I once wrote sometime ago about the topic of Post Gay. It was this concept back in the late 90s and early 2000’s regarding an apathy-like state where folks were expressing ‘fatigue’, for lack of a better descriptor, about the state of affairs as it relates to activism for LGBT causes.
There was a section of our community that was giving a shrug at the idea that activism was even necessary. Many had gone on from their teens, and 20’s into their thirties, with sights changed and moving on with family/partnering and getting on with the business of careers, accumulating material wealth, paying taxes and dying.
I, moving from my 30s into 40s at the time could certainly understand this sentiment, although I cautioned against it during the time during an interview with the media on the topic. At the time, I was the interim Director of the LGBT Resource Center at UC Davis, and the reporter wanted to talk about this idea that simply made her aghast. (To be fair, she was a 20 something, so I could see how this might be perceived).
In our discussions with college students at the time, it sparked heated discussions about what is being resigned, versus moving on to advocacy from an evolved or mature perspective and what is apathy, or just plain “sloth”. These are all intelligent questions for comparison but elicited, from younger members of our group, outrage at the lack of outrage.
We even invited a dignitary from state government to come speak with us on activism and how he assisted our state governor on remaining abreast of issues facing the California citizenry and what he should advocate for.
Now, because most of us don’t have a press secretary, we have to decide on our own on what is pertinent, important and worth leaving the couch for. I would assert that it might be actually harder in the modern age with all manner of media resource. We are bombarded by reputable, and far less reputable outlets of information hitting us with stories from every angle. It used to be that if it were the “Star” or the “Enquirer” you’d likely raise an eyebrow with skepticism about the level of truth in reporting. Now with Fox, and other outlets all putting their less and not so less obvious spins on reporting, it’s hard to garner what is trustworthy information. It becomes even harder so when the old-school traditional sources of NBC, CBS, ABC and to a lesser extent CNN all have news stories that are marked “promoted” right on the same page as the “legitimate” news. Heaven forbid you mis-click and you’ll be reading about why the country has gone crazy for a new anti-wrinkle skin cream written in the style of legitimate breaking-news.
There was a time when advertising was kept completely separate from the news. Having worked in the media (old school newspaper) during the advent of the Internet, that line was becoming blurry. Now, some might argue, it just doesn’t plain exist. The old-school media brands protected their reliability and perception of being trusted purveyors of news with all the fierceness that a dog would protect the proverbial bone. Being a trusted source of information was everything. Now, everything is open to suspicion. Whether because of the corporatization of the media, or the competition to drive people to their sites with clicks, rather than doorstep delivery, the media goes to great lengths to get you to visit their URL.
To our detriment, we are bombarded. Which, could conceivably, exacerbate our fatigue and apathy.
I don’t think this has happened so much in the LGBT community as it might have. We constantly have a flow of energized and outraged community members who keep up the fight, and advocacy on all issues. Our most recent and long-fought for prize being gay marriage, now known in our household simply as “marriage”. In our glee, we paused to catch our breath. We collectively sighed a sigh of relief. We slapped each other on the back, raised our glasses to toast our work – find whatever metaphor works for you, we’ve taken our eye off the underlying oppression that exists in this country and around the world.
There are simply people who don’t accept us, and never will.
That statement might sound defeatist. I assure you, it is the opposite. It is with newfound energy and vigor that I’ve arrived at this newest stage in my association with my role in the community as an activist.
My speaking engagements have dried up. I was afore invited to speak to large groups of young people. Please sir. Tell us of homophobia in your day as a young person? What was it like to be gay BEFORE don’t ask don’t tell? What? You were arrested? For Homosexuality? Is that a thing? And, energize our outrage with your tales of disparage you’ve endured, the discrimination you face every day as a couple together for 20 years (at the time) and unable to enjoy all the benefits associated with being a straight married couple. How can that be?
Truth. Gays now serve. (Out. They’ve always served). Even our neighbors have lost their interest in our novelty of being a gay-married couple on our street. (There are now four other couples, and folks have discovered we’re as boring as they are).
In the interim, Transgender has become the new Gay. In novelty terms, folks want Transgender speakers, or representation of the “T” on their board. What? You’re not intersexed? Um. Never mind.
This is neither a complaint, nor an indictment. It’s actually a wonderful thing. Trans friends certainly are the underrepresented in the group of the underrepresented. Nothing pleases me more than seeing the spotlight shined on their struggle (Well. Except Caitlyn Jenner. You can dim that spotlight. But, let’s not go there).
The events of two days ago in Orlando Florida; the largest mass shooting in America. 49 people killed.
There are folks who will say horrific things coming from a place of hate, which I would argue is fear. Fear of what they don’t understand, fear of the questioning of their role in our society and the challenge of the long-standing perceptions of normal and the perceived question of their self-superiority. Horrible things said.
Even politicians or would be politicians claiming that the true tragedy is that our President won’t say a string of words “Radical Islamic Terrorist”. I have yet to hear one of these folks attempt to call-out our president for not referring to Dylann Roof, perpetrator of the Charleston Church Massacre as a “Radical Christian White-Supremacist Terrorist”. No, their hate (fear) of Islam ranks right up their with their homophobia. So, it’s not likely they’d apply the same argument, which might reflect on a group they’d belong to. So, it’s why I don’t take them seriously.
And, herein lies my point to this writing. Advocacy comes in many forms. Some march, and shout, block traffic, blow whistles and otherwise bring literal attention to a matter. I applaud them. Any manner in which you can constructively argue peacefully your point, I support – even if it’s opposite of mine. The entire cause of dialogue starts with you conveying your point and allowing me to respond. Unfortunately, dialogue in this country doesn’t occur so easily.
The other form is to blow things up, incite riots and violence or otherwise bring harm to people and property. This I can’t support. Even if it’s for a cause I believe in. My fear isn’t as much as the bigoted (fearful) people who are exclaiming queers get what they deserve, it’s that in each instance of rhetoric it seems to escalate.
It’s escalated now to a point that the (by the numbers alone) is the most heinous act of massacre has been committed in America. There. But, I don’t believe it couldn’t become more terrible.
So, I examine my own response. All day I’ve been in conversation with folks and friends here in Texas an all over the country. Some angered. Some saddened. Some vowing to a new found verve for advocacy. Some resigned to stay in bed this Monday and not work, or look outside.
I for one will likely do what I continue to do…
Being an example of what it is to live as an American. To go to work. Go come home and kiss my spouse, and make a cup of tea. To give to causes which are important through monetary resource, or more importantly (and becoming more precious with each passing year) my time and effort. Administering to people who are sick and suffering with the disease of addiction is my passion, I’m not likely to forget they need help even with headlines printed in large print next to the latest celebrity gossip, which may or not be a promoted story on this info-tainment-news site.
As I sit and write this, my dog is snoring next to me, my husband is listening to Captain and Tennille (oldies for most of you) while he clips family photos for a Fathers day collage he’s working on. I’m at my laptop typing away while I let out a yawn at the end of the day. A normal day. An average day – – for me. Not for our friends and family in Orlando Florida. I grieve for them. I was saddened to the point of disgust looking at the photos of lost lives and learning their back-story, but in summary it comes to this.
What I want most from the bigoted (afraid) masses, from those who don’t like me, agree with me, or may even despise me is acceptance. Acceptance for me just the way I am. They don’t have to like me. Sure, it’d be great to be embraced, but I’d settle for tolerance. My experience tells me that there isn’t a way to get much more than that from some of these people.
But here’s the deal. If I want that from them, I’m going to have be willing to provide the same. Otherwise, I’m quite likely the hypocrite and have the same disingenuous motives that I sometimes readily spout that I despise them for. I can’t expect something from them, that I am not ready to deliver myself. That’s just selfish – which is not an attractive human trait no matter how you view the world.
So, while I may not have the power to change the entire view of the world, or even America, or even Texas, or even Austin in the time I have left on earth, I will focus on the neighbors I have right here in Copperfield neighborhood. It starts here by demonstrating to them that I have ideals of what is important in my life and the life of my family – ideals of community, faith, love and support.
It’s been my experience in in this life and my work with sick and suffering addicts and alcoholics that anything I do or demonstration I provide, is far-far more powerful than anything that comes out of my mouth.