A few weeks ago, a friend of mine told me that she put in an application to a LGBT publication in New Mexico. She told me what the job would entail, and how she’d really enjoy doing it, especially since a lot of it could be done remotely. After a few minutes of jovial conversation, she came to the rather grim reality that she would probably not even be asked to interview for the job.
After all, she is straight, married, and has two very active daughters. Now, to be fair, she is very LGBT-friendly and has long been an advocate and ally to those of us who are struggling for equality. When I came out to her, she voiced her strong support for gay rights. She’s lived next to gay neighbors, and has even enjoyed conversations about men with her gay friends. However, labels have a way of affecting us pretty heavily in the LGBT community, and I wonder if we’ve done exactly what those boys did way back in the days of the “Little Rascals.”
Oh, you remember them, don’t you? They were Alfafa, Spanky, Buckwheat, and Petey the dog. Those boys always got into any trouble they could. Then then was Darla. She was the precocious little girl who was always excited about some scheme that would net them “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” That’d buy little more than a Bentley today. But hey, this was way back in the black-and-white serials era.
You see, the “Rascals” had this thing where girls just weren’t allowed in their club. After all, girls have cooties. Their club had a special name, of course. It was the “He-Han Woman Haters Club.” No girls allowed! And of course, by the end of the show, the girl would always find a way to foil their nefarious plans at domination in the neighborhood. Oh, to have been in one of those soabox cars!
But we’ve pretty much done the same thing in today’s LGBT society, haven’t we? A few weeks ago, I read how at least one gay organization made clear that their transgender members were no longer welcome. Gay men have called into gay radio shows like Sirius Out-Q’s “Derek & Romaine” to complain about how lesbians were coming into their precious gay clubs. Their complaint was simple: why would they want to have women hanging around? They’re gay, for chrissakes! Women–not even lesbians– were clearly not welcome to these clubbers.
Okay, so we don’t have the “He-Man Woman Haters Club” today, but when I hear some of my fellow gay men in popular culture, I wonder if we’re not behaving much differently. My concern is that these all-too-extreme examples of pettiness might begin to reflect an overall attitude in LGBT culture.
I had a very interesting conversation after a book signing I held a few months back. The discussion revolved around how the Christian subculture has become the overwhelming culture in America, and gay subculture is relegated to cult status. The question was raised, “How can we build bridges in this kind of oppressive culture?”
This is an excellent question.
In response, I’ll ask another question: How can we even think about bridging the gap if we’re too obsessed about our own identities? Instead of the “He-Man Woman Haters Club,” it appears to some of our critics that we have what seems to be an emerging attitude where we want to seclude ourselves from mainstream heterosexual society. We might even call it the “Gay Man Straight Haters Club.” Either way, it’s an exclusive club that demands an inclusive world.
Is it possible that we, who are quick to scream “discrimination” if someone doesn’t hire us because we’re obviously gay, are in fact just as hypocritical? After all, we’ll might refuse to talk to someone because they’re Baptist, or because they’re straight. Are we just as guilty of prejudice if we don’t hire a straight person for a LGBT publication? Discrimination is a two-edged sword.
To be sure, it’s hard enough for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and members of the transgender community to all get along with each other, let alone with the heterosexuals. It’s absolutely critical for us to understand that we can’t even begin to build bridges with our straight neighbors and bring about equality for LGBT person until we start to treat each other equally.
I’ve talked about Soulforce before, and I think it merits mention once again. Dr. Mel White and his organization are working tirelessly to reach out to the Christian and religious community in a way that few other organizations have even thought about. He follows the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, who insisted on absolute excellence in everything that Black Americans did during the Civil Rights movement.
This is a message that we simply must embrace today, my friends. Dr. King’s vision of the Beloved Community was one where everyone worked together and side-by-side to make our nation and our world a better place to be. Our voices today will never be heard unless those voices are joined with the actions of people who care about our society, and who are ready to embrace all that our nation has to offer. Our task is no longer just in building bridges. We must strive to rebuild the bridges that some in our own LGBT community have burned into bitter ashes.
I’m not in any way disillusioned, dear friends. I know we have the capability and the calling to rise above the petty behavior of a few vocal people…the armchair activists… who would rather lock themselves into the fading obscurity of subculture. The rest of us know that we have a world to reach out to; a world that needs to know what diversity is all about.
And to teach about diversity, my friends, we need to first learn it ourselves… and then live it.