Thursday, November 6, 2008

HUH on Prop 8!?!?

As a gay person writing for a gay blog, no matter the intended content, I feel obligated to write something about Prop 8. I didn't do it before the elections because I was not, honestly, particularly moved to do so. I had an inquiry from a company selling gay jewelry, and I honestly pondered a link-up post between their products and the concept of Prop 8. But then my thinking straightened me out (no pun intended). There are two things, at present, that I won't buy into:
  1. Gay jewelry - I think jewelry targeted to gays is kind of ridiculous, regardless of their cause marketing tactics. The end.
  2. Prop 8 Hysteria - because the majority of it contains faulty and flawed gay rights rhetoric and is laced with both thinly-veiled and completely unveiled racism
If I stand beside my fellow queers and cheer on this mentality that belittles (not strong enough of a word, sadly) an oppressed group to bring validation to another oppressed group's fervent efforts for justice, I am a hypocrite. I think we need to consider a great number of variables BEFORE we, as queers, start lashing out at a population who has faced significant hardship and frequently fatal consequences at the hands of white people in this country, including gays. It was written into our legislation, it was sanctioned by our government, and the people you are bashing are the people who helped (without justification or free will) to build this country. I've had enough, really.

As far as Prop 8 is concerned, it's laughable how much press, money and attention has been thrown in its direction. Despite my pseudo-anarchist preferences, we have a system of government in this country that forces us to elect individuals (who then make appointments) and it is the responsibility of those people to make decisions on our behalf. I know, I know, it sounds overwhelming unfair but that's how it works. And it is both the privilege and the responsibility of those elected officials and appointees to legislate and uphold the basic tenets of our Constitution. All that stuff that our forefathers wanted for everyone should, for the most part, not be in the hands of the people. OH BOLLOCKS, you say. And I say so too, because I believe that people shouldn't have to operate under such an oppressive structure. But we do. Look at how special interest groups, lobbyists and money affected the voting for Prop 8. It is the responsibility of people like Obama and Supreme Court justices to say, "regardless of the popular vote, regardless of lobbyists and special interest groups, regardless of the hate and bigotry that has infected our country down to its roots, and regardless of any sort of faith-based legislating, denying any American rights afforded to another is NOT RIGHT." And this is where I praise the baby Jesus for inspiring this nation to vote for Obama. He gives us real, palpable hope. And I believe that he will appoint justices that will find any legislation, such as Prop 8, to be unconstitutional. This statement made by the highest of the high courts will allow ALL LGBTQ Americans to live as they wish, and access the rights they are currently being denied. THAT is the point.

Dan Savage was quoted at Joe.My.God yesterday and, without pause or hesitancy, he blamed African-American voters in California for not standing up for "us" like we did for them on a National level. As though we negotiated some sort of swap with Black voters...you vote for us, we vote for you. He quoted an accurate statistic, from what I can tell. He said that 70% of African-American voters, at exit polls, said they voted Yes on 8. What he failed to mention was that ONLY 6.7% of voters in California are actually African-American. That means 93.3% of voters in California are NOT African-American and completely disregards the estimated 58.9% of white voters who took to the polls on Tuesday and contributed HEAVILY to the Yes on 8 initiative. And he also fails to critique, in any way, the very white religious right (specifically MORMONS), who made it their Lord's Work to raise millions of dollars and innumerable units of HATE in order to have this initiative pass. White gays are seething about the injustice leveled at them by Black voters when, in reality and based on simple mathematical equations that can be completed in one's head, it was white people who fucked them over. Got that? Our white brethren did this.

I said to my BFF the other day that I was going to be THAT white girl and quote a prolific Black writer/activist about this struggle that LGBTQ folk are facing. Audre Lorde is quoted as saying "The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house." LGBTQ people have, as a matter of practice, utilized the rhetoric of the civil rights movement in order to draw attention and em/sym-pathy to their cause. "I'm not going to move to the back of the bus on this issue", "Separate but equal doesn't work for me", "Shouldn't Black people understand what it's like for US" and the unapologetic quoting of Black historical figures to draw comparisons between our struggle and the struggles that occur along racial lines in this country. My BFF then said, "wouldn't it be great if we used the tactics of the civil rights movement and gave up stealing the rhetoric?" YES. And that is why I quote Audre Lorde. Using the master's tools, which in this case are money, government, hate and violence to dismantle the master's house is an effort in futility. Cheering about the money we raised for the No on 8 intiative, or raising money at all, is a master's tool. Aren't there better, more effective and righteous ways we can go about our fight for equality?

My final point centers on this ridiculous fight, in general. I believe in marriage. My parents have been married for over 30 years. I think it's lovely that they found love and have stuck with it so long; that they sealed their commitment under the eyes of God and through paperwork provided by the state of Virginia. I believe in marriage for anyone who wants to get married. I do not believe, however, that marriage should afford anyone special rights. That is the injustice here, in my opinion. Beyond the debates about marriage being a religious institution and civil unions being what the government really provides, marriage is simply a privileged institution intended to only validate the individual when paired with someone else. Our fight should not be for marriage rights. It should be aimed at abolishing marriage rights altogether and extending those rights to all individuals. And it is because of that philosophy the fight for marriage rights, and the rhetoric surrounding that fight, boggles my mind. We are second class citizens because we are denied rights as individuals, not because we are denied rights as couples. Anyone who does not have the rights provided by marriage is a "second class citizen" under these terms...that includes single heterosexual people.

I am in a deeply loving, committed long-term relationship. I would love to, one day, be joined in marriage with this person under the eyes of God (and I know a gay priest who is going to do it!). However, my relationship does not cancel out my individuality. I want the rights I deserve whether I am in love or not. I also want to not have my love sanctioned by the government. They don't need to be involved. The religious right doesn't need to be involved either. I told my BFF that this Prop 8 situation was as much an issue of politics as it was an issue of semantics. We need to step back and figure out what is right and fair, for everyone, and not just for us. Issuing threats and invoking racism is not a means to an end. It will only serve to erode any possibility we have, as an oppressed group, to achieve the goals we have for our community. Our President-elect does not believe in withholding rights to individuals that the Constitution explicitly states belong to them. I believe him. And I believe that any person who has experienced oppression in any small or big way has a concept of what needs to be done in order to deconstruct and eradicate bigotry from the social and political landscape in our country. Finally, white LGBTQ folks: I ask you to have faith and to think, carefully and thoroughly, before you speak.

5 comments:

  1. I'm 1: Outraged by the prop 8 win
    2: Curious to see the gay jewelry

    Can you give me a link to the jewelry site :) ?

    ReplyDelete
  2. 2: http://loveandpride.com/

    How did you find out about my blog, out of curiosity? :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well, since I can not remember, I suggest you sign up for google analytics. It would tell you what website brought me to your website, how many times I've visited, how long I stay and where I go after.

    It's only like the coolest thing ever. :)

    I actually subscribe to you now, I think you're smart, funny and well written. Plus, I'm so excited to make that pumpkin bread.

    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  4. OH, I have Google Analytics but I like to be neighborly and ask people where they came from. :-)

    Thanks for subscribing!! And for the lovely compliments. I hope I can keep up with them. And that pumpkin bread is DIVINE. Schmear some mascarpone or cream cheese on top. Yum.

    ReplyDelete
  5. LOL, Gay Jewelry is such a gimmick.

    I'm happy you're not peddling it.

    Now that I think about it, if you're gay and you wear jewelry... isn't all of your jewelry, "Gay Jewelry".

    ReplyDelete

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