Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The day after - the bad stuff and a challenge to the lgbt community

To those who fought the good fight in Arkansas, Florida, California, and Arizona, don't get discouraged. The battle ain't over yet.

But something needs to be said to my lgbt brothers and sisters at large.

So many in the lgbt movement want to adopt the terminology of the African-American civil rights movement because we are captivated by the visible aspect of this movement, i.e. the rallies, the marches, the speeches.

But we need to reconcile ourselves to the fact that we are not nor will we ever be like that movement. Certainly there are similarities, but we get so entranced by what happened back then that we don't seem to have perspective.

Black folks back then had to march and rally. Visibility was, at times, all they had. The lgbt struggle is different in that we have more tools for success. But we aren't taking advantage of them.

For example:

How many of you are familiar with Paul Cameron and how his bad research tactics influences religious right claims about lgbts?

How many of you know the name of the so-called pro-family group in your area? Do you know their leader or the policy issues they are pursuing now or will pursue in the future?

How many of you are mobilized to fight said iniatives should they come up against the lgbt community in the future? For example, I suspect the Arkansas success against gay adoption is going to cause a groundswell of the same type of legislation in other states.

Before you answer, let me tell you what the other side does.

They study us daily. They read our web pages and listen to our spokespersons in anticipation of getting an advantage that they can use against us. But mostly, they plan and strategize behind the scenes.

That is the reason for their continued ability to mobilize, exploit fear and ignorance even in the face of an electoral defeat, and keep a lock on the words "morality," "values," and "truth."

And us? Some of us (please notice that I did not say all of us) wait until we are threatened by ballot initiatives before we mobilize and concentrate on the enemy.

Some of us wait until our leaders (or celebrities, I get the two mixed up) comment on an issue before we give a damn.

Some of us think that it is more important to focus on the alleged sexual orientation of a legislator's son rather than the fact that the said legislator is using incredibly bad studies and research to demonize the lgbt community.

Some of us will give the religious right a pass when they distort studies and refer to discredited studies because we don't want to play "gotcha games."

And some of us get so filled up with righteous indignation that we don't channel it at the religious right but at our own and why? Because someone used the wrong semantics; i.e. slipped up and said "civil unions" instead of "marriage."

In other words, we are a community with much potential but right now, we are a hot mess.

And hot messes don't win ballot initiatives or elections.

The following tips are merely my opinion as to what we should do next:

1. Get away from the African-American civil rights movement terminology. Certainly we should use it as a blueprint but we should also be trying to establish our own style in fighting for our rights.

2. Educate yourselves about the religious right. Look at their arguments and study their talking points. Develop talking points to counter them and above all, call them out when they lie. Don't be afraid to say that they are distorting certain arguments. And keep on them when you do. Be as tenacious as a pitbull. Make them explain themselves.

3. Keep the passion we have but let's channel it in the right direction. We basically want the same thing but our community has diverse opinions as to how to reach our goals. Yelling at each other over semantic points only hurts us.

4. Don't wait for things to happen. Anticipate. Or hell, create. A letter to the editor over a bad talking point/study or a blogger alert does wonders in getting the conversation talked about on our terms

5. Don't rely on visibility for visibility's sake and avoid the lure of transient empowerment.

6. Don't wait for Ellen, Rosie, or T.R. to say something. Look for lgbt heroes and spokespeople in your own areas. They are out there.

Like I said, this is just my opinion, but that's what I think we need to go next.