Last Month’s Q Column

I was asked to post my latest q column. A bit outdated now, but it was from mid-December. I’m too groggy from a head cold to write anything new and original anyway, so here goes..

It was the best of times; It was the worst of times

I’ve never been more proud of being a part of the LGBT community. I’ve also never been more disappointed. The coming together to protest in the wake of the passing of Proposition 8 astounded me. The handling of the No on 8 folks and their decision NOT to utilize LGBT people in their media strategy was unsettling. Calling on the LDS church to support basic protections for LGBT folks – protections they claim to support – was heroic. And the LDS church’s silence in regard to the Common Ground Initiative was not surprising. The renewal I felt after watching MILK was rejuvenating. The dismal showing at Equality Utah by parents to strategize about the adoption bill was unacceptable. I’ve been surprised and thrilled with the stepping up of straight allies in this struggle. And, I’ll admit it, the belief by some that I as a queer person can single-handedly destroy civilization and cause the obliteration of the nuclear family makes me feel powerful. In all of this, it is the racist and transphobic handling – by the national gay media around this entire movement – that I find unconscionable.

I believe there is value in bringing forth commonalities between and among oppressions as a way of finding common ground and as a way of understanding the power structures that keep us (all oppressed people) marginalized. But that, to me, is where the usefulness ends.

A useful argument might be, for example, illustrating that the same arguments that are being used now to deny LGBT folks rights were used historically to deny other marginalized groups similar rights. LGBT people today have heard the argument that allowing same sex couples to marry would fundamentally alter the institution of marriage and would subsequently destroy civilization. Dr. Robert Dabney, who was a theology professor in his day, when talking about women’s suffrage said, “What then, in the next place will be the effect of this fundamental change when it shall be established? The obvious answer is, that it will destroy Christianity and civilization in America.” He said this over 100 years ago.

A not so useful example would be the recent Advocate cover proclaiming “Gay is the new Black” and following that with, “The Last Great Civil Rights Struggle.” This cover sends the message that racial minorities have achieved equality, and it completely denies the existence and the struggle of transgender folks. For folks who bother to read the article there’s a tenuous balance of not claiming the only pain and injustice available in this country. But for the many who see the cover and don’t read the article there’s only this:
The stereotype that gays are white.
The non existence of transgender people and their lives.
The partitioning of oppressions rather than seeing the complex overlapping of our shared experiences.

The truth is that the white LGBT community has not shown up en masse to support causes of immigration, racial profiling, the achievement gap, and the numerous struggles people of color (gay and straight) deal with on a daily basis. The mainstream LGBT movement in many ways, in many places, is still like the early women’s movement. It is not a vast coalition of social justice minded folks who want equality for ALL. Many white gay folks have not analyzed nor even acknowledged the impact white privilege has had on their lives and many are truly not allies to the struggles of people of color in this country. Similarly, many queer folks rattle of “LGBT” without any real regard for the T. GenderPac just released their 70 under 30 Report. 70 gender non conforming people under the age of 30 who were murdered – victims of hate crimes. This report shows just how dangerous it is for gender-nonconforming young people in this country especially for young people of color. While so many of us are (rightly so) worried about marriage equality, there are still so many pressing problems within our community. Problems of drug and alcohol addiction, youth homelessness, hate crimes, in Utah we still do not have workplace or familial protections. Let’s keep the involvement alive, but let’s not base it all on marriage.

For the people who do bother to read the article in the Advocate there’s one very problematic statement amid the tenuous balancing act. The author asks why this movement doesn’t have a “Martin Luther King Jr., a telegenic brilliant spokesperson to whom all of America can relate?” What’s the problem? My movement does have a Martin Luther King Jr. His name is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King’s dream was for all of us. Is your dream for him?

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2 Responses to “Last Month’s Q Column”

  1. Carrie Says:

    Hey, it’s not fair to “recycle” on blogs…I demand originality!

  2. breathingmoss Says:

    Thanks for recycling! If Q is online, I’m not subscribed and I don’t make it to SLC frequently enough to pick up a hardcopy.

    I’m glad to read this. Thank you.

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