of Gay Rights Activism
of Gay Rights Activism
JESUS of NAZARETH
The First Gay Liberationist
1. Thou shalt not address thyself or thy kind with inaccurate, disrespectful or dehumanizing labels, nor shalt thou do or say anything to marginalize thyself or enable thy own oppression.
By far, this is the rule LGBT folk violate most frequently! There's so much derogatory self-labeling, so much embracing of silly and/or harmful stereotypes, so much devaluation of equality goals on the Internet alone, I'm amazed there's enough Web space to contain it all! Not a minute goes by when some Transperson doesn't call herself a "gender queer"; when some Gay man doesn't joke about "f*gs" and "'moes"; when some Lesbian doesn't use "d*kes" as a rallying cry; and when some Bisexual person doesn't recycle that appalling "I'll screw anything that moves" line.
I often ask myself: Is there anything we love more than identifying with our oppressors? There's a double coating of their ignorant bile on our tongues! When we speak to and about ourselves, all too often we sound just like them. I'm so sick of it! How dare we blame Straight people for perpetuating hetero-bigotry when we ourselves perpetuate it so casually? If we truly want this world changed into a place that's safe to be an LGBT person, then we have to practice the change we desire. There's a popular hymn whose lyrics go: Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me. The same goes for self-respect!
2. Thou shalt not treat thy moral crusade like a political campaign. Thou shalt not value the welfare of political parties over the welfare of LGBT folk, nor shalt thou bind the equality movement to any political party.
Many prominent Gay Rights "leaders" (if I started naming them, I'd never stop!) are notorious for indulging in this transgression. Adherents of both the Left and Right Wings are guilty of it! They'll willingly (eagerly?) shove LGBT issues onto the back burner for the perceived good of somebody's campaign for office. God forbid that the candidate upset his Straight constituents by addressing controversial topics like DADT, DOMA or ENDA; those aren't mainstream concerns, anyway. But if military service, marriage and jobs aren't mainstream concerns, then what is? All you sell-outs, hear me now and hear me well: If you think rigid ideology or party loyalty can ever trump equality goals, you have no right calling yourself an equality activist!
There can be no compromise when it comes to extending safe spaces and blanket institutional access to Lesbians, Gay men, Bisexual and Transsexual persons. By definition, a Civil Rights crusader is sometimes going to disagree with the platform of whatever political party he identifies with. He must put his disagreement into action! His duty is to broaden that platform to include Civil Rights goals; he must never settle for lingering inequality in exchange for access to a candidate and/or promised reforms sometime in the future.
America's gender-neutral populace (especially Transwomen and effeminate men) is an endangered species! The various forms of violence we suffer have been well-documented. Depending on how the political winds blow, we may not live long enough to see reform promises kept . . . remember what happened to German Jews once they became a national scapegoat?
I've never been convinced that those kinds of atrocities can't be duplicated on our shores; but even if you scoff at my fears, you can't dispute the fact that far too many of us have already died needlessly. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, paraphrasing British legislator William Gladstone, said it best in his famous Letter From A Birmingham Jail: "Justice too long delayed is justice denied!"
3. Thou shalt not disrespect Transgender identity, and thou shalt not kick thy Transsexual brethren to the curb for political advantage. Thou shalt endeavor to rid thy movement of transphobia as well as bi-phobia, sexism, heterosexism, racism, sexual racism, ageism and class bias.
Being a microcosm of the larger society, the so-called LGBT community is crawling with these vices! This is undoubtedly the most difficult Commandment to abide by. Yet we must never forget that we're the most diverse group of people on Earth: We come in every ethnicity, skin color, sexual orientation, social class and age group. If we are indeed a community, then that community is (appropriately) rainbow-colored, whether we want to acknowledge it or not.
We must also accept the fact that all of us are Transgender beings, even though we express that status differently(via homosexuality, bisexuality or transsexuality); and just as is true with male or female gender, all expressions of humanity are represented within our ranks. The important difference: We are simultaneously male and female, so society's attempts to shoehorn us into binary gender roles will always fail. One way or another, we all reject heterosexual norms, and one way or another, we all get persecuted for that reason. Homophobia, bi-phobia . . . they're just different forms of transphobia, and transphobia itself is a tool of heterosexism.
Transgender status is not to be confused with intersex biology; as Transfolk know better than anyone else, gender is not determined by genitalia! It's an inner, spiritual state. If you are one of God's gender-neutral children and harbor any kind of sexism, then by default you are guilty of prejudice against your own kind. Which gender can you exclude yourself from? None! It's all within you.
As mirror images of God's Transgender nature, we should arguably be the role models for everyone else. I think the Lord may view us in that way, too. That's why it's ever so important that we cleanse our souls of exclusionary hatred.
4. Thou shalt not defend, attend or fund any religious institution which preaches genocide against LGBT folk, and thou shalt pursue separation of Church and State with all thy mind, heart and soul. Thou shalt directly confront religious institutions that preach LGBT genocide, and thou shalt use authentic, inclusive theology as a weapon against hateful religious doctrine.
Attending churches that spew heterosexist hate can never be justified! Jesus Christ affirmed Gay identity, and the laws He laid down for His followers do not condemn same-gender love in any way. Don't take my word for it, though; read the Savior's teachings in the 19th chapter of Matthew. Then maybe you'll believe me when I say homophobia and transphobia are Satanic expressions! How can you worship both God and Satan? Impossible to do!
It's a sin to sit in silent acquiescence while the Gospels are twisted and distorted! Tithing to support those who distort God's Holy Word is even more sinful. You may point to a ministry's outreach to the poor, the sick, or the incarcerated as justification for your monetary gifts; but the good things a church may do doesn't cancel out the evil things!
If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go . . . to the unquenchable fire. That's what Jesus Christ tells us in Mark 9: 43, 44. And He also says: You will know them by their fruits . . . every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire (Matthew 7: 19-20)! Do you want to be incinerated alongside the dead branches? Let go of those twigs! Grab hold of the Lord instead. We must learn how to distinguish between the Holy Spirit and a demonic spirit! (And how hard can that be, when the occupant of the pulpit calls Gay men "f*ggots" like some Black ministers have been caught doing recently?)
We must never let ourselves fall under the spell of a charismatic minister who is homophobic. We mustn't fool ourselves into thinking the fellowship we find in a hostile church can't be found (and improved upon) elsewhere. What's more, any church whose leadership hungers openly for political power is a church you should depart from straight away; Christianity is a vehicle for redemption, not ambition!
We gender-neutral folk are stubbornly resistant to confronting our religious Right Wing enemies, and even more resistant to purging ourselves of the same Bible bigotry they suffer from . . . but the more we resist, the more I will insist that we grapple with this central stumbling block to equality!
5. Thou shalt not use the equality movement as thy vehicle for exhibitionism, hedonism, political ambition or self-promotion.
Opportunism is another vice that runs rampant in Gay activist circles. Oh, the temptation to name names! Here's where the Savior's teaching about knowing good trees by the fruits they bear is especially useful.
Whenever you see a political candidate running around, calling himself a "fierce Gay activist", switch on your trusty bullsh*t detector! Don't just listen to what that person says, either. Look at what he does, and be sure to look at everything he does! Preaching equality on the one hand while creating safe harbor for anti-Gay discrimination on the other (kissing up to homophobic preachers; sanctioning DADT discharges from the US military; diverting tax money into "faith-based" programs that bar our participation; comparing same-gender love to incest and pedophilia in Federal court) puts the lie to his claims of fierceness!
If you suspect I'm talking about a certain Commander-In-Chief here, I won't dissuade you from your suspicions . . . but you certainly don't have to look inside the Oval Office or among self-described Straight allies to find examples of such duplicity. There's going to be an example of Gay media whoring disguised as activism in my discussion of Commandment Number Ten, and in that case, I will name names!
6. Thou shalt not excuse any form of inequality (such as exclusion from marriage or military service) on ideological grounds, and thou shalt not give LGBT equality less importance than other social issues.
Gay Leftists, especially the more radical ones, are notorious for trying to parse out which Civil Rights LGBT folk "don't need". Not long ago, I tuned into a Pacifica radio show and listened while a group of "RadiQueer" homeless advocates viciously excoriated any Gay person who'd dare fight for marriage rights. Outrageously, this mean-spirited bunch claimed that winning the right to marry was trivial compared to what they were doing ("most queers don't want to get married" one of them fumed), and besides, too much marriage equality activism diverts media attention away from their cause.
First of all, why does a group of people who publicly identify themselves as "queers" think the power structure could ever take them seriously? Second, why do they think they have the right to set priorities for everybody else? And finally, why do they think Gay Americans should fight only one battle at a time? We'll never be liberated at that pace! Such behavior is asinine, counter-productive and infuriating!
Lord deliver me from radical Gay airheads who 1) undermine their own activism by embracing sexual slurs, 2) begrudge the successful efforts of other activists, and 3) think of equality as a freedom smörgasbord they can pick and choose according to personal taste. As my good friend Rev. Jerry Maneker is fond of saying: "Just like you can't be a little bit pregnant, you can't be a little bit free!" It's all or nothing, sugar!
7. Thou shalt vigilantly police media representations of LGBT folk for demeaning, ridiculous and vilifying portrayals, and thou shalt not fail to include Gay media in thy policings.
Beware of broad stereotypes and imposed outlaw status! They can seem like fun, until you realize how effectively they paint you into a corner. They have an insidious way of dehumanizing us and making the heterosexual majority perceive us as inferior.
Of even greater concern is the way they make us perceive ourselves! Here's something I've long known is true: If you want to see how deeply our oppressors have infected us with shame, all you have to do is look at LGBT media. Your eyes and ears are sure to be violated by the parade of misogynist, transphobic, heterosexist, blasphemous, insulting and demonizing words and images to be found there! Some examples I've personally encountered: "The Daily B*tch" . . . "Tired Old Queen" . . . "Yeah, I'm a F*g". . . "Eco-F*gs and Dirty D*ykes" . . ."QueerView Television Guide" . . . "Queer Youth Network" . . . "God made you Gender-Queer" . . ."The Queer Christ" . . . "Ticked-Off Tr*nnies" . . . "Ann Coulter looks like a tr*nny". Sound familiar? We've got a lot of cleaning up to do in our own back yard!
8. Thou shalt preach the gospel of comprehensive sex education. Thou shalt promote intelligent conversation about human sexuality, express thy own sexuality without shame, be considerate of thy sexual partners, and shun sex practices that are unhealthy, irresponsible or illegal.
You'd think this Commandment would be second nature to a Gay activist, wouldn't you? Yet Gay people, especially those who call themselves "queers", are guilty of some the stupidest talk and behavior imaginable when it comes to human sexuality! If I hear one more person claim that life-saving strategies like using condoms and limiting the number of anonymous sex partners is "oppressive" to Gay men's "culture", I'm going to scream bloody murder!
Lacking shame about your sexuality is hardly the same thing as lacking good sense, or having no self-preservation instincts! The extent to which we do lack good sense about sex is the extent to which inclusive health information efforts have fallen short. That's not necessarily the fault of health professionals; Lord knows there are substantial political, cultural and religious barriers to frank teaching about sex. And the way internalized shame impacts behavior is truly insidious.
The solution is not to make allowances for poor judgment, as some irresponsible sex educators have begun to do, but to find new ways to broaden, strengthen and press home the safer sex message. Carrying that message is every bit as important as fighting for marriage equality, DADT repeal, adoption rights or protections for LGBT youth!
9. Thou shalt access public and private educational institutions and use them as tools to diminish fear and ignorance about LGBT people. Thou shalt not be turned aside from this goal by scurrilous accusations of "recruitment".
Far too many equality activists seem to think the school and the church are off-limit zones for reform efforts. If they really are off-limits, then the Gay Rights movement is an exercise in futility! Secular and religious misinformation is the primary weapon used to oppress us; we must disarm our enemies of it!
Yes, ugly suspicions about LesBiGay sexuality still exist, especially where children are involved; but they're nowhere near as bad as they once were. Unless you truly intend to sexually exploit youngsters, there's no reason you should fear accusations that you want to do so. Don't let inflammatory claims turn you aside from a worthy goal! The cost of failing to educate children and people of faith about LGBT issues is far too high (bullying, hostile ballot initiatives, hate crimes, etcetera).
10. Thou shalt protect, nurture and serve as role models for LGBT youth, and thou shalt protect, honor and provide for LGBT elders.
As I type these words, Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller are on a nationwide publicity tour. They're hyping a new book inspired by Savage's "It Gets Better" viral video project, allegedly launched to prevent suicides among LesBiGay and Transsexual kids. (Savage frequently refers to them as "queer" kids, effectively shooting his own anti-bullying initiative in the foot. Yet another violation of Commandment Number One!)
I've got a message for these media darlings: Taping sugary clips to hang up on YouTube doesn't even halfway fulfill my Tenth Commandment! We've got to directly engage with forces in our society that target our children and our elders. Advising oppressed people to wait patiently for a better day is a pitiful way to combat persecution; it amazes me that anyone would think otherwise. The intolerable conditions they suffer won't get better until we act to make them so!
Obviously, I can neither impose nor enforce these standards on anyone; to be sure, God's Ten Commandments are the only ones anybody need feel obligated to follow. But if today's Gay Rights movement really wants to be an effective force for change, it had better adopt behavioral standards of some kind!
I believe the struggle for LGBT equality can have the same kind of dignified militancy the anti-segregation struggle had . . . but for that to happen, we've got to get our minds as firmly fixed on freedom as the minds of our predecessors were. The revolution begins at home, sugar! I've said so countless times, but the phrase never rings any less true.
Let me close out the annotated Commandments with an insight that used to be posted at the bottom of this blog. It’s an example of the kind of thinking we must strive to adopt in order for the Gay Rights movement be truly revolutionary. Even though I wrote it, I certainly can’t take credit for the reasoning behind it. The credit belongs to a Man from Galilee who walked the Earth over two thousand years ago:
It’s been said that love requires faith. It’s also true that faith requires love! If you are a Christian, you have the responsibility not to comply when your brother or sister asks to be called a "b*tch", a "slut", a "c*nt", a "n*gga", a "redskin", a "w*tback", a "'moe", a "tr*nny", a “queer" or a "gender queer". Ignorance is no less ignorant when it comes in the form of a directive; and abuse is no less abusive if it’s perpetrated in response to a request. Giving yourself excuses to demean another person’s humanity is sinful! Be ever so careful not to violate God’s Supreme Commandment:
TO LOVE OTHERS AS YOURSELF.