A Perfect Example, Unfortunately

You know how sometimes you've been sitting with and chewing on and exploring a subject for a few days, maybe trying to communicate an idea you feel deep in your gut or understand intuitively, something that you don't even know how to fully explain, and then something comes along to perfectly make your point for you?

Sometimes that's a really good thing. And sometimes it makes you want to put your fist through a wall.

Especially if what you were trying to explain is why a really common behavior totally sucks.

Shaker rrp, who yesterday wrote a really excellent post about appropriation of the civil rights movement by people who are not African-American, and how that appropriation has a tendency to imply that the civil rights movement is not ongoing and contemporarily relevant but complete and historical, just sent me the below image…

That's the cover of The Advocate's December 16, 2008 issue. If you can't see the image, or can't believe your eyes, it says: "Gay is the New Black: The Last Great Civil Rights Struggle." Kumbaya, bitchez.

And the reason I'm blogging this is because rrp is currently indisposed, cleaning the plaster off her fingers.

[Let me make crystal clear, this is not about "the LGBTQI community." This is specifically about The Advocate and very loosely about the part of the LGBTQI community it most directly serves, which is demographically similar to the most visible LGBTQI political leaders, who are, at present, disproportionately white, male, cisgender, wealthy, and able-bodied.]

For those of you just joining us, the disproportionately white, male, cisgender, wealthy, and able-bodied leadership of the LGBTQI rights movement have been criticized for, oh, about three decades now, a lack of outreach to and inclusion of people of color, women, trans people, working class LGBTQIs, and/or the disabled.

This subject, particularly with regard to race, has very recently come to a head once again as black voters in California were (wrongly) accused of being primarily responsible for the passage of Prop 8, even as the narrative of the civil rights movement was widely appropriated in discussions of the initiative.

That makes the cover of a prominent national gay magazine reading "Gay is the New Black: The last great civil rights struggle" exceedingly, uh, unproductive. Suffice it to say, if The Advocate's idea of outreach to people of color, whether queer or not, is to declare racism done and dusted, they needn't be surprised when POC give them the finger.

Calling the gay rights movement "the last great civil rights struggle" is exactly what I was talking about in comments yesterday: When you relegate any rights movement to the dustbin of history, as if everything has been tied into a neat little bow of perfect equality, instead of regarding the movement as the ongoing, living, breathing, still-significant, still-necessary struggle that it is, it's effectively a declaration of not being your ally, because if there's "nothing left to accomplish," if there's no struggle, there's no need for allies.

That's not a very effective strategy for motivating people who are your natural allies by virtue of their own civil rights struggle (or shared, depending on one's possible intersectionalities) to stand alongside you.

Neither is disappearing their struggles altogether, aside from stepping on it to declare your struggle its successor.

That is some serious fuckery, right there.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus