Monday, February 12, 2007

Rights radicalism

I have long considered it proof of the superiority of the gay rights movement over our opponents that while bigots regularly attack and occasionally murder gay people, the most prominent bigots of the anti-gay leadership seem to have little to no fear of us.

I suppose it was inevitible that an anti-gay leading bigot is now claiming that his life is in danger from gay people. It had to happen sooner or later, either from reality or from them manufacturing it so they can claim the false martyrdom that they're so fond of.

I was watching a PBS documentary a few nights ago which explained that in the 60's, african-americans were somewhat divided between those who felt that slow and steady progress toward societal acceptance was the right way, both morally and tactically, to win their civil rights, and those who believed that they had suffered long enough and that it was time to demand their rights immediately and settle for nothing less. Dr. King was a leader among the latter, and channeled the movement almost entirely into peaceful means of standing up against the oppresive might of a bigoted culture.

I see the parallels today. The gay community, after 30 years of slow acceptance, of officially "demanding" our rights while in practice accepting a long series of small steps, has decided to go for the brass ring: marriage. Certainly I understand: I've felt for 20 years or so that if I meet Mr. Right, I will accept a "civil union" over my dead body, and that I will never accept second class citizenship in my own nation. It seems to me to be the sign, though, that the gay community has reached its breaking point: gay people have become sufficiently self-empowered that we are no longer willing to accept the shackles of bigotry, and as a community we are beginning to stand up an refuse to do so.

My fear is that while culture is in some ways rushing to embrace us, it may not be moving fast enough to reach the end point when we do, and that there may conseqently be a successful backlash against gay rights. I fear the bigotry of America, I fear oppressive laws designed to make gay people's lives difficult or impossible, I fear the re-criminalization of homosexuality, and yes, I fear that the detention camps the Bush administration has been setting up could be turned into concentration camps in which to put us to our deaths.

The hate and bigotry of so-called "conservative" America can no longer be tolerated. It must be opposed to our last breath. We must never, even for a moment, allow the statements of hate and intolerance to stand unopposed, un-denounced, silently accepted. They called for a "cultural war" - it's time they get one.

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