12/22/2008

Table Scraps

Reading comments around the blogosphere on the Rick Warren Problem has proved very enlightening over the past few days. At the risk of hitting the movie tie-in too hard, I can't help but be reminded of Harvey Milk's frequent battles with the so-called "Gay Moderates" of the 1970's in San Francisco.

Back then there was a large contingent of the more well to do gays who very much supported Democratic candidates regardless of their viewpoint on gay issues. No matter how many times they were slapped down they kept coming back to these anti-gay politicians and begging for more.

Their belief was that somehow they could change minds by simply remaining a solid voting block and begging for a handout. Of course, that handout never came because the politicians knew that they didn't have to put out in order to get the votes.

When Harvey Milk came along he turned that on its ear. He eschewed the "moderate gay" idea of begging for table scraps from Democratic politicians and instead advocated running gay candidates and agitating in the streets. He made deals with powerful allies like the unions to support their causes in return for them supporting gays through anti-discrimination rules and political support.

In the meantime, the "moderate gays" kept fighting against him. They assured everyone who would listen that he would wreck any chance of getting anything done and they even ran their own candidates against him who were willing to sit quietly and do nothing unless asked by the powers that be.

This strategy is playing out today in the gay community. As I read comments I find so many "Uncle Tom" gay Democrats who are willing to just go along with anything. They don't want to "make a fuss" and think that anyone who expresses outrage over the lack of inclusion of LGBT issues in the Obama administration as well as his choice of Rick Warren to kick off the celebrations. Their refrain is to just shut up and get along. If we all just sit down quietly and don't make a scene somehow the Democrats will be grateful and help us out. If we just let the Right Wing keep spewing their filth then all will be well because they'll see how delightful we are and suddenly change their views.

Are they nuts? I really think they are. Either that or there's some major self-hate going on in the background. Ahhh, now I think that is exactly what is happening now as it was then. Many of these people aren't technically "in the closet" but are the next best thing. They want to blend in. They don't want people to notice that they're gay or lesbian. They're afraid to stand out and stand up.

These are exactly the people who will not move us forward but will forever hold us back. They think that the way to make progress is to sit like a pack of hounds under their master's table and hope a few crumbs drop their way at some point.

I for one am tired of waiting and I'm tired of these Uncle Tom faggots taking the lazy and cowardly way out.

There was a big shift in public opinion after the Prop 8 vote. Polls showed that enough people had changed their minds who voted for it to actually overturn it. Did that shift happen because after the vote everyone said "Well played! Maybe next time." and went home? No, it happened because people got out in the streets and made a ruckus. People agitated and got the point across that this was wrong. People got passionate.

In Harvey Milk's time the chant that would ring throughout the Castro when people were needed to protest was "Out of the bars and into the streets!" Public protest and outcry will be the only way to make the point. We cannot continue to sit around hoping that someone will notice how well behaved we are and decide to give us a scrap, maybe a minor governmental appointment or someone on the cabinet who has a friend who has a third cousin who is gay or at least "experimented" in college or something. No, the only time we have made progress as a community is when we have taken to the streets and when we have publicly agitated for our own rights. It's time to stand up, not shut up.

Come out of the closet and come out from under the table!


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