Column: Politics shouldn’t define LGBT community
Apr. 19, 2011
The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
You’ve seen them: bejeweled and underwear donned, dancing wildly on parade floats, waving their flags in summer breezes. Yes, they who infiltrate your suburban sensitivities, who shove sexual politics down your throat, are ubiquitous.
I’ll admit, they’re an unfair stereotype of the LGBT community. For one, it’s not every day a parade fills your streets, and even the most salacious reserve their jazzy undergarments for special occasions. But their collective message, their mantra, does not die away between parade seasons.
I’m not ambiguous about my sexuality, nor do I willingly conceal my politics, so it would be unfair of me to critique the LGBT community solely for being too aggressive. However, my membership in the activist community has only ever been categorical, not equally voluntary.
LGBT community members claim the concept of pride is centered purely around one’s own liberation in their sexuality, gender identity or identity as a whole. They claim politics and religion have no role in said pride, and pride events are merely the collective celebration of a multitude of sexualities, gender identities, oddities and quirks that define the community.
Yet one cannot mistake the message embedded in their activity -- that legislation on marriage must be passed immediately, but moreover, that groups in opposition to said legislation are unequivocally prejudicial, if not hateful. Religious fanatics, radical right-wingers and conservative Christians are the trade definitions of those opposed to marriage legislation, yet the definitions do not completely carry the hateful weight latent in their rhetoric otherwise.
Groups like the Westboro Baptist Church are treated both as extreme opposition and as the expected paradigm for all religious or moral opposition to non-heterosexual identities. Religious or moral opposition is thus treated as unequivocally hateful and archaic, and discussions regarding sexual morality are immediately stifled and thrown out the window.
In addition, LGBT community members seem loathe to recognize that oppositional politics exist within their own community. If pro-LGBT religious or conservative communities are actually given publicity, they are not only treated as random anomalies, but are posited as model minorities for otherwise discriminatory religious and conservative groups. In other words, they are what Christians, Catholics, Republicans, Jews, Muslims or anyone else should be in the eyes of the LGBT and their allies.
Perhaps the issue we should question is the relation -- or, conversely, the separation -- of sexuality and politics. As both openly gay and a political and social conservative, I find my politics certainly have reference to my sexuality and are thus not mutually exclusive from it, but my politics are not defined by my sexuality.
If the LGBT community is to define their politics by their sexualities and genders, so be it. But they should not foreclose the possibility of political identities existing outside of traditional LGBT narratives the community so fiercely defends. Otherwise, conservative/religious/non-radical/anti-militant/anti-pride LGBT folk will continue to feel disenfranchised from the community.
If the LGBT community wants to get anything done, politically or socially, it’s time for them to rid their politics of a “pro-LGBT/LGBT-hating” binary and to accept that opposition, namely moral opposition, is rational and should be treated equally. Acceptance in a democracy is not a right given to you through legislation, but rather a reciprocated social practice.
So LGBT community, quit stifling your opposition, put some clothes on and talk real politics. Otherwise, expect more of the same.