Every year, Gay Pride around the world is often the one day of the year that all members of the LGBT global community are free to take to the streets and let loose, share a sense of self with millions of others and take pride in our unified presence. Gay Pride presents itself in various ways throughout the world, but for Americans, as our country slips behind the global mark in terms of civil rights, and each year begins to take on a tone which may not have been as critical since the early days of the movement.
Just as more LGBT Americans become incensed by the continued denial of our civil rights in an information rich America, it seems an equal number of LGBT Americans seem to be settling into some kind of complacency about the issue, if not in theory, at least in practice. I often hear things from the community such as “I don’t want to get married so why should I care about the legalization of same sex marriage?” This statement is, of course, ridiculous. Marriage is legal for all heterosexuals, but not all heterosexuals marry. Clearly, some of us are missing the point.
I’ve spoken to LGBT activists and read statements from dozens of others and their respective organizations, who, while admittedly are fighting to secure our equal civil rights, believe that the only way to gain those rights is to approach the issue from a “gentle” and “compassionate” platform. In other words, rather than chanting and protesting about our civil rights inequities, they suggest we move out into the countryside as centered, compassionate prophets, sharing gently with those who do not support our mission, and who may simply not understand what’s at stake.
Often this takes the form of using the probable consequences to certain heterosexual Americans, such as elderly American couples who may be effected if certain heterosexual unions become the victims of state or federal constitutional amendments which not only bar same sex marriages, but which denounce and reverse previously granted civil unions and employment benefits. Making opposing heterosexuals aware that some of their own may pay a price as well as LGBT Americans may be enough to sway their votes. I can’t say that I disagree that these tactics have the possibility to sway a certain percentage of voters. What I can say is that this is, in my opinion, an ineffectual campaign overall, and even worse, a total betrayal to the issue at hand. These so called LGBT activists and organizations may very well be setting the movement back years, possibly decades, with these “new age”, victim tactics.
American history clearly shows that restricted groups do not gain their equal rights by being polite, compassionate and eerily quiet. Equal rights are gained through protest, factual revelation, shouting, and yes, violence. The United States Constitution is clear on equality and freedom. As Americans, none of us are outside the right to equality and freedom. And with just a minor examination of inequalities over our history, it’s clear that the reason any group in America might have it’s equal civil rights restricted is due to some form of prejudice, hatred or contempt by the majority.
Even more obvious is that virtually all groups in American history who’ve suffered an inequality of equal rights have suffered so at the hands of religion. Ironically, religion is the one thing, that from the beginning, the founding fathers made crystal clear would never trump equality or individual rights in this country. Religion, the all powerful force controlling not just America, but much of the modern world. Religion, which across the board is merely a variation on a mythology passed down through generations and instilled into innocent children to maintain power. Religion, which has nothing at it’s core but a “belief in a story”. Still, in America just as in other countries that we condemn on a daily basis, religion is able to convince citizens to turn from the logical and reasoned principals of a basic human equality and freedom, of justice and injustice, of fairness and the rejection of any one “idea”, and to simply mow over whatever groups are willing to be mowed over.
For that is what we, as LGBT Americans, are long overdue for, a revolution. It happened in June of 1969, as a group of Drag Queens
and supporters took to the streets of New York City outside the Stonewall Inn, a bar, to fight back, to push back against the totalitarian control heterosexual Americans used against them. They moved out and found their voices, their self defensive violence, their own form of control, and hit back and refused to be treated as foreigners in a country which had put their inalienable rights down on paper. The Stonewall Riots were the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement in America and sowed the seeds of Gay Pride, which we are able to celebrate in the month of June, every year.
Once, speaking to an LGBT activist, one very active in the movement, I was told it shouldn’t be out of the realm of reality to me that the equal civil rights of LGBT Americans was just around the corner, maybe a couple of years away, and that I shouldn’t be so pessimistic. That was four years ago. I simply refused to forget that in the late 1970’s, I actually believed the same thing, that same sex marriage was just a couple of years away, as gay people all over America enjoyed a higher level of acceptance. Then AIDS happened and everything stopped, and pushed us into the past. Years later the religious right stepped in and pushed us further back, followed by the Republican party, which morphed into some evil, tyrannical empire, and the Democratic party morphed into a whimpering glob of inactivity. What’s happened to the Democrats is similar to what’s happened to the LGBT movement, both have put down their swords and are waiting for things to get better. It’s time to wake up, before young LGBT Americans who are in their twenties today wake up a few years forward in their late forties and wonder themselves if they’ll see their equal civil rights in their own lifetime.
Just as immigrants have fought, as women have fought, just as black Americans and other minorities have fought, so must LGBT Americans fight. We cannot allow some idea of a “mutually respectable discourse” in America to disarm us into complacency. Inequities in American don’t change without revolution. Our rights will not be granted by gently going into the suburbs, to the front doors of those who simply don’t “understand us”. We must get louder every day and stronger every day. We must hold up the Constitution and every other legal precedent we can get our hands on in order to refute this ludicrous restriction of our rights as Americans. We must denounce silly campaigns which tout that we “threaten traditional marriage”. We must make those who use such campaigns get specific, and we must get specific in retaliation.
We cannot accept the current tactic by heterosexuals who oppose us, that this is not a matter for judges and the courts, but that it must be decided by the people. When inter-racial marriage was overturned, it was not done so by the people, nor were most of the battles before that. Courts were presented with the injustices and they overturned them. That is the purpose of the courts, to maintain the balance. Ironically, even though the legislature in California has twice voted to grant legality to same sex marriage, the will of the people, through the spineless Governor, has blocked it. This is the opposite manner in which all battles have been fought in the past, and we are losing because we are accepting it. The American people will never turn our rights over to us, just as they would never have ended the ban on inter-racial marriage, or (fill in the issue). Further more, Americans don’t have the right to say who gets equal rights and who doesn’t. In the past, judges were often just as prejudiced as the masses or afraid to buck the system. Now that they’re not, the right and the religious have suggested taking powers away from judges and state officials all over the country have allowed the prejudiced majority to enact further restrictions against us. This may be majority rules country when it comes to electing our representatives, but that is not the criteria for civil rights. If it was, you can imagine how many things in the past would not have changed and how this country would look right now.
The facts, all of them, are on our side and easily accessible. We must hold up medical declarations and planetary studies which proclaim homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgender, and all the shades in between and outside heterosexuality to be perfectly natural occurrences not only in the human species but in animal species as well. We must be ready to hold up the bible and state beyond a shadow of a doubt that while it’s the right of any American to believe a particular mythology, it is not the right of any American to legislate against others based on it.