Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Our Revolution Will Not Be Televised

As I’d written about in the last blog, Jon Stewart on the Dec. 10 edition of The Daily Show took much of Mike Huckabee’s philosophies on the gay and lesbian community to task. Interestingly enough, the entire argument pertained to the same-sex marriage fight. To summarize, Stewart noted below:

“I think it’s a shame that they have forced gay people (in California) to have to make their case that they deserve the same rights as someone else.”

Marriage … is the bellwether of whether “gay people … deserve the same rights as someone else.” Not to belabor the point, but it must be made: this is the most recent item to come to the table. Any number of other issues pertinent to GLBT have been on the front burner for some time, and are suddenly (and notably) absent.

“Gay Liberation? I ain't against it. It's just that there's nothing in it for me.” — actress, Bette Davis

That encapsulates much of the media rhetoric that’s occurred recently. We’ve seen it on Ellen DeGeneres’ shows (even interviewing GOP presidential candidate John McCain), Hollywood’s stars coming out with splashy TV ads supporting it, Prop 8 national protest media coverage, and gay and straight print media alike (e.g. The Advocate, New York Times) are drawing heroic struggle comparisons between marriage rights and the Civil Rights movement. In a nutshell today, it’s all about marriage.

Nothing else matters – or at least that’s the message communicated to everyone else still waiting for hate crimes protections, employment opportunities, access to health care, and even domestic partner benefits! Hello? Did our Queer Community leadership forget about this one? That’s a pretty ephemeral memory, I must say ….

All of the other incomplete (and glaringly disparate) issues have been overwritten and completely buried in media lately. Some may say that these other issues have already been attained and are unneeded – if not in codified protection, at least in practice as there’s greater public exposure, reduced levels of hate and plenty of gays and lesbians in employment up to even the highest levels of business and government. Heady days!

But these are still unaddressed issues in gay and bi communities of color! Did any of the GLBT leaders ever bother to ask them? I did. Yeah, folks … it’s not been addressed. Ask! H. Alexander Robinson of the National Coalition for Black Justice (NCBJ) recently noted a study showing that staff in GLBT organizations were only 5-7% on average. They make up 12% of the population nationwide – do the math. Undoubtedly the same numbers are likely to be found in other ethnic categories on GLBT employment as well. On average, when they lead organizations these same ethnic minorities are paid $9000/yr. less.

Further down the food chain are (as many consider us) the lowest of the low: the Transgenders. Gay and Lesbians (per estimates) equal 10% of the overall population, with Transgenders at 2%. Finding one of six employees in GLBT-land being transgendered is a dream we will likely never live to see. For a community separate from gay or lesbian, where everyone states that educating on our distinct issues is paramount, the message that communicates to straight corporate America (that even gay and lesbian organizations can’t bring themselves to consider transgenders equal) speaks volumes.

Yet with all the continuing need and over a decade’s worth of advocacy work, the only thing on popular TV and in print is what the privileged, moneyed leaders of what’s now become of the GLBT movement demand. And these, our well-funded leaders, insist upon that being about marriage. The rest of the movement will take care of itself (or so the mindset appears to be).

“You say you got a real solution, well you know
We don't all love to see the plan.
You ask me for a contribution, well you know
We're all doing what we can.
But if you want money for people with minds that hate,
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait.” — Revolution 1, the Beatles

And what if it doesn’t take care of itself? In essence, it’s going to be “who cares? We got ours!” There’s always Cabinet positions to lobby for or other high-visibility positions or elected offices to aspire. Or if they can’t get that, maybe fabulous vacations somewhere. (Do people still do “vacations” in broke-ass America? How?)

Don’t believe me? Take a look at uber-liberal Massachusetts, home to Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Ted Kennedy. Marriage is legal, even out-of-staters can marry there. Trans people? There’s not any meaningful effort to do anything there for them, beyond some dry-jacks for PC image purposes. Equality Massachusetts has plans to go around other states in New England to help pass other marriage laws.

If you’re trans and your celebrating that, you’re brain dead. Get a clue, they’re free.

Otherwise, when gay marriage finally pushes forward through every state in the union (however many decades that takes), we can count on … well … all the Hollywood stars and the media and employers and everyone else fixated on what shows up in front of their noses on the TV set will go away. You think someone like Jon Stewart’s gonna come to the transgender community’s rescue? Fat chance! Do you believe Hollywood’s top stars are going to give impassioned pleas to retrace back and begin pushing to employ trannies? Dream on! Do you really entertain any fantasy about media digging around and discovering that trans people were blithely left behind? Hell to the no!

If you’re lulled by the delusion that Washington’s L&G leadership (personified prominently, but not exclusively by HRC) are going to come back, lift you up, treat you as equals or make amends … well, I’ve got two words for you. WAKE UP!

If you want to fall for unctuous ‘promises’ from the likes of Ol’ Barn’ (“let me shoot ‘em Andy!!!”) Frank, or fake reports of contrition from the likes of Teddy-Boy Kennedy, or any of the sugar-bullet promises from DC “professionals” in LGBT-land, then keep the delusions to yourself or work for the other quislings.

Bottom line, once marriage and all other items on their agenda are attained, all the above parties are going on about their daily lives and never even noticing we exist. That is … unless we take a page from Sylvia Rivera.

Sylvia admitted a year before she died that there was a time to negotiate and a time to “take to the streets”. When you negotiate, you can only realistically do so with those of whom you can negotiate in good faith! Negotiating with these folks have gotten us nothing more than burned, discredited, censored and completely shut out, so that’s obviously not going to work.

The time to unleash your voices is upon us. The unemployed, the disenfranchised and disempowered won’t enjoy the televised assistance to attaining equal treatment. It’s up to us all to raise hell and find a way, by whatever means possible, to stealing back our voice and pushing for our own rights.

If you’re simply going to play polite and wait for marriage to pass before you receive your rights, once that victory’s won the lights go out and the equipment gets packed up and rolled away. And your revolution will be standing there empty-handed in the dark … all by its lonesome.

“If you say you want a revolution, baby,
There is nothing like your own….
After you revolution, baby,
There is nothing you can't be.” — We Are The Revolution, World Party

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