27 November 2008

Heteronormativity and Hopefulness

This year, Thanksgiving at Chez Rozilla turned unintentionally heteronormative: did all of the cooking, while I sat downstairs and ran Positron's Task Force in CoH. (Hey, at least I wasn't watching football.) Like I said, it wasn't intentional; I didn't realize that the TF was that long when I accepted the team invite. I did contribute to dinner by running out to RiteAid after we realized that we'd never replaced the corkscrew that broke ages ago. And everything was delicious: the Cornish game hens with pomegranate glaze, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes in cranberry-orange sauce (thank you, Trader Joe's), mustard greens, a bottle of cabernet for Ruth and white zin for me (thanks again, TJ's!). And if we can ever eat again, there's vanilla bean cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory for dessert.

I'm not going to do the requisite "what I'm thankful for" post this year, because frankly, 2008 was mostly full of suck, and what I'm most thankful for is that it wasn't any worse. Instead, I'm going to look forward to the things that I'm hopeful about:

1. I'm hopeful that now that my mother's in the hospital, she'll be able to get the treatment that she needs. I know I'm never going to get the mother I remember back, but at least maybe she can get to a point where she's not constantly unhappy and angry and making everyone around her miserable.

2. I'm hopeful that the California Supreme Court will recognize that the civil rights of a minority--any minority--should never be left to the popular vote, and that Proposition 8 will be overturned so that I can be married again.

3. I'm hopeful that with an intelligent, competent President in the White House, there's a chance we can avoid hurtling off the cliff we've been careening toward for the past eight years. No, Obama's not the Great Progressive Hope, but he appears to be a genuinely thoughtful man who cares about all of the people of this country, and who wants America to live up to its promise.

4. I'm hopeful that 2009 will suck less than 2008, for everyone.

15 November 2008

No More Ms. Nice Dyke

"In order to win votes, you have to convince people that they should LIKE you."

So, basically the idea is that we have to swallow our anger and be nice so that people will like us.

As a child, I absorbed the message that nice girls don't get angry, or at least don't let it show when we are. Since I wasn't supposed to show my anger, and it had to come out somehow, I started cutting myself and banging my head into walls. What I finally learned is that when you stuff your anger down over and over and over again, the festering pile starts to grow and stink, until it bursts out, usually in an uncontrolled explosion of toxic rage and resentment.

Right now, I'm fucking pissed off that 52% of the voters in California think that I don't deserve the same consideration as a goddamn chicken. I'm angry about the fact that the Mormons came in from Utah and spent millions of dollars disseminating lies about me and my wife. I'm livid that a couple of chubby disabled geeky dykes and their two cats are considered such a threat that the constitution of my state has to be amended to enhrine us as second-class citizens under the law.

God forbid I should make people who think I'm less than fully human because of who I love uncomfortable.

If there's a single reason the No on 8 campaign failed, it wasn't because we were too confrontational. On the contrary: we were so afraid of confrontation that we listened to the focus groups who said that mentioning our families and even the word "gay" might offend swing voters. Instead, the campaign was all about abstracts. We said Prop 8 was "unfair" and "wrong", but we didn't say, "We're your neighbors and co-workers and classmates and friends. We're the ones you'll be hurting if you vote in favor of this, because you'll be telling us that we're less than you, that we don't deserve to be happy." We let the other side define us because we didn't want to be too aggressive.

Yeah, that worked out real well.

The reason we're at the point where marriage equality is a reachable goal is because almost 40 years ago, a bunch of drag queens, stone butches, hustlers and runaway teenagers (many of whom were people of color, but everyone seems to forget that) at the Stonewall Inn finally said, "Fuck this shit". Instead of waiting for the NYPD to like them, they got up, got angry, and fought back.

Remember when the President of the United States couldn't even say the word AIDS, even when a friend of his was dying from it? Remember those pissed off fags and dykes who took to the streets yelling "We're here; we're queer--get used to it!" They weren't nice, and they weren't well-behaved, but you couldn't ignore them.

In the history of this country, no minority group has ever gained their rights by being nice and non-confrontational and waiting until people liked them. Right now, 52% of the voters in this state--my state, where I live and work and pay taxes--have effectively come into my house and torn up my marriage license. I'm angry about that. I have a right to be. And I refuse to sit around and hope that maybe someday, they'll like me enough to possibly give me back my right to spend my life with the person I love.

Fuck that shit.

09 November 2008

My *really* last words on Prop 8

As soon as that poll came out, I knew where this would end up.

I've pointed out that the numbers are based on a single, flawed poll, and been accused of "abusing math" and "denying the obvious".

I've mentioned the ways in which the No on 8 campaign could have done a better job, both at outreach to communities of color, and in general (most ads against 8 never even mentioned the words gay or lesbian, and hardly any showed same-sex couples), and been told that I shouldn't blame the victims.

I've said over and over that pointing fingers is useless, but all some people want to do is complain about how black people are the most homophobic group in the country.

And the result? I decided not to attend the protest at the state capitol today, because I was afraid of what might happen. I no longer feel safe in a large group of my so-called queer brothers and sisters if they're mostly white--this despite the fact that November 5 was my 2-month anniversary, and I have no idea what the legal status of my marriage to the (German/Scottish/English, glow-in-the-dark white) love of my life is.

Andrew Sullivan and Dan Savage and friends can keep blaming the brown people if it makes them feel better. This black dyke is through.

07 November 2008

Black Voters and Prop 8: My Last Words

First, some links to discussion of the continuing nonsense:

Someone who saw this coming. She was dead-on.

An example of how the No on 8 campaign dropped the ball, especially with regards to people of color.

Stats showing that if black people hadn't voted, 8 still would have passed--and nationally, we'd be talking about President-elect McCain.

More number crunching. Pay special attention to the maps that show where 8 did well. The idea that California is one big hippie paradise is bullshit. California is mostly liberal along the coast and in the urban areas. Go east? Not. So. Much.

A thorough debunking:

...if Black folks were really 10% of the electorate, we would have contributed 1,730,409 registered voters to the pool. This is a number which with 5 minutes of demographic research any of the haters spewing "Black people are the Reason!" would have realized exceeds the entire Black adult population in the state by more than 300,000 people

Pam's original post from Wednesday. I admit that I was surprised by how many regular posters were trying to tell the black dyke siteowner that she didn't know what she was talking about.

Queer racists show their asses.

More commentary on the bullshit from recent protests.

A post on the "Solidarity (when we want something)!" attitude the big, overwhelmingly white LGBT organizations have toward communities of color.

A truly awesome post that pretty much sums it all up. (Thanks for the link).

And my final thoughts:

I've been banging my head against this wall for the three days now, and I'm over it.

Prop 8 didn't pass because of Obama's tepid opposition to it.

Prop 8 didn't pass because of black voters.

Prop 8 was put on the ballot by white evangelicals, and was bankrolled by rich white folks like Howard Amundson and the mother of Erik Prince, who owns Blackwater--and, of course, that organization noted for being so racially diverse, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Prop 8 passed because the Yes on 8 people ran a strong grassroots campaign, and because the No on 8 side was disorganized, timid, reactionary instead of being proactive, and complacent. I'm certainly guilty of the latter; when the early polls showed 8 down by 9 points, I assumed that people had seen through the stupid and realized that the 18,000 of us who'd already gotten married hadn't caused the world to end. Unfortunately, the No on 8 forces also made that assumption, and it wasn't until the Mormon-funded ads started running that people realized it wasn't going to be that easy.

So what was the response? To release ads that never mentioned the words "gay” or "lesbian", and hardly ever featured actual same-sex couples (and of course, everyone in the ads was white). Volunteers were told not to mention our children or our families, because the "protect the children" frame had already been claimed by the other side--even when they were using images of children in their ads without the parents' permission! There was almost no outreach to the Black and Latino communities until the last two weeks before the election; volunteers have said that heavily Mexican neighborhoods were left off the phone lists because there were no Spanish-speaking phone bankers. In California! While everyone worried that the black turnout for Obama would lead to more Yes votes, no one put out advertising quoting Obama saying Prop 8 was "divisive and unnecessary" until after the ones quoting him saying "marriage is between a man and a woman" went out.

There is homophobia in the black community, as with all racial and ethnic communities. Instead of trying to engage, the No on 8 campaign effectively wrote off the black voters of California. The white LGBTs who are wondering why black folks didn't stand in solidarity need to look in the mirror, at their own organizations that rarely have more than a token POC in leadership positions, that perpetuate racism by supporting people like Shirley Q. Liquor (and viciously attacking black LGBTs who point out said racism). Andrew Sullivan and Dan Savage need to realize that solidarity is a two-way street, and that if you want black folks to see your invocation of the Civil Rights Movement as anything other than cultural appropriation, you need to engage on issues like immigration, health care, jobs, and housing instead of claiming the legacy of MLK while clinging stubbornly to your white male privilege.

And while you're at it, understand that right now, the people who put 8 on the ballot are laughing their heads off. While we're pointing fingers at each other, they're planning their next move. If we keep going this direction, we'll lose next time too.

05 November 2008

Hearts and Minds

Thank you, former Governor Moonbeam: California will still recognize my marriage. Also, the first legal challenge against 8 has been filed, which argues that changes to the underlying principles of the constitution--like an amendment that contradicts the equal protection guarantees of said constitution--must be approved by two-thirds of both houses of the legislature before going to voters.

But even if we win in court, there's still another fight. The LBGT community and straight allies need to stop relying exclusively on the legal process to guarantee our rights. The Civil Rights Movement that the mainstream gay community loves to invoke involved a two-pronged strategy of changing the laws, along with coordinated effors on the ground to change people's hearts and minds. That will never happen if we only focus on the courts.

While it's heartening on one level that the vote was close....it never should have been this close in the first place. The opposition to No on 8 was out-organized and out-maneuvered, and that hurt us more than even the massive amounts of money raised by the Yes crowd; has a great post with an example of how No on 8 dropped the ball. There was enormous complacency--and I'm as guilty as anyone else there--after the first set of polls showing the No side with a huge lead. The other side was much better at connecting with voters on an emotional level, to make it all about children being forced to learn about gay marriage in school, or churches being sued for not marrying same-sex couples. We needed to say, "Here we are--your sisters and brothers and daughters and sons and cousins and nieces and aunts and nephews and uncles and co-workers and friends. These are the faces of the people this amendment will hurt. We are the ones you're saying don't deserve to be happy." We didn't say that loudly or often enough.

04 November 2008

Blame the Brown People = Recipe for Failure

It seems like the frame for the passage of Prop 8 is going to be "It's because Obama's candidacy caused increased black turnout, and the black community is homophobic."

Never mind that it was voters 65 and over who put Prop 8 over the top, or that one of the whitest institutions in America--the Mormon Church--funnelled millions of dollars from Utah to California to make sure that 8 passed. The parts of the state that went solid for 8 were the inland areas, which are overwhelmingly white.

There's no question that homophobia is a problem in the black community, especially the churchgoing segment of said community. And even though I understand why Obama (and all of the other serious Democratic candidates) weaseled on marriage equality, that doesn't mean I'm not disappointed in him for not taking a strong stand against 8.

At the same time, I'm frustrated and angry by the rush to pin this defeat on African Americans. It wasn't a black group that put Prop 8 on the ballot, and paid the signature-gatherers and bankrolled the ads. Nor is it fair to say that Obama's have-it-both-ways position meant that black voters were going to march sheeplike to the polls and vote as Obama dictated.

Writing off an entire race as hopelessly unenlightened isn't going to help; in fact, a lot of the rhetoric I've seen in the left blogosphere tonight is only going to serve to reinforce the idea that "gay" = "white", and that the gay community only notices people of color when there's a comparison to the Civil Rights Movement to be made. And the Blame the Brown People push leaves those of us who are queer people of color marginalized by both of our communities.

That's not the way to build a coalition, and it's not the way to win.

The fight goes on

I'm disappointed, no question; although it's not quite over yet, it certainly doesn't look good: Prop 8 is leading by 4 percentage points.

But tomorrow...we get up and fight this thing. Allowing a simple majority to take civil rights away from a minority is simply wrong.

I do want to thank all of you who donated, canvassed, phone banked, and voted against this constitutional obscenity.

For everyone who voted for Prop 8?

Karma's a motherfucking bitch, and I'm confident that sooner or later, the hate you spewed will be returned in full measure.

The air is humming...

Could it be?

YES, WE DID!

"Rosa sat so Martin could walk, Martin walked so Barack could run, Barack is running so our children can fly."

03 November 2008

Sometimes, I do love my job

I've never worked anywhere else where we could have a serious debate about whether Dick Cheney is Lawful Evil or Neutral Evil.

RIP, Madelyn Dunham

Barack Obama's grandmother, the one he called his "rock" died today. I'm glad he had a chance to say goodbye, and I'm sure she'll be watching proudly tomorrow night.