I want freedom for the full expression of my personality

— Mohandas Gandhi

My first – and only – first-hand experience of racism happened when I was at school, and involved White and Asian boys being bullied by a younger Black kid who had the protection of a Black boy in the top year. I was one of his victims; fortunately my bruises were temporary however the injuries he received, when he came back to school one September and found his protector gone, probably took a while longer – it was, by any standards, a violent school (incidentally, it’s since been closed down and six former staff members, including the head teacher, prosecuted for child abuse).

Ever since then I’ve been somewhat cynical of claims of prejudice and discrimination coming from Black people – not because I don’t think them genuine, but because experience has taught me that they are no more innocent than Whites in this regard. And this has been confirmed by the actions of many Black, Hispanic, LGB and T people over the last week: no-one is above prejudice – especially the minorities most often the victims of it and should therefore know better.

So I have this to say:

To those Black & Hispanic people who voted away the civil rights of fellow citizens: shame on you for forgetting or ignoring your own pasts, for selling out your own history to religious dogma.

To the LGB people who responded to this with so much vitriol, alienating Black & Hispanic LGBTs – the very people we need if we are to reach out to straight Blacks & Hispanics: shame on you for your anger, hatred and hypocrisy ensures you are no better.

To the trans people whose anger at ENDA led you to rejoice over the misfortunes of LGB people, leaving people like me, both LGB and T, stuck in the middle: shame on you for taking pleasure in another’s misfortunes.

And to all the above: shame on you, for division and recrimination is the fast track to losing hard-won civil rights.

And to the many millions of exceptions to these, and to our allies who have stood by us steadfastly through the years, thank-you – it is through your hard work, level-headedness and determination that we will, one day, win full equality.Just under two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul wrote the following:

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone…

…if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

— Romans 12 vs. 17 & 20-21

Almost 2000 years and we still haven’t learned this? Except that, of course, the religious Reich has – and they’re doing everything they can to keep us divided, off-balance, vulnerable – to make us think each-other is the enemy rather than them; we cannot afford to let that happen.

We need to be focussed on the real threat – the Mormon, Evangelical and Catholic churches which, through their members, bankrolled Proposition 8.

We need to be changing the LGBT community so that bi and trans people and coloured lesbians and gays are more welcome – starting with an immediate boycott of lesbian or gay businesses that discriminate against people who are coloured, bi and/or trans.

We need to stop bashing LGBT people of faith – they’re the ones best placed to change prejudices in their churches, as well as being the ones with most to lose from a gay marriage ban since they’re the ones most likely to want marriage.

We need to stop waiting for the media, sport & entertainment industries’ closet-cases to come out, and instead get out there and raise public awareness of the problems we face ourselves – one-to-one, with the people we know, asking questions, giving answers, breaking down walls.

We need to be increasingly vocal in support of an inclusive ENDA, and supporting the trans community in as many ways as possible – including doing what we can to provide them with work. It’s not illegal to discriminate in favour of trans people – something we should be taking advantage of.

If another minority group has failed to support LGBT rights in the way we think they should, we need to figure out how to change that in the future – and then put it into practice. We need to do some heavy-duty bridge-building.

Proposition 8 needs to be recognised for what it is: a wake-up call to some pretty deep-rooted attitudes many white LGBTs hold. We have an opportunity to change direction both to our benefit and the benefit of other minority groups – the question is whether we’re going to make the changes necessary, or sulk like a child. Personally, I prefer the former.


Some encouragement:

We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down. Give us the tools and we will finish the job.

— Winston Churchill

We have to create the future, or others will do it for us. We have to care for one-another because if we don’t, who will?

— J. M. Straczynksi

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and though

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

— Alfred Lord Tennyson

Be the change you seek in your world.

— Mohandas Gandhi




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