Tuesday, November 11, 2008

let's make one thing perfectly clear

This election was a landmark victory and a long-awaited and much-needed step in the direction of American decency. I don't want to qualify this, as many queer bloggers have, by saying "but Prop 8..." and I won't. For those who oppose GLBTQI rights, that was a landmark victory too. A landmark victory that galvanizes the removal of civil rights, but I suppose it's all a matter of perspective.

Well. Now that the perspective-talk is out of my system, let's talk about why everyone, absolutely EVERYONE, is to blame for this mess. Myself included. Hell, myself especially.

By now, Dan Savage's surprisingly idiotic comments have gained a following among queers who start sentences with, "Now, I'm not racist or anything..." - often, but not always, white. The thrust of his argument cites exit poll data and cultural stereotypes that indicate homophobic attitudes are more prevalent among African-Americans and Latinas/Latinos. What I got out of this is "they're less open-minded than us" - which, in the world of the smug liberal (my world, mind you) - is tantamount to saying "we're just better people than them." Before you accuse me of being reductive, look at Savage's language.
...I’m thrilled that we’ve just elected our first African-American president. I wept last night. I wept reading the papers this morning. But I can’t help but feeling hurt that the love and support aren’t mutual.

Are you joking? Of course the love and support aren't mutual. African-Americans still get hassled by the cops for nothing at all. Legal Latinas and Latinos get flak about their immigration status from total strangers. I may be a whitey just like you, Dan, but at least I can see that we are far from the Promised Land of Mutual Love and Support. Furthermore, the fact that Savage feels entitled to reciprocity of this support despite no real indication that he has earned it strikes me as a very (pardon me, but) White Male Attitude. Perhaps Savage has done some major outreach to people of color, and has really been active in advocating for minorities other those pertaining to orientation and gender. That would be news to me, and I'll happily take back my ugly words if so. Near as I can tell, though, Savage doesn't deserve the "love and support" of voters of color de facto, based solely on his status as another sort of minority.

What bothers me most about this is that these comments truly marginalize folks whose identities are not tied up solely in their sexuality or race alone. Whether Savage intended to or not, he drew a line and put queers on one side and people of color on the other. We all know that's absurd, since there are millions of queer people of color. We also know that white people can be homophobic too. Many, many white people are. This is so basic! In this great post by Anxious Black Woman, the author rightfully points out that the people who killed Matthew Shepard and Brandon Teena were white. So were the people who keyed my truck when I came out and beat the hell out of a guy I went to high school with. To truly embrace the melting pot means one cannot ascribe valued terms or characteristics to entire identity groups. For crying out loud, can we get away from villanizing identity politics? Please?

On that note, I'd like to point out that demonizing the Mormon church is not going to help matters. Yes, the Latter Day Saints went marching in to California with oodles of cash and may or may not have been a turning point on the Prop 8 front. Removing their tax exempt status will not overturn Prop 8, though. Nor will it do much besides remove the tax shelter for an organization that I frankly don't get but provides community and solace for a bunch of people who think I'm a double sinner for liking ladies as well as this fantastic cup of coffee.

What truly needs to happen, in my humblest, is an effort toward giving everyone a decent standard of living. "Wait," you may protest, "how does that help gaywads get married?" It doesn't, not immediately, but let's look at the biggest concerns facing the country as a whole. Not everyone can eat or afford their housing. Not everyone can get access to basic medications. Not everyone gets a decent education or adequate legal representation. Compared to these, officially and publicly recognizing that you and your partner shop for drapes instead of have sex is pretty pale. Yes, there are legal implications. Yes, I think queers should be able to get married and divorced, adopt kids, and be with each other in times of need. But other, more fundamental issues of equality are where my top priorities lie.

Damn. I think I'm a traitor to the movement.

Anyway, I know this is a novel, but it's been percolating for a while. Also, I haven't been cooking as much and the latest craftery is still in the works.

1 comment:

herbstsonne said...

You write amazingly well.

I've been really disturbed to hear coworkers/random folks blame "the Catholic Mexicans" for Prop 8. Um...loads of white people voted for it too. Are they somehow exempt?

Yeah. You tell 'em!