During the African-American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's there were multiple groups advocating for minority empowerment. The two most notable schools of thought that attracted national attention and stimulated the social change that would follow were arguably those represented by the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior and one of a different but just as influential thread, Malcolm X. The former provided rhetoric we could call "accommodating," where MLKJ and like-minded others would employ speech and action that was moved by a means of pacifism, civil disobedience, and peaceful protest. However, Malcolm X and like-minded others pursued change with what many would call "aggression," employing assertive discourse, advocacy for self-defense, Black Nationalism, and over all more confrontational methodology.
It can be reasoned that eradicating segregation, establishing voting rights, and launching the conversation which would move our country closer to equality couldn't have been achieved without both sets of ideas existing and influencing the masses. One approach opened and softened the closed and hard ears of the opposition and the other created a glaring obvious picture of the urgency in demanding change. From this one could go on to posit that the efforts to end discrimination and bigotry stifling any social movement requires voices voices that seek to understand the other side, exercise gentle prodding, and operate with a graciousness that is moved by patience BUT ALSO voices that confront the other side with audacity through brutal honesty and confident action.
I say all of this because it seems that the current state of civil rights for the national LGBTQ community is up in arms about how we are supposed to approach our current equality objectives (and even what our equality objectives are in the first place...)
The thing is that I am a part of queer communities who will lambaste me for just now referring to them as 'queer' community and I am a part of queer communities who would consider that term both academic and endearing. I have gay friends who hate the stereotypical rendering of gay partnership displayed on Modern Family and I have gay friends who tune in every week because the program provides a sense of comical solidarity. I have heard people call Brandon Ambrosino an "Uncle Tom" and I have heard people refer to him as a champion of winning over the Right Wing. I've heard people praise Noah Michelson for his relentlessness in calling out the insidious bigotry that bolsters the anti-gay marriage argument and heard people criticize him for being just as narrow-minded in his progressive thinking as those who are against our fight for equality. I have heard a lot of different versions of the perspectives these two men possess and yet I've yet to hear anyone argue how they are both right.
The difficulty with understanding and doing something about all of the issues on sexual orientation and gender identity stems from a lot of places but I think one of our fundamental problems is that the spectrums and continuums we use to make sense of our experiences have their very own set of spectrums and continuums and in the end we arrive at a place where even the gays hate the gays because they can't agree on what is true or right.
The point I am trying to make is that perhaps instead of letting our differences divide us I believe there is a way to channel them into a device of strengthening. No matter how one makes sense of his, her, or their LGBTQ identity or how they contribute to the movement everyone's voice is significant. After all, throughout the history of queer empowerment it has been our shared values of radical inclusivity and diversity that have enabled us to survive, persevere, and overcome oppressive social constructs. I think this is at least worth taking into consideration as we interact with one another as well as those still resistant to ascribing dignity to our lives and relationships. E pluribus unum. Out of the endless shades of The Gay, ultimately we are one.
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