lesbians in his world that it would have been devastating to him if he told it like he really felt. He can bitch and moan about transgender people all he wants because for him, like other Republicans, it is so much easier to pick on the weakest. Woman who had to work with him told me he’s a sexist. Well, I was one transgender person who refused to take his s-word without responding. The “Marriage-jacking” piece was aimed at him and all the others who had the means to get the word out on a wide and massive basis to set the agenda for the rest of the GLBT community. He and large national organizations seem to think that if they say “Jump!” the rest of the GLBT community will follow like sheep and ask, “How high?”
I follow no one. I’ve been an activist for over eight years and I have seen my share of pain and suffering from all parts of the GLBT community. I’ve had two friends commit suicide and one was murdered. I have watched transgender people being vilified by straight people, then by gays and lesbians simply because they didn’t think us worthy to be in the same room with them. Slowly that changed and most everyone now gets it, except for loud-mouth bigots like Chris Crain.
I want to see everyone have a chance to get the same marriage rights and privileges that is afforded by straight people. It angers me to no ends when my straight son and his supposed-future wife don’t get married to take advantage of those privileges, even after giving me a grandson. I want us ALL to be equal in every way with every other American. I spent 8 years in the Navy, pushing around 160 nuclear warheads on a missile submarine protecting this country and the rights of everyone in this country. Yet, I’m told I’m not worthy to have all of those rights. What’s wrong with that picture?
When I see people co-opting the entire GLBT community and making a fuss about one and only one issue, as it if was the cure to everything that ails us, then I get a bit angry. The “rich, white gay men” I speak of are those who make more money in 10 minutes than most of us commenting on Wayne’s piece make in one year. Chris Crain is one of those people.
I want to see the whole GLBT community have a higher quality of life, and for many of them, marriage is not part of that plan. Many gays and lesbians have taken part in marriages when they tried to live a straight life, and for some, it soured them for being in a same-sex marriage. There are gays and lesbians who work in a state where their bosses would fire them if they found out about their sexual orientation. I would think that employment non-discrimination legislation would be higher on their list of priorities than marriage. Many want to be safe and have a more secure job before they can think of wanting to get married. It’s those who don’t worry about money or job security who care more about marriage. It’s a matter of perspective and priorities. The priorities of those who don’t have to worry about losing their jobs are far different than those who do have to worry.
What we are seeing with the same-sex marriage issue in the GLBT community is the same thing that happens in the straight community. Those in power and with the most influence set the agendas for those who don’t. Why do you think the Democrats won the House and Senate? The people without the power revolted against those who had it all. It is happening here. Those who want a more balanced GLBT agenda are revolting against those who want to focus on just one issue, marriage. I’m just one of those firing the first shots. So, if you want to take more pot-shots at me, then go right ahead. I’m wearing my Kevlar underwear.