The following is an edited and expanded version of an email I wrote to a friend of mine regarding my perception of the appalling lack of the desire for meaningful activism, or even its very discussion, by LGBT people; my take on some of the reasons why there is this state of affairs where so many LGBT people seem quite content to be treated as second-class citizens, bereft of full and equal civil rights as well as the dignity that is conferred by those rights.
Even for many, if not most, “liberal” professing Christians,”unity” of the institutional Church even trumps the quest for “justice” and the fight for equal rights! We see this state of affairs with virtually all denominations within the institutional Church, save for the United Church of Christ, the Disciples of Christ and, of course, the Metropolitan Community Churches that has a specific outreach to LGBT people, and all those who believe in inclusiveness within the Church.
With friends like liberals and others who will sell out the oppressed for purposes of “getting along,” or for purposes of “unity,” or for purposes of “expediency,” who needs enemies?
The only current exceptions to the indolence regarding meaningful activism of whom I can think are those activists from the 60’s like Rev. Troy Perry and Franklin Kameny. There may be others, like Larry Kramer, but I don’t think that many people listen to him as much as they credit him for being a “force” in the LGBT community, particularly as it relates to the AIDS crisis. And I certainly will not neglect the wonderful activists, Andy Humm and Ann Northrop, of Gay USA.
Of course, I can be wrong in this contention, but I see no evidence of the desire for meaningful activism galvanizing itself behind any current LGBT rights “leader(s)”; I see that “meaningful activism” as anemically being identified, as I stated in my November 15th post, with marching in Pride parades and referring to oneself and to others in the LGBT community with demeaning labels.
Self-loathing only goes so far as to explain this phenomenon! I think the lion’s share of the blame for the political apathy and disdain for, and/or the desire for distraction from, discussions of meaningful activism, as seen by comments on assorted progressive LGBT blogs, is pure, unadulterated, selfishness (“I’ve got mine!”) and with one’s being content with not even thinking or, worse, even caring, that he/she is still a second-class citizen; frivolity; hedonism; self-indulgence that has characterized America, and much if not most of the LGBT community, since the 1980’s.
The AIDS epidemic can only go so far as to explain that apathy as well! If anything, ACT UP and the bringing together of LGBT people in the face of this epidemic should have galvanized the outrage (of which there seems to be very little) against being treated as being inferior both civilly and religiously!
The tragedy, it seems to me, is that it’s a combination of self-indulgence; hedonism (see here, for example); addiction to frivolity; selfishness; with a touch of self-loathing that consciously and unconsciously “justifies” the feeling that the homophobes “might have something there” in their condemnation and denying Gay people the same civil and sacramental rights as Straight people enjoy.
I wish more progressive people were out there, especially Christians who understand the message of Jesus, and not the ones who, if they are Christians at all, seek unity over and above justice; who want peace when there must be “war” (the “season of suffering”) to acquire equal rights; who see “love” as being equivalent to acquiescence to the status quo as well as to the appeasement of the rabidly homophobic professing Christians who cause untold destruction of countless lives.
There can be no meeting of the minds between Christ and the demonic! And, we are to make no mistake: To be homophobic is to be demonic, be it through ignorance and/or mendacity!
All the complaining in the world by LGBT people (and I hear very little of that) is not going to move the ball of full and equal civil and sacramental rights down the field. It’s going to take grassroots, coordinated activism, and that activism must begin with serious discussion (And the Internet, among other places, is a great place for that discussion.) of tactics and strategies by which to acquire those rights.
But first and foremost, LGBT people must want equality in every sense of the word, and there is very little evidence that I can see that shows that desire!
I know that one can’t underestimate the psychological impact of all the negative, hateful, messages that have emanated from pulpits, politicians, professing “religious” people, and others. However, there comes a time in one’s life that he or she must forcibly shed the shackles of those yokes of bondage, grow up, act like self-respecting adults, and demand full equality that accrues to every other citizen.
As the Apostle Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1Corinthians 13:11)
So, I say this to my LGBT brothers and sisters, and to those who consider themselves allies in the cause for equal rights: Grow up! Forget the foolishness of such questions as to who is “Mr Gay,” as discussed in the above linked article; stop equating marching in Pride parades as being equivalent to meaningful activism; stop equating being Gay solely with sexuality in the public square; never refer to yourself or to others in the LGBT community with derogatory names and labels, foolishly thinking that by so doing you are being “progressive,” when you are merely demeaning yourself and “justifying” further contempt from many Straights and many LGBT people alike; stop being content with being viewed and treated as second-class citizens, and demand the rights that every self-respecting person would demand; don’t worry about being “liked” or “accepted” but, rather, realize that it doesn’t matter what people think of you, but they damn well better show you respect by treating you as any other person of worth, including the acquisition of full and equal civil and sacramental rights; never allow homophobic rhetoric and/or actions to go unchallenged, be it manifested in churches, places of employment, neighborhoods, or in any other venue.
It is only when such self-respect is manifested, and that discussion of meaningful activism leading to coordinated tactics and strategies comprising that meaningful activism are realized, that the rights currently belonging to Straight people will be acquired by LGBT people, and not one minute before!
[Also posted on A Christian Voice For Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, And Transgender Rights.]