Thursday, January 25, 2007

Logic isn't an even playing field when arguing with heterosexual supremacists

I've been a little late in showing love for Bil Browning's post that made it all over the world, far too late considering he's a fellow gay Hoosier. Basically he asked for any and all gossip about heterosexist Indiana politicians, but especially a few who he suspects are closet cases giving head in cars and visiting bathhouses. He wants to make it harder for them to oppose the Hate Crimes and Civil Rights legislation and to support the proposed anti-marriage amendment.

So I'll show him some love now by responding to what he says is the only negative feedback he's gotten: the Indianapolis Star's blog. There's a lot of "Let's repeat all the things we agree on", followed by some "Here're some broad, sweeping statements that aren't backed up and actually kinda contradict each other", and then a "Here's what I really wanted to write about". After that, there's this paragraph:
Given the comparisons gay activists make between their movement and that of the civil rights movement for Blacks in the 1960s, they should actually do more of the things that made the latter successful: Dramatize -- and humanize - their struggle; argue the legal merits of demanding recognition of their rights and privileges to marriage; fight the long-term political battle to stem efforts against gay marriage through grass-roots efforts.
There're a few problems with this.

First, while he's right that a lot of people compare the gay rights movement to the civil rights movement in the 60's, the two groups have some significant differences. One important one is that there were no secretly Black racist politicians to out. This strategy simply doesn't exist for Black people. Second is that since gay people often come from families where no one else is openly gay, they find it much easier to turn their backs on the community. I haven't heard of any prominent Black politicians in the 1960's who were in favor of segregation. But there are gay people in the government who do support heterosexist legislation.

Second, this is a grass-roots effort in a political battle. I don't see any established gay rights groups officially helping Bil Browning out. And this is part of arguing the legal merits of the case: it shows that the privacy and equality that we want exists in practice for a small privileged group of people.

But third I take issue with the idea that we haven't somehow articulated our position well enough yet. Time and time again we show why we are deserving of full equality, making logical argument after logical argument, all to be put on a CNN talking heads show with someone from Focus on the Family who shows up with no logic and no research, just lies and fear-mongering, and to be told, well, the conservatives are probably right that you're asking for too much. The logical argument playing field is not even; if it were, we would have won a long, long time ago. Heterosexual supremacy is not a momentary ignorance, it's a complex system of demeaning and understanding GLBT people as inferior. Facts can't enter that system, because if they did, it would collapse, and heterosexists have far too much riding on that system. Facts aren't going to change people's realities. A dramatic display of the hypocricy of that worldview will.

Consider on the national level - Mark Foley was outed, that aided the Democrats polling numbers dramatically and probably allowd for them to take back the Senate. Is a Democratic Senate better for GLBT people? Yes - far from perfect, but better. The Indianapolis Star wants us to keep playing by a set of polite rules that haven't worked because they just can't work, they're set up so that we fail, and we shouldn't keep repeating the same failed experiments over and over hoping for a different outcome.

At the very least, if Bil gets any dirt, it will be very entertaining. And when you live in Indiana, you take your entertainment any way you can get it.

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