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Who Is The Enemy for LGBT Rights?

A friend on Facebook posted this to his wall:

…thinks we would have equality a lot faster if we spent more time pursuing those who stand against us than potentially harming those who so clearly stand with us.

This is a crucial sentiment, and one I wish more so-called LGBT rights activists would consider. On the one hand, I get it. Gay and Lesbians are so tired of being treated as second class citizens that their frustration, and anger is boiling over, and they are lashing out at anyone they can identify as not standing strong enough “with us.” On the other hand, lashing out at individual folks who are with us generally speaking, while ignoring the vast anti-gay  machinery  accomplishes the opposite of what we need. We can’t and won’t build unity and strength by in-fighting.

I’m not a big fan of the HRC, but I’m also not sure that they haven’t been accomplishing as much as was possible given the way Washington works. But a place where they, and possibly all LGBT “leadership” has failed us, is by crafting an expectation about how Equality happens. Maybe they didn’t craft it as much as they allowed it to be developed by failing to define and educate everyone. Full Equality will take a lot of work over the long haul, and many many things will happen along the way that will impact that process. I’m not suggesting we should wait for Equality. Waiting implies a passive state- we need to be actively working at it everyday. But the work that Equality will take won’t happen overnight with one of two legislative votes or a judicial ruling. It will take constant ongoing action by all of us.

Who is the enemy of LGBT Rights?  The real enemy are the folks who are leading the Radical Right push to obliterate our rights. Groups like the American Family Association, and the National Organization for Marriage. These are groups that seek social purity through the adoption of a Religious state. These aren’t the only groups, but two of the most powerful. The enemy is also groups like  The Family, the pseudo-religious organization , now most famous for C Street, the DC residence where high ranking Republicans carried on their extra-marital affairs, or negotiated how to end them. While the Family isn’t actively working against LGBT Rights here in the US, they are intimately involved with the Kill the Gays movement in Uganda, and their work, here and there, undermine the real basis for democracy. Without a working democracy, we will never have Equality. Each and every one of us need to be fighting that enemy.

It may be the wrong time to tell gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender folks that the hard work isn’t over. They may not be thrilled to hear that if we are to achieve Equality, we all must double down our efforts, and work in more direct ways by getting engaged in the legislative process. I always smile when I meet someone who is ranting on and on about how we are tired of waiting for Equality, but that individual doesn’t even know the names of their legislators, and haven’t met them, or written them. I sigh every time I hear a person bash the government for not acting on our issues, but that same person isn’t out at work, and changes pronouns when talking about their partner so as to keep their identity a secret. And I have no patience for the person who thinks that firing off an email is enough- that they have don’t their part.

This is both the most exciting and most frustrating time to be an activist or advocate for LGBT Rights. We are in the midst of (hopefully) the last throes of a Culture War where the far right, led by religious zealots are doing everything in their power to maintain the status quo where gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender folks remain marginalized and the targets of discrimination. There may be no good moment to lose sight of the goal, which is to overcome this opposition.

2 Comments

  1. Well said. The man in the mirror is frequently our biggest enemy and this is often true in fighting for equality. It is tiring and frustrating work and it may at times burn us out, but the power to make equality a reality lies within each of us. Because of that I must echo your sentiment about the real failure of the LGBT leadership being a failure of teaching us to manage expectations about the speed of change and the long haul it will most likely be.

    But that is an overall problem I think most movements and organizations encounter. It’s a hard lesson to learn and a hard lesson to teach. I think it is all the more difficult to do when you are attempting to fundraise to do the work needed. How do you be real and still keep hope alive enough to keep funding up?

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