Fannie Fierce

Apathetic Activists!

Filed By Fannie Fierce | November 02, 2007 11:08 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: gay marriage

Dear Fannie,

I'm a twenty-something living in Boston. As recently as spring 2007, I was a part of the movement to protect gay marriage in Massachusetts. Now that that battle seems to be won, I'm kind of at a loss as to how to be a queer-friendly activist.

--Forced into Apathy by Gay-Friendly Massachusetts

FIABGFM,

Now that gays and lesbians are now allowed to access to exclusive institutions historically held by a hypocritical heterosexual majority in the great state of Massachusetts, you got nothing left to fight for? I think that your question is indicative of another problem with this mainstream "LGBT" push for gay marriage. Something I like to call Post-homonuptial depression, or the Gay Marriage blues. I am going to assume that you do not consider yourself queer, (as indicated by your qualifier: "queer-friendly") and I would make the argument that you are actually more "Gay-Friendly" than "queer friendly," as your pseudonym suggests. Because while marriage is great if you are a monogamous affluent gay or lesbian white couple, it doesn't actually make great strides for everyone in our here & queer community.

Your question, FIABGFM, is actually very timely. Marti Abernathy recently commented on Mass Equality's internal discussion on possibly disbanding due to having achieved the pan-ultimate success of marriage equality. To equate gay marriage with true social justice for queer people is a gross miscalculation. Not only does it promulgate the hierarchy of (affluent) gays and lesbians over other queer people; but also marginalize trans and gender variant queer people. What Mass Equality and many gay-marriage-focused "LGBT" activists continue to miss is that gay marriage only benefits one section of our community.

Marriage forces families to fit a western model of the distinct nuclear family, with two parents (arguably one parent, as most dual-partnered couples tend to be inegalitarian when it comes to childcare), and uninterrupted rigid and hierarchical kinship systems. It also constrains sexuality by allowing marriage to further regulate sexual contact not only between heterosexuals, but now homosexuals as well. Rather, we should be advocating for family models that have less regulation and allow for different and varying familial configurations. But, you have all heard my oppositions to gay marriage in previous posts. I want to focus on the positive and how FIABGFM can truly be a queer activist.

One thing is for sure, FIABGFM, there is plenty of work still to be done in hurdling the obstacles the queer community continues to face. Most notably, trans rights have been increasingly trounced upon. Currently, to be transsexual, one must also be considered mentally ill (pathologization via Gender Disphoria and Gender Identity Disorder), exposed to discrimination and violence in everyday interactions (trans protections were removed from the proposed ENDA bill and only within the past year have trans people begun to be covered by federal hate crimes legislation), and continued misrepresentation by people from feminist, medical, psychological, and policy camps.

In addition, the HIV/AIDs epidemic continues to be a major concern amongst gay men. In 2006, Men who have sex with men (MSM) comprised almost 50% of new infections. While, this is a notable decrease from the early years of the epidemic, MSM continue to be grossly overrepresented in these numbers. In fact, since 2000, the rate of HIV infection amongst MSM has risen rather than fallen.

So basically, you shouldn’t feel apathetic, FIABGFM… winning marriage rights was a great accomplishment and certainly benefits some members of our community. But even Massachusetts is far from the egalitarian utopia that so many in the Gay mainstream seem to present it as.


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MassEquality sent out this email last night after their board meeting:

This afternoon, the Board of Directors met to make a final decision about the future goals and mission of MassEquality. This followed a comprehensive and inclusive strategic planning process, including meetings with local and national LGBT leaders, donors, and other stakeholders, a community forum, and a survey of more than 3,000 members.

Our top priority is and will always be protecting marriage equality in Massachusetts. To that end, we'll be working hard in 2008 to re-elect all of the 151 legislators who voted with us on June 14th and to add to the ranks of our friends in the legislature.

In addition, MassEquality will now extend its reach in two critical ways, including sharing its expertise and resources in the region to secure marriage beyond our borders.

- Working with GLAD, national organizations and other marriage equality organizations, MassEquality will support other states in securing equal marriage rights. This work will include consulting as needed on political, field, fundraising, electoral and communications efforts; helping other marriage organizations build their internal capacities; and developing and exporting a "Best Practices" manual developed by our staff.

- MassEquality will begin to advocate for and assist on other issues of LGBT equality in Massachusetts. We're looking forward to beginning partnerships with LGBT organizations which request our help to advance important and critical work. We will need the help of you, our advocates, and our affiliate organizations around the state to be successful in this undertaking.

Thank you for your thoughtful comments and suggestions throughout this process. We've received an enormous amount of support for these expanded goals - from other LGBT organizations, from our close allies in the legislature, and, most importantly, from all of you. We're thankful for your trust and dedication.

Over the next few weeks, we will be in touch with more details about our new agenda and how you can help.

Here at MassEquality, we are all incredibly excited about these next big steps - and we're ready to get to work! We hope that you are, too, and that you will join us in these important new endeavors.

Sincerely,

Marc Solomon
Campaign Director

It's too vague for me to care right now, but they say that they're going to help other states and other issues. So there ya go.

From the Boston Globe:

Gunner Scott, who cochairs the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, which is working on a transgender bill now before the Legislature, said his small, all-volunteer group is ill-equipped to lead a major State House lobbying effort and would benefit dramatically from the staff and expertise of MassEquality.

It's ironic that Mass Equality is searching for a mission, when Transsexual people in Massachusetts have no more rights there now than they did 50 years ago. It's almost as if MassEquality are GLB not GLBT.

From Mass Equality Forgets To Come Back For Transgender People? :

It’s pathetic that a money and resource rich organization like MassEquality can’t seem to find a mission now that the marriage fight is over with, while the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition teeters on the verge of financial collapse. It’s pathetic that not one person from Mass Equality joined in MTPC’s lobby days. If now is not the time for the GLB community of Massachusetts to stand with the transgender community, when will it be?

You can see why some are sceptical about the "incremental approach" in ENDA.

Still, the important thing is to do something, even if it is GLB-only. And in another state.

Fannie's right. The LGBT community has a long way to go, in Massachusetts or elsewhere.

If you're still specifically interested in the freedom to marry, there's lots of ways to help out people in other states. For example, the Let California Ring campaign is doing some really cool work, and they can always use your help. (www.LetCaliforniaRing.org)

The marriages in Massachusetts will be all the stronger if they are recognized and valued across the country!

Zoe is right help us in the Trans community get our rights if your realy our friend and not worry about what to do next now that you have yours.Im in Georgia and everyone needs help getting a bill passed so theres lots of ways you can still help the cause.

Cathy