August 21, 2009

Is "Gay Culture" Getting in the Way of Gay Equality?

That's the provocative opinion offered in an essay on the LGBT news site Queerty. Here's an excerpt:

The gay rights movement is in the midst of a perfect storm. Hurricane Prop 8 has thrown our community into disarray. How we get out of this is the question that is on everybody’s mind. I propose that we start listening to and stop talking past each other as has been the case between the Pro-2010 versus the 2012 camps. As turbulent as it is while in the eye of the storm, we should keep in mind that there’s a rainbow after the rain.

Have we bothered to understand other people’s struggles without slight in the form of a dismissive arrogance of their point of view and minimizing their plight? If we can hold empathy, compassion and compromise in our hearts, we can truly engage and support each other in this Herculean task of winning marriage equality back in California.

At the very least, we must admit that the world does not revolve around the LGBT community, and, specifically, the burden of loss and the pain of having our civil rights stripped away is not the White LGBT community’s to bear alone. One would be hard press if we look at the Pro-2010 contingent with their go it alone at any costs mentality. The sacrificing of the most vulnerable of our community, people infected and affected with HIV and the POC LGBT community is a blind spot for most Caucasian LGBTs and is a demonstration of selfishness and self-centeredness to the extreme.

That, I think, is the root of our problems and a besetting weakness!

We all want and demand change, but CHANGE in and of itself is not some ethereal concept floating out there in space. Before we go demanding that people change their convictions, we have to change ourselves. That means that the gay culture has to change. Can we give up our tendency to be insulated and become a part of the larger society?

Strong words. What do you think?

Click here to read the rest of the essay.


  1. Jim, I have had concerns about this for a while. Until I came out I did not realize how much division was in our community. I worry as we get our rights recognized that the damage will linger on long after. I believe our rights will be recognized in the not too distant future, and that is too late to begin the healing of deep deep wounds, some of them inflicted from within.
    I pray for a healing to begin now in our community, a healing of souls and emotional wounds.

  2. I don't really think it's "gay culture". I believe it's culture in general.

    I have often advocated for building a 'real' LGBT community as I've often said there really isn't one due to racism, classism, sexism, genderism and all the other isms that exist.

    Those same isms however, are just as prominent in the 'straight' community. They are learned behaviors that come from our society and our upbringing. We've often heard, and been told, we're no better than anyone else, but how realistic is that? I would most certainly want to believe I am being a better person than someone who hates or discriminates against people of color.

    It's such a gray area. One thing I think we all need to recognize, gay or straight, that we are all different, and we are all human.

    I think this is a good point for any group trying to gain equality however. There is a certain power behind cohesiveness. Strength in numbers so to say.

    One thing people need to try to remember, no matter how different you think you are from someone else, given the opportunity, you will find that many of your struggles are the same.

    My advice, if you're a white gay man, get to know a transgender person of color. If you're a Latina lesbian, take the time to befriend a bi-sexual male. Dialogue is the most important tool in building any community.

    I do believe the LGBT 'community' has many divisions, but again those divisions are with all people, not just LBGT.