23 December, 2008

For Those Who Fail To Understand Why There's Such an Uproar

A lot of people get why Rick Warren is such a rancid choice for giving the invocation at Obama's inauguration. I wish Obama would get it instead of babbling about "inclusiveness." Perhaps he just needs a short, sharp lesson in why this has been such a cruel slap in the face to the LGBT community.

Remember that Warren was one of the big-name supporters of Prop 8. Here is one of the newlyweds he's victimizing with his hate (h/t):
I often wonder if the people fighting to strip away our marriage really stop to think of the individuals involved, to really put a face on the news story and the nameless numbers. They are great about putting out press releases, commercials, and emails talking about the dangerous homosexual agenda, but I wonder if they think about the people they are working so hard to take things from.

I wonder how they would feel waking up one day to read a headline in a newspaper that their marriage is not valid and is over. Talk about being breaking news- the two people who are directly affected, whose marriage is being dissolved, have no real say in it.

Think about it. Think about being told your marriage is a sin, that you're no better than a pedophile. Imagine how much that must hurt.

And if you still have trouble understanding their pain, try reading this succinct summation:

But when I heard Warren had been invited to pray at Obama's inauguration, I felt sick to my stomach. I cried. It wasn't a judgment; it wasn't an intellectual assessment; it wasn't a political strategy. It was just genuine pain.

But it was nothing -- NOTHING -- compared to what I felt when I started reading diaries here on Daily Kos, full of smug, ignorant pontification on how we need to not be SO ANGRY or SO HURT, and lumping us in with the "What Obama is doing wrong" crowd, and ignoring that our response to the Warren invitation is a completely separate phenomenon.

Let me explain something very carefully, for those who don't know: none of what's going on in the fight for LGBT rights is part of a strategy, as should be apparent by our lack of a cohesive movement and any viable leaders. It's a true grassroots uprising among people who got a taste of freedom and decided we wanted more. We were no longer willing to settle for a long, slow, state by state battle, for death by a thousand cuts, for an extended period of second class citizenship.


You keep telling us we need to reach out and build bridges to the religious right. Do you really think there is any point at all in telling us we need to reach out to homophobes and bigots, to the people who run the churches that abuse our youth and shove us out the doors, that have brainwashed our parents into rejecting us, that tell us they "love" us while they knife us in the hearts with their laws?

Why don't you tell them to reach out to us? We're the ones who have been wronged and harmed, disenfranchised, electro-shocked, had our kids taken away in ugly custody battles, lost our homes when our partner died, been thrown out of the hospital rooms of our lovers, had wills overturned and benefits denied. We're the ones who had our equality thrown up for a popular vote, and whose rights are denied us in the constitutions of 29 states. Telling us to reach out to them is like saying battered women need to reach out to their abusers, or children to the priest who molested them.

Read this diary explaining the impact anti-gay bigotry has on loving families. A seven year-old child watches as his mother tries to show her parents that the family she was creating with her partner was one worthy of love:

Its funny, my first experience with hatred and bigotry was not from some outside source, but from within the people who I thought loved me the most. I still feel that bitter feeling I felt all those years ago still bubbling up inside me. I have never told anyone about this moment, not even my fiancee because it is still to painful for me to talk about. I cannot physically speak about this without crying, and it is entirely too complicated to try to speak about.

We got to my grandparents house and I remember having a feeling of pure tension. That is not a feeling that I had ever felt before that point. We stood on the doorstep together, all of us wrapped up in our own worry. Finally, after what felt like a lifetime, the door opened and we were let inside. There were chairs in the sitting room, two on one side, two on the other and us kids were told to go play in the TV room. I went to the toy chest that had been there for all of my life and pulled out the legos that I had gotten last christmas from my grandma and grandpa. About fifteen minutes went by before the yelling started.

Once again, I don't remember what was said, I just remember the emotions behind the words. I remember my mom's absolute frustration with my grandparents lack of open-mindedness. I remember the hatred that dripped in my grandma's speech. I had never heard her talk like that. Her voice was usually a sweet old lady's voice, but in that moment, I decided that was the voice of hatred. I remember a huge clatter and my mom screaming to us that it was time to leave, and I remember Rosanne's black eye.

My grandma had hurled a chair at Rosanne's face. Yes, one of those aluminum fold up chairs. She got hit in the face and ended up with a black eye.

If the anger spilling from the LGBT community right now perplexes you, keep this in mind:

Yes, we've come a long way. But we suffered, struggled and crawled our way here... sometimes LITERALLY crawled to get here.

We endured hate, beatings, death, torture, shunning, excommunications and discrimination to get even just this small part of equality. (and when I say "we" I mean I.. I have endured EVERY thing on that list, as have many gay and lesbians here).

So, give us a bit of slack when we get angry and hurt when someone who represents, and is an integral part of, all of that hate and torture and death is giving the prayer that will bring in what we hoped will be a new and hopeful presidency.

We've endured a hell of a lot to get even here. There is my story, in a nutshell. So, please, don't presume to tell us when we should be 'calm'. I've spent nearly four decades being 'calm.'

It strikes me that asking people to build bridges and reach out to embrace those who are fighting to take away their rights is awfully ridiculous, considering that battle is still raging. There will come a time for outreach and understanding. It hasn't arrived just yet.

And how, exactly, do you reach out to hypocrites? Maybe we can start with a little lesson in what's contained within the Bible:

The religious right picks and chooses which parts of the Bible they want to apply. And they choose based on which outsider group they would like to hate next. First, they emphasized slavery in the Bible when they wanted to hate black people. Now, they emphasize the parts condemning homosexuality so they can hate gay people.


Now the Bible says that a man shall not lie with another man. That is true. But it also says, in the same exact book, that adultery is an abomination. And the just punishment for this sin is execution. So, who will execute the first adulterer? Please step on up. May the one without any Biblical sin cast the first stone.

Here is a question no one can answer -- and lucky for the right wing, the media never bothers to ask -- why do you only focus on the part of the Bible against homosexuality but not on the part against adultery? It's one thing to say you're against adultery; it's another to take away their rights. How come no religious figure in this country has mounted a campaign to take away the rights of adulterers? Let alone execute them.

I think this is a question we should be asking a lot more often, myself. It could shake at least a few bigots into realizing that they're just one literal reading away from finding themselves in the same boat with gays.

Of course, the likelihood of them having an epiphany is minimal. There's a surer way to win this battle for equality:

A September poll showed that two-thirds of those under 35 support same-sex marriage. The most active opponents to same-sex marriage largely have been those who have received the dreaded letter from the AARP. I believe that the solution to marriage equality sprouts from these statistics.

To win marriage equality, you must live them to death.

(Consider this your pallette cleanser - it's wonderful and whimsical and funny as hell. Enjoy, then join me back here for the wrap.)

To put everything in perspective for those perplexed by the outpouring of anger and anguish, this diary by a man who is able to understand by analogy is exactly right. He explains that he and his brother were abused by fundamentalist adoptive parents who "thought of my brother and I as their ministry instead of as their children." They beat them, tried to cast the devil out of them, and kept one brother in their home with lies and threats because they were getting state money for him. His brother remembers the aftermath:

When he turned 30 I couldn't take it anymore. I didn't care if I went to jail for it... I got him out of their house. I remember the day he came to live with my wife and I(six months after we got married). He was so broken, but so alive too. He had spent those years doing research on his own and writing books. Down there in the basement.

He was so happy to be out. He called that day his independance day.

We found out that my parents had been lying all along. They had never had control.

My brother was so angry. He wished they would burn in hell forever. He wished they would go to jail for the rest of their lives.

At first I tried to argue with him saying that they are still our parents, but then I saw his look... the look where he retreated... where he accepted that nobody cared about what he felt... and then I couldn't disagree with him.

I remember that. And I realize that gay people are experiencing that same thing right now. And even though I want to say that they should try not to be so extreme and how these people are still people...

I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I was wrong. Be angry. Tell everyone how angry you are. Fuck them if they can't take it. Fuck me if I can't take it.

You deserve to be free.

Do you understand now? Good.

The LGBT community, once more, has been kicked in the face. This time, it's no good telling them to calm down and be patient and inclusive and reach out to those who think they're evil - these things won't help them. All they do is allow bigots to feel better about themselves.

I know Rick Warren's starting to feel a little less certain about his stand. You can see evidence that the outcry is reaching even his religion-plugged ears:
So Rick Warren pulled the anti-gay language from his church Web site. The site used to explicitly ban gays from membership in the church.
We're getting through. The din may even be loud enough for Obama to hear, and eventually shows he understands.

Keep shouting.

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