Sunday, 11 March 2012

"Those to Whom it Matters Most"

One more article before I get to work.

In "Gay rights and religion are not opposed to one another," Petra Davis begins by talking about the false binary that much of the same-sex marriage debate has formed:
Lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are as diverse, culturally, as any other group, with many from faith communities among the throng. Gay columnists are quick to deploy generalisations about religious abuse, with little regard for those with complex cultural, sexual and gender identities. If the debate were led by those to whom it matters most - LGBT people of faith - it might well look significantly different.

She moves quickly from this topic to the other issues around which LGBT people might want to organize: say, mental illness or homelessness in the LGBT community. These seem to be more pressing issues that equal marriage rights. Why are they not being addressed? By the end of the article she becomes a bit alarmist--I'm not sure I would want to use the phrase "a new queer fascism"--but barring the final paragraph, it's a good read.

A few disconnected thoughts: the LGBT people of faith may not be leading the conversation because, by now, their voices are thoroughly overwhelmed. I do not imagine that they can speak easily in their religious communities (though that's changing); I don't know enough about LGBT circles, but I imagine there might be silencing there, as well. So asking why the conversation is not being led by them strikes me as a little naive: they have good reason of fearing being outed (as queer or as religious) to either community. But we should also try to avoid the "silent victims" trope, which can re-enforce their victimhood and cast us (whoever we are) as necessary saviours for them. (Avatar, Dances with Wolves, The Blind Side, The Help, etc. etc.)

And perhaps the focus is on marriage rights because those are easier to fix than homelessness, mentall illness, and so forth. It has clear victory conditions. Focusing on the Marriage Front allows one to identify enemies (those who oppose legislation) and easily select tools (lobbying, legal-drafting, etc.) to win that campaign. The other arenas are more serious, but finding out who is blocking you and selecting the best means to acheive your goals are a lot harder when you're combatting increased incidents of mental illness in LGBT people. That daunting (and less clearly adversarial) campaign makes it difficult to draw media attention, financial backers, and public support. It also involves other categories of oppression (ie. mental illness, neurotypicality), which makes delineating your "sides" a lot harder.

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