Friday, November 14, 2008

Where Gay Rights Fails


This sign was displayed at a protest for prop 8.  I wonder how the lesbian members of the gay community feel about having it declared that womens rights have been accomplished?  I wonder how the gay people of colour who are daily confronted with racism feel about the assertion that African American rights have been enshrined?

Being both gay and of colour, or a woman will mean that you will face at least two forms of marginalization and yet the white male leaders of the community have no problem announcing that these problems are solved.  Oh I know we have  Obama, and a woman almost won the democratic nomination but the problems of racism and sexism have not been solved.

As I have repeatedly said, one of the problems with the GLBTQI community is that it privileges certain bodies over others. While gay marriage is definitely an important factor in terms of social equality, will it benefit everyone equally across the board, or  will it just create a socially accepted vision of what it is to be gay; thereby causing divergent bodies to continue to be marginalized?

There seems to be the understanding that all gay people are affluent.  When we see homosexuality in the media it is always represented by a well educated white person, and more often than not that person is male.  As I watched Dan Savage on CNN eloquently advocate for gay marriage last night, I could not help but wonder where is your passion for those that are less well off than you?  Where is your passion for those that are of colour?  What about those that are gay that are dealing with a disability?

Gay marriage as important as it is, should not erase the need to organize around other causes.  It is a one dimensional approach aimed at seeking acceptability from homophobic heterosexuals.  While I agree that love is love and that everyone should have the same rights around marriage, I cannot help but wonder why this above all is privileged as the organizing focus? 

Could it possibly be that a gay identity is assumed to be a white, predominately male, able bodied identity?  Could this privileging of concerns have anything to do with the social hierarchy that exists outside of the gay community?  It would seem to me that if  we can agree that hierarchy and oppression are a part of our social interaction, then homosexuality should not be eliminated from the equation of possible oppression supporters.  Being gay does not mean that you are not racist, sexist, or ablesit.  The isms act on you just like everyone else.  Facing one kind of social stigmatization does not mean that you do not benefit from the social hierarchy that has come do define western society.

So, yes to gay marriage but how about a yes to dealing with poverty, racism, sexism, fat phobia, and every other ism that works to create a single human being as less than.  Each and every person is worth something.


rebecca said...

Yes. What you said.

Ebony Intuition said...


Alicia said...

It's so good to see and read this post. In my college's newspaper yesterday, they included something similar in their "in & out" section at the back of the pop culture section. They said

In: Gay Right
Out: Women's rights

Rights are not a fad!

Danny said...

While my own interpretation of something isn't the set in stone meaning of it I have to admit that when I saw that I took it to mean that in this day and age there aren't any laws being put on the books that would actively prevent black people or women from doing something.

Now that is not to say that sexism against women and racism against black people no longer exist mind you.

(This is one of the devilish details of everyone having their own interpretation of something.)

Renee said...

It is about more than the picture. It is about the organizing that isn't done in the gay community and who it effects. When you are willing to privilege one group of people in a so-called social justice movement then it really isn't about social justice.

polerin said...

@danny: And there are no ballot initiatives or laws restricting a woman's right to choose either I assume? Nor anybody working to re-segregate schools either.

T. R Xands said...

Polerin I'm so mad that you included that article about Nashville trying to resegregate!

I'm kidding, I'm not really mad at you, it's true...I know my old high school was pretty much desegregated this year to remove the "gang element".

Sorry for that off topic there. Back on subject, something about the sign in that picture just made me ill. The Blame Game with the Prop 8 has really made me look at the LGBT community in a new light--not really negative, but just some obvious things like the privilege you point out have suddenly become glaringly obvious and it makes me a little sad.

polerin said...

yeah. I don't live in metro nashvegas anymore, but I've no illusions as to the area's racism. Got fired from someplace after I got in a heated argument with two co-workers who were spewing the standard right wing reactionary crap. Found out that the management was racist as well (gee big surprise there!)

Queers United said...

I don't know, I don't take this sign to mean the fight for women's rights and minority of color rights are over. I think its saying "we don't have to protest this crap" anymore. Sure there are occasional black and women's protests but now its individual cases and not so much government denial of civil rights.

Danny said...

I don't know, I don't take this sign to mean the fight for women's rights and minority of color rights are over. I think its saying "we don't have to protest this crap" anymore. Sure there are occasional black and women's protests but now its individual cases and not so much government denial of civil rights.
That's what I was trying to say. I don't think the gay community is trying to say that women and black people have gotten all their issues resolved but I do think they are saying that in terms of progress women and blacks are further ahead.

Question polerin. How many state have banned abortion (none of the special circumstance stuff I mean straight up you cannot get an abortion period), how many states have banned gay marriage, and how many states have banned intergrated schools? (This is a serious question and I'm asking because I haven't had much luck finding it yet.)

Anonymous said...

UGH! Danny - all those "special circumstances stuff" is DE FACTO banning abortion in many states (particularly in the Midwest) by making it difficult if not outright impossible to get a private, safe, low-cost abortion near where the woman lives.

Almost all states DO NOT recognize civil unions, let alone marriage.

AGAIN, our education system is practicing DE FACTO segreation, and there is a TON of studies by Harvard University and other institutions that document this in detail.

See how easy this was? Now please, use your Google and you will find all this info. It is disingenuous of you to suggest you aren't having luck finding it.

Dale said...

But we do still need to protest the denial of rights to women and POCs. They are not won, nor are the advances won so far guaranteed to stick.

The LGBT community needs to realize that if we want to have allies, we need to be allies. We shouldn't be writing off anyone, or their concerns.

Anonymous said...

WOW! It's insteresting that people on the "right" make the same kind of argument. They call them special interest groups, and because they are special interest groups, they will never be inclusive of the "other."


Danny said...

Renee I apologize in advance for what I am about so say to Anon 11 and will understand if you delete this:

Listen you there is a huge fucking difference between making it difficult to do something and outright making it illegal. Let me spell it out for you in terms you hopefully will understand. You know how there aren't that many women in high coporate positions right? Even the most hardcore extreme feminist knows there is no fucking law that says women cannot hold those positions. But they will say that the system makes it difficult for them to get such positions.

With segregation yes the districts and laws are worded so that it can happen but go find some districts where is it on the books that the schools legally cannot be intergrated and compare that to the states have actively banned same sex marriage (I suppose since there are more than 50 school districts in the US you could go by percentages). And if you really want to get into legal/illegal vs. de facto when it comes to race think about the old Jim Crow laws.

Now the reason I say I wasn't having much luck was because I am at work as check this blog meaning that while I can comment I don't have the time to spend on researching something like I would at home. So therefore it is not disingenous of me to say I'm not able to find it. It would be disingenous for me to claim the info is not out there or to tell you to find for me because I don't want to. I'm just in a position that I can't spend a lot of time looking for it. If you had bothered to ask why I wasn't having much luck instead of assuming why I wasn't then I would have been happy to tell you.

And for the record de facto does not equal legal/illegal. In fact the fact that something is de facto means that it is not backed by actual law.

Valerie said...

I'm sorry, are we comparing getting married to the millions and millions and millions and millions of women who are dead because they did not have or were shamed into not exercising their right to simple bodily autonomy?

Valerie said...

For the record, I am absolutely for marriage equality, and am even sure that there are dead gays because they can't get married in many places (eg., not being able to access a partner's healthcare). But this is so not the same thing.

Rj said...

what valerie said

Fannie said...

"Could it possibly be that a gay identity is assumed to be a white, predominately male, able bodied identity?"

Yes. I think this is a general assumption that many people hold. Anecdotally, I was reading one predominately gay male blog and one of the commenters said something like "gay men are the new second-class citizens." As if it didn't even cross his mind that lesbian women were affected by Prop 8 too!

Not all gay men think like that, of course, but there is this perception that the default gay human is the white gay male. The rightwing opposition tends to make these assumptions too, and therefore, base their opposition to LGBT rights on the ickiness of anal sex and HIV/AIDS rates. It's deplorable that they do so, but much of the rightwing criticism has nothing to do with lesbian life.

Danny said...

I'm sorry, are we comparing getting married to the millions and millions and millions and millions of women who are dead because they did not have or were shamed into not exercising their right to simple bodily autonomy?
No we're talking about possible interpretations of that picture. But it sounds like you are though.

Valerie said...

Hey Danny, why don't you read over what you wrote in post #10 and then tell me you aren't comparing this to abortion rights.

Danny said...

And the point behind that isn't to say which is actually worse but to say that that is what the holder of that banner is trying to say.

To me the point should be that all three groups mentioned on that poster have serious issues. Just as I'm sure your refence to "...millions and millions and millions and millions of women..". I'm sure you didn't mean that in the sense of, "Yes there several groups who are disadvantaged and its wrong to try to figure out who has it worse...because its a simple fact that women are the real victims."

Anonymous said...


If you were so concerned about these issues at all in the first place, you would have done your homework a long, long time ago.

THOSE ARE ALL LAWS that result in making it difficult, if not impossible, for women to exercise their reproductive rights. They don't have to outlaw abortion, per say, in the literal way you for some reason think they have to before this even becomes an issue of concern to you.

Those are laws that do not recognize civil unions or marriages for gays and lesbians.

And as for our separate and unequal school system, ask legal activists how hard it is to enforce weak existing laws or enact new ones to make our school system more equitable in terms of funding or access, and outlaw or ameliorate de facto segreation (and often a de facto situation is harder to change legally than a de jure one).

And oh, I really love the "listen, you" part. I was initially going to come back and apologize because I was disrespectful in my posting out of exasperation with you, but it is clear you are a concern troll, and like to stir things up.

Valerie said...

Nice try Danny but I really doubt anyone else here thought I meant that. Seriously, I have seen much smoother attempts at changing the subject.

Dori said...

Danny, I think you have just won a silver medal in the Oppression Olympics.

"well" done.