Ok, so I said I would have this up Friday, but school made a liar out of me. Late is better than never, so here we go. I talked last time to straight cis folk about queer pride. Today, I want to address the queer community. See, we have a few things we need to keep in mind when we hold these events. First, people come to just gawk at us. Our parades are spectacles, so much so that I have trans friends who will only go up for the people watching, to see people in various leather outfits, beating each other with crops, or wearing elaborate costumes. The flip side of all of this means that sometimes, people don’t take us seriously. We need to find that healthy balance of self-expression and being taken seriously as civil rights activists. We’ve even had members of our own community try to deny some of us from attending because they were looking for a “more mainstream image,” as discussed by Ivan Coyote in the video below.
Second, another group of people who come to these from time to time are the heterosexist religious groups, who tend to shout that we’re all going to hell. The proper response to this does not involve swearing at them or flipping them off, which happens too often. Either ignore them, or if knowledgeable enough in the Bible, rebut their arguments calmly and rationally. You won’t win over any hearts by being rude, and we need to win over hearts. Be the bigger person.
Third, we really need to start marching with the American flag. No, I don’t mean the one and only one at the front of the parade with the veterans carrying the flags of each branch of the military. Neither do I mean the rainbow stripe version. We need people carrying the good old red, white, and blue. Symbols speak louder than words. Without the flag, we come off as some noisy minority group demanding other people give us what we want. But when we march with the flag, we remind onlookers that we’re Americans, and that we’re declaring that we’re being denied our rights. It’s a subtle difference, but very very powerful.
Which leads to the fact that this past Thursday was the one year anniversary of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. While I congratulate my LGB sisters and brothers on their accomplishments, it indicates my fourth point. Notice I said LGB. Something is missing there. Far too often, the LGB side accomplishes what they want, and then storms off to the next point, forge ting about the T folk who fought right alongside them. And we’re expected to keep going right with you, and if we go “when are you going to fight for our rights?” we get harassed or kicked out of groups for selfishness or some other stupid reason. I still can’t serve openly, and I was forced to choose between serving in a job I loved, or being true to myself. Remember having to once make that choice guys? Remember how much the closet sucked? Yeah, well, we still have that. And unlike you, we often need medical intervention (e.g. hormones) in order to be true to ourselves.
And it’s not just DADT. The LGB rights activists are putting all their eggs in one basket and focusing solely on marriage equality. What about ENDA? I’m in favor of us all being able to get jobs and places to stay. Being able to have a legally recognized family is all well and good and all, but if you can’t support your family or give them somewhere safe to sleep at night, being able to get married doesn’t mean anything. And this is something that’s been fought for over 18 years now. How can you guys forget an 18 year fight? My point here is to fight for all forms of equality, and to fight for equality for all. Don’t leave your allies in the dust wanting to be your equals and you ignore them. Otherwise, you’re no better than the heterosexist system you’re fighting.