The gay rights movement is in the midst of a perfect storm. Hurricane Prop 8 has thrown our community into disarray. How we get out of this is the question that is on everybody’s mind. I propose that we start listening to and stop talking past each other as has been the case between the Pro-2010 versus the 2012 camps. As turbulent as it while in the eye of the storm, we should keep in mind that there’s a rainbow after the rain.
Have we bothered to understand other people’s struggles without slight in the form of a dismissive arrogance of their point of view and minimizing their plight? If we can hold empathy, compassion and compromise in our hearts, we can truly engage and support each other in this Herculean task of winning marriage equality back in California.
At the very least, we must admit that the world does not revolve around the LGBT community, and, specifically, the burden of loss and the pain of having our civil rights stripped away is not the White LGBT community’s to bear alone. One would be hard pressed if one looks at the Pro-2010 contingent with their go it alone at any cost mentality. The sacrificing of the most vulnerable of our communities, people infected and affected with HIV and the POC LGBT communities, is a blind spot for most Caucasian LGBTs and is a demonstration of selfishness and self-centeredness to the extreme.
That, I think, is the root of our problems and a besetting weakness!
We all want and demand change, but CHANGE, in and of itself, is not some Ethereal concept floating out there in space. Before we go demanding that people change their convictions, we have to change ourselves. That means that the gay culture has to change. Can we give up our tendency to be insulated and become a part of the larger society?
It’s a give and take! If we want acceptance and respect we have to earn it. If we want to join the larger society, we have to prove that we are worthy of it. Nothing transmits the message of love more than altruistic actions. Otherwise, our demands for change will fall flat on its face because it’s entitlement at best and hypocritical at least.
If there’s any consistency in human behavior, judging from my on the ground experience with regards to the complacency of the gay community during the No on 8 Campaign, gay men specifically, most if not all of us only concern ourselves with our preoccupations with the Dicks, the Dollars, the Drinks and the Drugs. We don’t have room to give a damn about anybody else if it doesn’t concern us and what we want. One would only have to look at the low turnout at Tuesday’s HIV/AIDS Protest at Pershing Square to see the latest example that Peter Pan is still unwilling to leave his ivory tower and come down to earth to join the POCs in the other good fight besides the gay marriage equality fight.
Right now, the Pro-2010ers don’t have much experience and they don’t have a plan. They don’t even know how to collect signatures to qualify for a ballot initiative. It’s scary to think that these newcomers hold they can steamroll the POCs and EQCA without having any kind of strategies or skills to get a ballot language qualified let alone run a successful campaign to win back marriage equality for California.
Make no mistake folks, the task before us is nothing less than to demythologize the institutional lies surrounding marriage. What we’re looking to do is flip the foundations of society on its head. That’s what our jobs will be in ‘changing people’s hearts and minds.’ Religious bigotry is much different than racial discrimination. At its heart, a religious conviction is what gives people a compass to guide them on how to live their lives. That we think we can just show up at people’s doors and demand they let us yank the rug from underneath them because we are morally superior is a pipe dream.
The Pro-2010 contingents are afraid that if we go in 2012, due to several developments on the national front, that California will be one of the last states to legalize gay marriage. This, they think, will make California lose its progressive status. And so it is revealed that it’s hurt pride. On that front, I get it. The POCs feel they are being slighted (again) by gay white men. They’re losing face! They too, myself included, will have to get over their pride.
Wake up people, California is a state of haters. The stain that has been left on our Constitution will be forever etched in the pages of history. It hurts, yes! But, it’s not what happens to us that matters, but how we choose to respond. Rushing blindly into battle without a road map for success is a mistake that we cannot afford.
I would be remiss if I didn’t give the Pro-2010ers credit for being up on their history lessons. Yes, the mobilizations of the civil rights movement have produced many gains to the African-American community before the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. However, we can’t ignore the four guiding principles that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. laid out before us, "In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham." The LGBT movement is still in the midst of the negotiation phase. In other words, our movement is not ripe for direct action until we’ve purified ourselves and become an altruistic movement (get off your asses and out of West Hollywood and help other people with their causes.) We would do well to remember Harvey Milk’s dog poop story.
The logic that right now marriage equality is the driving force behind the LGBT movement is an excuse.
Until both the Pro-2010ers and the Pro-2012ers can learn to compromise, we won’t be seeing blue birds anywhere over the rainbow. The perfect storm that our community is going through will have been for naught.