The gay community is a VERY diverse beast. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender folk and our allies come from every age demographic, every economic position, every level of education, every nation in the world, every religion, every political party... its the biggest melting pot of them all.
But its the whole melting part that is really difficult.
I've been really wanting to do a posting on race relations in the LGBT community for some time, but actually wanted to do it right, get a diverse panel together and get a very strong statement.
You see, I'm a middle class white boy--the loudest voice in the gay community. I come from a family of immigrants that I've witnessed be treated like animals, and I come from an urban home, but I went to private school. I empathize with the black experience, but I don't PRETEND to have any experience that comes close to it. I recognize I can speak up for non-white people, but I can't speak for them. That's why I wanted this conversation to come from many different voices.
You see, I understand my vantage point in the conversation on diversity in the gay community--I can't have any experiences other than the ones I have, and I can't speak for anyone else's. That's why I prefer to let other people speak for themselves. I don't try to compare the struggles I've gone through in my life with those of someone else's--especially when it comes to someone who grew up poorer than me, or in a rural area, or who grew up in a Latino or black or Arab family. I accept our diversity and celebrate it, and support those voices that aren't mine.
However, we all know this is not the rule in the 'gay community.' If you're black, if you're Latino, if you're very poor, if you're very rich, if you're Asian, if you're middle eastern, if you're Indian, if you're Native American, if you're transgender, if you're overwheight, too fit or too skinny, if you're HIV positive, if you're a lobbyist, if you're too young or too old, if you're a moderate, if you're an activist, if you're a lesbian, if you're from the country, if you're from the South, if you're bisexual, if you're a farmer, if you're a factory worker, if you're a politician, if you work for a large corporation, if you're unemployed, if you don't have a college degree, if you don't have your own car, if you don't have an internet connection, if you don't have a disposable income or don't have the right hobbies or interests--than you do not belong to the club.
What's sad is that the members on the "excluded" list far outnumber those on the "included" list. That is to say not EVERY moderate, non-military, middle class, suburban, professional cisgender gay white man thinks this way. But enough run their mouths that this is becoming a problem.
The exclusion is not going to stop, and the loud-mouth armchair activist overly opinionated jaded queens that read this aren't going to learn anything from it. In fact, they'll scoff, send off a nasty comment about it, and go back to planning their night at the bar with their other nice safe white cisgender gay male friends and straight girls. So this post isn't trying to get at them.
I want to speak to those on the list of the excluded. Being excluded like this is demoralizing. I have gotten SO MUCH FLAK for being an activist in the past, for being a moderate (as well as for being too liberal or too Conservative, go figure), for lobbying congress, for supporting gay-friendly corporations, for NOT supporting gay-hostile corporations, for calling out racism and sexism, for having big dreams, for not falling into line with a 'party,' for speaking out against bigotry within the community. I've got a lot of flak for being too rich or too poor, and all sorts of other things--and it can turn you off. It can make you feel defeated. It can make you retreat.
Instead of retreating, what if instead we all banded together in unequivocal acceptance of one another? The soldier and the anti-war lesbian holding hands and singing to end DADT, the transgender girl and the macho farmer taking up the banner in the pride parade together together. Get out of our niches. Get out of our comfort zones. Try to always include someone you wouldn't normally include--in fact, leave your comfort zone altogether and go hang out on your own with a group you wouldn't normally hang out with.
Its time we all opened our mind, before the feedback loop and the cynicism rots out our brains! We all need to accept one another and treat one another fairly and with respect, and unify to reignite the flame of Equality! Put aside our differences in background and philosophy and make our own club.
So to those people who have been bashing transgender people on certain blogs as "not" being part of HIS gay community, I say--fine. Transgender people don't need to be part of his club. You're part of my club, and mine is way better.
To the commenters yesterday on a certain blog who haven't got a good thing to say about a soldier if she saved his life, I say, you know what military people? You don't NEED to be in his tiny lame-ass club, come join mine. Be aware I'm a conscientious objector, but I love and accept you, and support your wish to serve openly and proudly!
To the contributors of that same blog who have never had a good thing to say about gay organizations ever, I say to the hard working organizers and staff of our gay orgs--sure you screw up sometime, and I don't mean to let you off the hook for your mistakes--but you screw up because you're constantly working so far. Anyone who does THAT MUCH is going to get it wrong sometimes. If Queerty won't invite you to their office party, you're better off. National organization staff, state organization staff, and all of the hardworking volunteers--we're all going to have the biggest party yet!
To the black and Latino gays who had to listen to some of the most famous voices in the gay community blame "the black and Latino" community for Prop 8, and have to hear whispers wafting the blatant racism of comfortable Conservative suburban middle-class gays on a daily basis, is that even a club you want to belong to? A certain slogger made it sound like homophobia is only a problem in minority communities--as if the straight white community have completely overcome it (of course, because all gays are white, didn't you know?) . The door's open to MY club, and you don't have to worry about anyone leaving you out of any community here. You ARE part of this community, MORESO than those loudmouth columnists.
To the flag-waving Pride fairies who Max Muchnick and many others would sooner have crawl back into the closet than be a part of his community, come bring your flag and your assless chaps down, come as you are, and stay as you want to be!
Professional gays--I'm a career girl myself! take the elevator to the floor marked "welcome!"
To the hard-fighting, knowledge spreading HIV awareness activists and Poz guys--you sit front and center with me!
To the constantly excluded and bashed upon lesbians who put more effort into the behind the scenes work in the gay community than ANY gay man ever has, pack up your Subaru and boogie on down to my beat--you're in my club too!
Artists and musicians? Find your muse here!
College kids, you're place is here! Open up a brewski and feel free to feel at home.
Leather daddies--remember no nipple-play without permission--but you've found your home. Kick back your jack boots and stay a while!
To the gay affinity groups at those evil corporations that nobody likes--keep doing what you do to try and make those companies a better place to work, and I'll be right there with you!
Drag queens and go-go boys? Do I even NEED to tell you you've got a place here? Weerrrk!
To the religious and spiritual gays--your beliefs will not be shot down and reviled here.
Farmers, mechanics and cowboys, mosey on down, this is your kind of place!
To the super-lefty-liberal gays in tie-dye and dreads--they won't invite you to their cocktail parties, but we've got top shelf stuff here anyway, you don't need to be there!
To gay and lesbian disabled folk, you get left out in the cold a lot. I promise you, you're VIP here.
To the gaythiests, just because you don't believe in God, doesn't mean we don't believe in you!
And to everyone I haven't EXPRESSLY included... please don't feel EXCLUDED. You're invited too--as long as you're willing to befriend anyone who may look different, sound different, and believe different things.
In my club, we're embracing everyone--even those suburban middle class professional white gay men. After all, I'm sort of one of them. The only thing we WON'T be embracing is intolerance to ANY part of our group. Everyone is crucial and everyone belongs, and we're not bashing any more groups, and if you have a problem with that--
Don't let the door hit you where the good Lord split you!