The real failure of gay rights

28 January 2010
5:10 am

As a staff member for GayGamer.net I try to get involved with the community there as much as possible; by and large I think that it's an important resource, not simply because it's an intersection of my identity and one of my biggest interests, but because it's the sort of safe space I didn't have when I was a kid growing up in the southern US, in the closet and deathly afraid that one day someone would discover that I was gay.

Similarly, by and large, given the rather young demographic that frequents the site, I think it's a resource that is mostly lost to them, lucky as they are to grow up in a world where being gay is more accepted than it ever has been. They don't understand the struggles and the previous risks, so they take sites like that completely for granted. Most of them aren't interested in politics, gay politics especially, and discussions about such issues are generally met with derision and implicit opinions of "what's the big deal."

A thread was recently started there around the following rant about modern gay rights, implicitly blaming the fact that we don't have gay marriage and full equality on things like the overt sexuality demonstrated at pride parades or the effeminacy of some gay men. The latter I have complained about here a few times already, but I added a wall of text to the discussion thread after the majority of comments amounted to "I think this guy is completely right." Sadly the guy isn't completely right and most of his perspective is incredibly nasty and self-hating, but as I've lamented before, it's a perspective shared by most gay people my age and younger.

As the GayGamer.net forums require a registered account to read, I was asked if I could post my "essay" someplace else so it could be linked to. I have included it below, unedited, frustrated language and all. In the end, as I say below, I think this mentality is poisonous and more destructive to the gay community than any external bigotry, and I wish it was something that we as a group would grow up and move on about.

Of all the incarnations of this topic that have appeared here this is by far the nastiest. I think it's unfortunate that the only people with sensible viewpoints are likely feeling the same way I do– driven into ignoring this topic out of sheer exhaustion because there's truly little point in discussing it.

I've had to rest for two days after the other thread was ejaculated into oblivion just to muster the strength to come back and write an essay.

The viewpoints expressed here are not just wrong, based on stereotypes of their own, and completely nonsensical, but they're absolutely poisonous to the gay community through and through. Full stop, there will be no further discussion. It makes no difference if you disagree, you are enabling hatred.

1) The concept that pride parades are hedonistic fuck fests where everyone lets it all hang out is something perpetuated by people who've never attended one; generally speaking, homophobes, but clearly also some gay members of this forum. I've been attending them yearly since I was a teenager, and while there's always been copious amounts of shirtless guys, I've never once seen anyone fucking in the streets like you would believe happens from some of the comments in this and the earlier thread. There is little to no slutty behavior going on here. There are no hordes of sex-crazed homosexuals bending down and bending over to suck cock or take it up the ass. Unless you're talking about the Folsom Street Fair, which isn't a pride parade at all but a BDSM convention.

2) Pride parades are not political events to win rights. It's depressingly clear that 80% of this forum is not only too young to have any first hand knowledge of this stuff, but also woefully deficit in taking the time to research their own history in the first place. It's inexcusable; Wikipedia has cliff notes for christ's sake.

Here is your quick summary:

In 1969 there was a tumultuous event in NYC known as the Stonewall Riots. Being gay was not the easy peachy experience that most of you are aware of; gay clubs were non-existent, being gay was socially frowned upon. It was treated as a mental illness, synonymous with pedophilia, and in general something inappropriate. Gay establishments were routinely raided by police just for fun, with the names of the people arrested sent out to the news papers in order to shame the individuals who'd been collected. All of this changed one early Saturday morning when a bunch of homosexual faggots the likes of which you'd all be disparaging today responded to the cops with broken bottles and broken heels. They fought back for the first time, after decades of being shamed and being beaten, refusing to let the cops take over the bar. The fucking riot police couldn't get the crowd to disperse, and this was the first time that gay people across the world woke up and realized that they were human beings, entitled to the same rights as other human beings, and not individuals who should be shamed into darkness or kept slinking around like they were deviants.

It was the start of the gay rights movement, which is 100% responsible for most of you growing up in a world where you don't understand why these things are a big deal. A year to the day on the first anniversary of the riots, a march was held. This was the first pride parade. The pride parade was to make a big spectacle of the fact that we weren't going to be treated like criminals anymore. The cliched mantra of "We're here, we're queer, get used to it," even though it seems trite today, was at that time an admission that most people would never cop up to on their own. It was a time when being gay got you arrested, fired from your job, and treated like shit. It's hard to imagine how terrifying that had to be, with no one to sympathize or support you at all. Pride parades were about taking over a whole section of a city for a few hours and celebrating the fact that you had a safe place to be gay, without being afraid of what would happen to you. They were an expression of the community that we existed and we wouldn't be quiet about it anymore.

This ofcourse had political repercussions, as people left these events empowered to take back the rights that had been denied them, but in and of themselves they were nothing more than revelry. These days they're a way to reaffirm that reminder and honor the memories of the people who have died to get us our rights, or died from diseases like HIV back when it was a "gay problem" and no one cared. It's a way to be in the company of other gay people and just celebrate where we are and how far our rights have come.

3) The media will always focus on the most outlandish aspects of these events to drum up news. If you've never attended one, and just watch the 30 second recap on TV that night, you're going to get a skewed perspective of the event. You're also going to find it's pretty demure if you finally do ever attend one. I'm from New Orleans originally and there's more nudity and obnoxious behavior at a Mardi Gras parade than anything I've seen at a pride event, hands down. I saw my first rack of full frontal tits when I was 10 at my first Endymion parade; can't say I've had a similar experience at pride. And what's funny is that as gay rights have become more popular and gay people have become more accepted, I don't see coverage of pride parades in the news anymore nearly as much as I did when I was a kid. There's a blurb or a quick shot of the crowd, but it's certainly not treated as the freak show it was when I was growing up.

4) In the end it doesn't make a difference if people are cumming on each others' faces in the streets– it's absolutely NO REASON to pretend that it's acceptable to deny rights to a minority group. I read some of these comments suggesting that it is in any way okay and I just have to shake my head in stunned shock. That's enabling the bigotry of right wing evangelical groups and there is no excuse for it. "How can we ask them for rights when we're doing X and Y and Z" — because we're humans, and they can do X and Y and Z already and not have to worry about getting their kids taken away from them, being denied the ability to see their dying partner in the hospital, donate blood, get married, or anything else. My parents were swingers when I was a kid and I didn't see anyone from social services kicking down their door to take me and my siblings into custody. How any of you can even sit there and suggest it would be at all okay to treat us as second class citizens because someone wants to make out with their boyfriend in public or wear glitter and eyeliner is just shameful. Shameful, self-hating and disgusting.

5) No one "pretends" to be effeminate because they're forced into it against their will by some expectation of the gay mafia that it's necessary to be a queen to fit in. Look at your comments here. Look at the comments in the other threads on this subject. Open any random Manhunt profile, gay forum or congregation area. Effeminate behavior is looked down on incredibly, it is NOT encouraged. Instead, you act as if it's put on or affected in order to validate your deep-seeded, underlying issues with your own sexuality. You don't like people who look like fags, because it reminds you that you're a fag, so you act like it's something they're faking on purpose. It isn't. Some people are campy. Some people are effeminate. Some people are screaming queens. It's not faked. They're not doing it to annoy you. It's not pretend. Stop acting as if it is and if it's something they need to quit doing because if they don't "the bigots" will never accept us. That's naive, and it's dangerous thinking.

In the end, in my anecdotal experiences, there's only really two groups of people who care so much about the mannerisms of others. Guys who have recently come out of the closet later in life, and gay kids my age and younger who have grown up in the atmosphere of acceptance that we are BLESSED to have by the struggles of our forebears who fought, literally, to get us where we are. In both cases I think it's an issue of acceptance, or the lack thereof. I hope most of the kids my age grow up and out of it and learn to accept themselves and other gay people instead of putting so much stock on whether or not someone is a queen.

And suggesting that we don't "need" events like pride anymore is completely naive. You can't adopt children in a number of states in the US. You can't donate blood in the US at all if you're gay. You can't get married in most states, either because there's no law allowing it or it's constitutionally barred in others. Kael's wonderful MLK quotes died in the previous thread, but they hold true. Equality doesn't happen on its own. Equality is not something we will obtain because we sit around patiently doing whatever the religious bigots ask us to do. Equality is not given, it's demanded. It's fought for. It's a fight you must always be vigilant for and never back down on. There are groups in this country who despise us and loathe us and want to eradicate our existence. They are raising children to continue their fight after they die. They are raising money and creating lobbyists to deny us equality and deny us fairness and the freedom to be ourselves. If any of you think these people will go away if they stop seeing guys on TV with lisps, you're kidding yourselves.

Pride parades are just as necessary today as they were in the 70s, if for no other reason than to remind the homophobes that we're still out here and aren't ashamed of it, and we're going to win whether they want us to or not.

3 Responses to \'The real failure of gay rights\'

    You don't have an appropriate emoticon for "preach it," but you should.

    Josie aka Poly MonsterID Icon

    Josie aka Poly
    29 Jan 2010 · 3:29 PM

    You still rock, Joshua.

    Zipper Moomintoog MonsterID Icon

    Zipper Moomintoog
    25 May 2010 · 2:20 AM

    Just happened upon this – Wow, Josh, tell it like it is! Keep up the good work 😉

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