CommunityPam's House Blend

The lgbt community should NOT sit this election out

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

According to the Associated Press, a lot of lgbts are angry at the Democratic Party to the point that some are thinking of either not voting or sitting this election out:

If Democratic candidates are counting on long-standing support from gay voters to help stave off big losses on Nov. 2, they could be in for a surprise.

Across the country, activists say gay voters are angry — at the lack of progress on issues from eliminating employment discrimination to uncertainty over serving in the military to the economy — and some are choosing to sit out this election or look for other candidates.

Let me make this short and sweet. Any lgbt thinking of sitting this election out should think long and hard about whether it is a wise thing to do for the community. I say that on the basic principle that no American at any time should surrender his or her right to vote.  Me as an African-American will never do that no matter how angry I feel.

Too many people have suffered beatings, humiliation, and even death for me to vote. For me not to vote would be spitting in their face.

But as a gay man, while I'm not happy with the progress of the Obama Administration on the BIG issues (i.e. DOMA, DADT), there is something nagging me extremely.

The lgbt community has had a wonderful year. Prop 8 was overturned, the Florida anti-gay adoption law is gone, the exposure of George Rekers opened so many's eyes to religious right junk science, the nation rallied around our youth when those awful suicides took place, and this week will mark one year since lgbt-inclusive hate crimes legislation was signed into law.

I have a serious problem reducing all of the positives of this year to one big minus simply because of DOMA and DADT.

I have a serious problem getting angry at the Democrats so much that I am willing to sacrifice our momentum.

But mostly, I have a serious problem with our community getting so angry at what Obama didn't accomplish that we ignore what we did accomplish. Please notice I said we as in the lgbt community and our allies


It would be nice that with a simple stroke of a pen, our lives would get better, but it's not going to happen that way. Even if DOMA and DADT was overturned, we are still going to have to deal with ignorance and prejudice. Our children are still going to have to deal with bullying. We are still going to have to deal with those who seek to either trivialize our lives or bash in our skulls.

All of this took place before the Obama Presidency and it will continue after his presidency. The only reason why there have been positive changes is because we took the initiative to make those changes.

And I guess that's my reason for getting angry at folks threatening to sit out on election day. To me, not voting is the same as cowering when someone threatens you. And this time's it's not necessarily a person making the threats but the circumstances of the times. But as quickly as a coward runs home when threatened by a bully, some of us are retreating into our safe zones, ready to give up our advantage (because we do have one) simply because our anger.

There should be a bit more understanding and an appreciation that the BIG issues are not the only ones affecting the lgbt community and that there are some who not affected by the BIG issues at all. I know many young black gay men who could care less about DADT but was floored by the fact that Obama took time out to speak to youths about bullying. To them, it was the first time they ever saw a president and a black man being publicly supportive.

Some victories may come fast, others will take time, but we are winning.

This by no means is a defense of the Obama Administration or the Democrats, but an attack on how the lgbt community is yet again “reacting.”

For me, it mostly comes down to this:

We reacted because the police kept harassing us as Stonewall,

We reacted because Anita Bryant told those lies about us in the 70's,

We reacted because of the AIDS crisis,

We reacted because of the Proposition 8 vote.

Our history seems to be a pattern of reacting.

When you react, you lash out and are on the defensive. You are not in control of the situation because you are trying to rally yourself from whatever calamity that has been thrust upon you.

And that has been our problem.

We are constantly trying to rally ourselves after being slapped. We wait until we have been wronged before we act and then we try to take care of the situation with a rushed public display of anger. And deciding to sit this election out is the ultimate rushed public display of anger. Refusing to vote would do nothing but surrender our advantage, not to mention send a negative message to the many lgbt candidates running for office (another victory we seem to forget about in the midst of our anti-Obama gripefest).

One level, we do come across as a community with legitimate grievances (because our anger and frustration are legitimate), but on another level, we come across as a community willing to cut our noses off to spite our faces simply because we want things NOW.

But basically, I'm saying this – don't sit this election out because if we don't vote because we haven't gotten what we wanted, then we deserve whatever we get.

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Alvin McEwen

Alvin McEwen