This Ain't No Foolin' Around!
What I'm about to say I've said many times before. People haven't paid much attention in the past. Pardon me, then, while I hit the repeat button!
We must develop a sense of outrage at our own persecution. Without it, the equality movement cannot succeed! In particular, we must stop tolerating "faith-based" organizations that siphon our tax money while banning and condemning us! If we cooperate with our enemies when they subject us to injustices, they will do so eagerly. We must own up to our part in this state of affairs, and change our behavior accordingly!
One way to effectively fight back against organized religion would be a Truth Commission. This commission would stage hearings similar to those held in post-apartheid South Africa. We would give public testimony about how demonizing church doctrine has pushed us past the brink of suicide, torn our family bonds apart, vilified us at our own funerals, excluded us from fellowship, and done everything possible to sever our relationships with God. The Truth Commission would travel around the country soliciting testimony from LGBT Americans. In addition, religious leaders of conscience would be invited to offer apologies on behalf of their faith traditions. Naturally, the hearings would be webcast. Putting our collective victimization on record in this way could be enormously compelling! We could deal a crippling blow to the "Ex-Gay" movement, and seriously compromise the undeservedly squeaky clean image of evangelism.
Also, why don't we have a Gay Tea Party movement? Why aren't we targeting Federal and State laws that discriminate against us with the threat of taxpayer revolt? Jeanne Phillips, the advice columnist known as Dear Abby, suggested years ago that hefty tax breaks for LesBiGay citizens was a fair trade-off for discriminatory public policy. It's time to explore her idea in earnest!
Fighting bigotry is both an external and an internal process. We must check our own behavior for evidence of internalized homophobia. For example, a lot of Gay-interest blogs and websites publish photos of professional sportsmen hugging or patting one another's butts after scoring a goal. These photos are accompanied by snarky captions to the effect of that's so Gay, or snide jokes that question the players' sexual orientation.
This is reprehensible! What makes this kind of ridicule any different from the scornful f*g-baiting that heterosexual males engage in? I scolded the staff of gay.americablog.com for doing this, and much to my surprise, they removed an offending post. It's the first (and probably the last!) time any Gay activist website listened to me.
Whether I'm listened to or not, facts are facts: Adopting the oppressor's methods of talking and thinking about ourselves empowers nobody but the oppressor! "Reclaiming" the hateful habits of our enemies is a monumentally foolish act, akin to hugging a venomous snake to your breast. The most vicious bite is the one you invite! I've posted this quote from the late Lesbian author Audre Lorde in countless comments sections, but it seems to resonate more strongly every time I use it: "The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house." Drop those tools, dammit. Drop them now!
The most alarming effect internalized homophobia has on us comes in the form of lethal sexuality. Millions of young Gay and Pansexual men, especially those of color, risk their health with shame-based sex practices like "fisting", "sounding", "bare-backing", double penetration, auto-erotic asphyxiation and promiscuity. Alcohol and drugs tend to flow freely during these activities, distorting sound judgment. It's fatalistic hedonism, a mindset that Madonna chillingly captures in her song "Revolver": My love's a revolver/My sex is a killer/Do you wanna die happy?/Do you wanna die happy?*
Massive death by orgasm is as effective a way as any to halt the progress of Gay Rights; but would we really die happy, knowing we had rendered the Stonewall riots meaningless? Please think about future generations of LGBT kids. Don't they deserve a better example? We must decline society's invitation to become sexual automatons! An automaton is a mindless life form that doesn't care what it does. Once you stop caring, you stop being human! People who've given up their humanity are neither pleasant nor safe to be around! They make easy targets for scapegoating, too.
As I wrote this essay, Madonna's music was on my stereo. Her hit song "Four Minutes" makes me think of the quickie Gay activism that's become predominant in this era of YouTube and reality TV. Activists today hustle for their four minutes of fame (whittled down from the proverbial fifteen minutes that Andy Warhol spoke of), and it's always about the four minutes, not about advancing equality goals in any substantial way!
I call them the Pig Farmers of Gay Pride! They've learned how to make thousands of Gay people come running at the sound of their hog calls. Squeal! Let's have a kiss-in! Squeal! Let's have a Million F*g March! Squeal! Let's hit workplaces with a Day Without Gay! Squeal! Let's march on Washington for the umpteenth time! Squeal! Let's tape "It Gets Better" videos for Gay bullying victims to watch in-between f*g-bashings! Squeal! Let's protest marriage inequality by having Lesbians marry Gay men! Squeal! Let's protest Proposition 8 with a lewd comedy sketch! Squeeeeal! Let's stage a Gay Rights demonstration in the nude! Lipstick on a pig never looked more ludicruous!
These miserable excuses for effective Civil Rights initiative amount to self-promotion for the Pig Farmers, brazen opportunism at the expense of reforms they only pretend to care about. It is cynical and dishonest and appalling! We must learn how to recognize phony political activism. We must think before we act: Think about who we want to reach, what the best way is to reach them, and how reaching them in a given way will advance equality goals. It's never been true that doing any damn thing is better than doing nothing! Spontaneity is no substitute for careful planning. Instead of buying into every new Pop-Up protest strategy, our time is better spent researching how to discredit Fundamentalist religion and use the Tea Party model to become a constituency that elected officials don't dare ignore!
There's growing realization that we are not being well-served by our advocacy organizations. Not only does that have to do with opportunism, it's a (mal)function of those groups' Democrat Party affiliation. Gay Rights leaders long ago hitched our movement’s wagon to Liberal politics, ensuring that our fortunes would rise and fall with that of the Democrats. That is, whenever they feel it’s safe to acknowledge us as a constituency! Often, they don’t! It's a miracle that Gay Americans have even the modicum of political recognition we currently enjoy. I'm sure feminist, immigration, poverty, health reform, anti-war and environmental activists feel the same way sometimes. When it comes to progressive issues, the Democrats are weaker than watered-down Gatorade!
Is there anything more impotent than the Progressive movement in this country? It jawbones endlessly about pushing government in a Socialist direction, and then campaigns for Democrat candidates whose policies list toward the Right: Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Barack Obama! How much sense does it make that disaffected Republicans would launch a Tea Party movement? They do this after giving George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, the most reactionary President and Vice-President in American history, two consecutive terms! Bush genuflected to the call of his Right Wing constituents, and he's got the Supreme Court nomination record to prove it; but the Limbaugh lobby still isn’t satisfied. So Conservatives get what they want but agitate for an even more extreme agenda, while Liberals rarely get what they want but settle for whatever crumbs the Democratic Party brushes on them! This is smart politics? Compared to what?
Settling for crumbs guarantees that we’ll get nothing but crumbs! We must reject incremental remedies for injustice. We must stop trying to hedge our bets and figure out the surest path to equality. All bets are off when dealing with the high degree of antipathy we face! We must begin acting like full-fledged citizens, instead of like sniveling outcasts, grateful for the tiniest consideration from politicians! Nobody ever gets mad at Aunt Thank-You-Ma'am; she's always so obsequious and agreeable. The other side of the coin is that nobody respects her, either! They know she'll settle for any old piece of garbage that's thrown in her direction.
It is not our responsibility to keep certain candidates or a certain party in power! Rather, it's the responsibility of political leaders to justify us keeping them in power. If they don't, we must withdraw our support from them and seek others more worthy of it. In doing so, we must become blind to party affiliation.
Accordingly, we must stop approaching elections as if they were crap games! We can't continue to support Democrats who are lukewarm or cold on our issues just because we think they have the best chance of winning. Instead, we must be doggedly issue-driven, like our opponents on the Right Wing. Gay Rights platforms must be for us what anti-abortion platforms are to Fundamentalist voters: A make 'em-or-break 'em litmus test for candidates! Progressives frown on single issue voting; as political strategy, they think it’s unsophisticated. If it’s such a lousy idea, then why has it worked so well for the other side?
Unwavering commitment to local and national candidates who consistently champion Gay Rights, for as long as necessary, will ultimately make them viable for office. We'll start out losing more races than we win, but if we hang in there, our winning tallies will increase over time. You don’t have to take my word for it, though: remember a dude named Ronald Reagan? For years, nobody thought he could win Federal office. Oddsmakers counted him out time after time, but he held fast to his Conservative principles, and the tenacity of his supporters finally paid off . . . and how!
More and more Republicans like Ted Olson, Andrew Sullivan, Meghan McCain and (believe it or not) the Cheney family are bucking the Fundamentalist wing of their party and declaring that equality isn't a partisan issue. Libertarians and Independents tend to favor our causes, too. We have a broader range of options now, if we're smart enough to pursue them. We'd better be!
The Democrat Party is like Archie Andrews, burning up the ballroom floor with Betty Cooper but all the while, the redheaded bastard is cheating lustful glances at Veronica Lodge! Bettykins, girlfriend! You'd better learn how to vary your dance card, or you'll always end up going home alone!