Monday, November 10, 2008

We are angry. Now what to do with that anger

Despite the past blogs regarding the Proposition 8 controversy, part of me is pleased with the lgbt community's anger.

It reminds of that soul song "A Thin Line Between Love and Hate." In the song, the protagonist's girlfriend endures hurt after humiliation from him until he goes too far.

Then she took it upon herself to take care of the situation.

Historically, the lgbt community are like that. We endure insult after insult until we get really angry. And when we do, people start shaking.

It's not because we get violent (we usually don't) but because we get infused with that fiersome clarity that always comes with white hot righteous indignation. When that happens, your mind develops a sort of tunnelvision that, if used right, is like a cleansing fire that not only overwhelms everything in its wake, but also gives your enemies the realization that maybe this time, they have gone too far.

It's taking us a little time and despite the minor roadblock we have to deal with (i.e. the Proposition 8 blame game), the lgbt community is reaching that point of fiersome clarity.

It happened after the Anita Bryant/Dade County vote, it happened after the 1992 Colorado anti-gay discrimination vote and it's happening now.

But the question is where will it lead. I like the fact that our community is channeling Howard Beale from the motion picture Network (i.e. "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore"), but we need to take things into account.

These things are the difference between us running our anger out in useless sparks of wildcat rage and using the anger to become a disciplined united force:

1. We now have a president and a Congress who are a little more gay-friendly than the ones we have had to deal with in recent years. That being the case, we have a good chance of passing ENDA, hate crimes legislation, as well as legislation allowing gays to serve openly in the military.

2. The religious right is still out there. They still have the power to motivate on the basis of ignorance, albeit on a smaller scale. In other words, they are still dangerous.

How the lgbt community handles the second issue will determine how much success we will have with the first issue.

We need to have a real assessment of what the religious right can and will do - their strengths so so speak.

Allow me to offer up an opinion on the matter.

1. Expect to see and hear more lies regarding the transgender community.

2. Expect to hear more anecdotes about how the "gay agenda" is being marketed to children or how gays want to silence Christians. The religious right definition of an anecdote is a current event taken out of context (i.e. lies about parents getting arrested for "standing up against the gay agenda," people arrested for "simply preaching the gospel' at a gay pride festival," pastors arrested for "simply preaching against homosexuality").

I would suggest to combat this, we pre-develop talking points like the following:

Religious right - Hate crime laws are an excuse for pastors to be arrested in their pulpits for speaking against homosexuality.

Truth - Hate crime laws deal with violent action, not speech. Also there are already hate crime laws regarding religion and race. They aren't causing a problem, so why would a protection on sexual orientation cause a problem?

Religious Right - But a pastor in Sweden was arrested for speaking out against homosexuality.

Truth - Well that was Sweden. America has different laws regarding speech. Also, the pastor in question (i.e. Ake Green) was acquitted of the charges.

Religious Right - ENDA will force churches to hire drag queens to teach nurseries, as well as "she-males" and 300 pound linebackers with five o'clock shadow and make up.

Truth - Churches are exempt from ENDA. Also, don't you think your examples are a little extreme? What the heck is a "she-male?"

Religious Right - Non-discrimination ordinances will allow men to come into ladies rooms and locker rooms. All they have to say is "I feel like a woman."

Truth - That is a huge stretch. This sort of activity is not covered by non-discrimination ordinances. Also, several cities, including Columbia, SC , have passed these ordinances and there have been NO problems.

One more thing.

I think the possible exploitation of disagreements between the black and lgbt community may be a blessing in disguise. If anything, it challenges us to define the battle on our terms and not that of history. Forget historical relevance. Let the historians worry about that.

Our concern is not how our movement compare with the marches on Selma or Birmingham or the Montgomery Bus Boycott or the March on Washington.

I say we break out the facts and figures. Just how many children are in foster care and will not have a family because of a ban on gay adoption? How many sorely needed linguists have been dismissed due to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell?" How many lgbts fear reprisal at their job for simply putting up a picture of their loved ones?

Our concern is making sure Bobby or Sue can go to school without fear of being beaten up for their orientation.

Our concern is that Bobby or Sue are not prohibited from being all they can be at their jobs or prohibited from starting a family due, not to facts, but someone's "deeply held ignorance" regarding sexual orientation.

Our concern is that Bobby or Sue are not brainwashed by a self-actualizing dichotomy that tells them that they have no other recourse as lgbts other than to act hedonistic because they are not worthy of the words "values," "morality," or "family."

In other words, this battle is not about why lgbts should have our rights, but why should anyone dare to keep them from us.

Let's use all of our anger to make that the focus of the so-called cultural war.