Alex Blaze

Bash Back disagrees with calling vandalism "homophobic"

Filed By Alex Blaze | November 17, 2009 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Bash Back, lesbian, LGBT, lgbtq, love, Memphis, military, peace, queer, Tennessee, transgender

Yasmin Nair emailed me a link with the subject: "I think you called this when it first happened..."

Back in September, a Memphis billboard put up by the LGBT community center went from this:

billboardscreenshot.jpg

To this:

billboardlabelle.jpg

Folks were quick to point to homophobes, but now the queer group Bash Back, which garnered attention for its confrontational protest in a Michigan church, is claiming credit* saying the vandalism wasn't anti-gay.

I posted back when it happened that there was also a chance that pro-peace protestors tore down the billboard. Saying that the military "protects your freedom," without any explanation or nuance, is the pro-war crowd's slogan. Whether its air raids killing civilians in Afghanistan, an invasion of a country that posed no threat to the US, the continued occupation of that country that's killed over a million of its citizens, torture, indefinite detention without charges or trials, extraordinary rendition, handing over suspects to other countries to be detained, tortured, and possibly murdered.... When the US engages in unnecessary acts of war and war crimes, the phrase "protecting your freedom" is inevitably trotted out to justify the war hawks' most ridiculous and dangerous desires.

You see, it's hard to justify a bloated defense budget and military operations that waste money and lives while building global hatred towards the US and increasing suffering of everyone except for the insulated politicians, conservative polemicists, and elites who enjoy reading about battles in the news without people living in fear that Saddam Hussein is about to march into DC and take over the US.

Responses to that post included the normal round of "noun, verb, 9/11," as if the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have done anything but increase recruitment of terrorist organizations and antipathy towards America. As if destroying over a million lives will save people's lives. As if, in the eight years since 9/11, the war hawks were actually concerned with catching the perpetrators of 9/11, who are still on the run as two countries were destroyed.

Personally, I'm against DADT. It's bad policy, it's racist and sexist in addition to being homophobic, and it needlessly disrupts working people's lives. It's government-subsidized job discrimination. But the billboard went beyond just arguing against DADT and made an explicit pro-war message.

Imagine, for instance, a billboard erected to promote tolerance of latin@s. It shows a young, Mexican straight couple, man in a tux and woman in a white dress, standing in front of a priest. Written under it is the sentence: "We're Hispanic and we adhere to God's natural law." Would that be read as pro-latin@ or homophobic?

Here's Bash Back's statement:

The gay "community" was so "outraged", of course they had to do something;staged a prayer vigil on National Coming Out Day, to pray for the individual(s) who carried out this "gruesome act of homophobia", as well as throwing in some veiled racist remarks that hinted that "the black community hates the gay comminity"; as if they are mutually exclusive.

I'm here to dispute the claim that this action was an anti-gay act.

First, sending gays to be military fodder is NOT pro-gay or conclusive whatsoever to gay liberation. State militarism only reinforces the dominant structures, and the racism/heterosexism they perpetuate, as well as reducing the number of gay people in the world (both those in Amerikkka and the countries Amerikkka is colonizing/conquering).

Second, we accuse the MGLCC of being flat out racist/anti-queer/anti-trans; and we furiously question how that the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center can squander $3500 on military billboards, when Memphis has the highest trans-murder rate (11 trans women of color, 1 white transwoman and 1 transman of color), as well as one of the highest queer youth homeless rates in the nation, and how they can justify putting a pro-military billboard in the overwhelmingly POC neighborhood of Morris Park, when the poor Black community in Morris Park is disporportionately preyed upon by the military (through the court system's "prison or military service" rule for minor felonies as well as recruiters' false promises of otherwise impossible economic/education opportunities)?

Will we stop hearing about how we all have the same goal, just a different means of getting there? There are real ideological fault lines among LGBTQ people, and just because we're lacking some incredibly basic protections and rights doesn't mean that we agree on everything.

*Updated, because, as Aidan pointed out in the comments, they didn't exactly claim credit. I posted the statement above, so you can decide for yourselves what to make of it, but I changed the title since saying that Bash Back "claimed credit" is a big statement and has a precise meaning, and their exact wording didn't go there.

I apologize.


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Sticky wicket, this one. But all in all I would say that the original bill board was well intentioned from the perspective of those who put it up.
But it does outline our differences within the community.

I agree about the differences. It's sad that some of the activist factions can't bring themselves to respect the differing views of other GLBT people. A faction may hate and despise the military, but they should respect the desire of those LGBT people who want to serve in uniform.

And if the draft is ever restored (which it might be), then the anti-military crowd won't have much of a podium to stand on.

"And if the draft is ever restored (which it might be), then the anti-military crowd won't have much of a podium to stand on."

Why not? The anti-military crowd were not silent even where there was a draft. And, be that as it may, the existence of a draft does not mean that no one can protest the military. If anything, it's all the more reason to do so.

I wouldn't have torn down the billboard, but at 37 I'm getting old ~shrug~

I think civil disobedeience is a great tool, but not by violence or detroying property.

Interesting read though.

It certainly shows that the LGBTQ "leaders" are out of touch with the LGBTQ community. Over the past year a broader and more diverse LGBTQ community has found their voice... We were always there but we never had the kind of money to attract the attention of our "leaders"...

I don't know that you can say they claimed to do it, because they never claimed anything. They argued whether it was anti-gay or not.

And maybe the claim is in the We accuse... either way I think it's an interesting agruement and the use of funds with so many other problems a show of where donors and many large local, state and national organizations seem to set their priorities.

But the billboard went beyond just arguing against DADT and made an explicit pro-war message.

I am baffled that that you, Alex, and the rest of the Bilerico politboro cannot see a difference between Afghanistan and Iraq (admittedly mistaken, tragic, and unnecessary wars) and legitimate examples of protecting America's freedom (such as, say, scrambling the fighter jets in the event that NYC or Pearl Harbor ever gets attacked again by air --- yes, Alex you guessed it, 9/11 blah blah blah --- I suppose that when the second plane was heading for the second tower, we should instead have called Louise Hay and Marianne Williamson to "reason" with the terrorists?).

But then, you have figured out long ago that I am a cock-sucking version of Rush Limbaugh. In truth, I might complain about the enormous military budget, but I would also complain about the 16% of GDP that America pays out to support a health care "system" that doesn't work for 45 million Americans.

The only thing I would have changed about the billboard is that it should have said, "... and I helped protect your freedom" since no one soldier can do the whole program by himself, six-inch brass balls or no.

To me, the frustration with "I protect your freedom" is not just about the effectiveness of military actions. But when was the last time there was any military action that actually had anything to do with freedom. The US government never willingly gave freedom to anyone. Activists have had to struggle, push, fight, and die for every one of the freedoms I hold dear -- historically and present day the military has been a force to defend inequity and oppression. By following the orders of whoever is in charge, they enforce the status quo and stand in opposition to whatever movement for equality trying to change the status quo.

Could the military have scrambled to protect us from 9/11? Possibly. But that also brings up the question of why the attack happened in the first place? Why was the US a target? While it's not reasonable to just take them at their word, it's worth noting that the stated motivation was the US military presence in the middle east.

But ultimately, the question of whether the military protects our lives or endangers them by inflaming our enemies is irrelevant to the question of whether or not it protects our freedom. Even in cases where the military might save my life, they are still acting to take away my freedom. And those who would trade liberty for life deserve neither.

To claim that it is the military who fights and dies for our freedom is an insult to everyone who died fighting jim crow, who faced torture while fighting for suffrage, or who has been beaten or raped by military and/or law enforcement while demanding the right to exist.

Could the military have scrambled to protect us from 9/11? Possibly. But that also brings up the question of why the attack happened in the first place? Why was the US a target?

Tobi, your points are intelligent, but I intended to speak only about the military here. It is the duty of the military to provide the immediate defense, such as scrambling the fighters. It is not solely the military's duty to ask the questions you bring up --- why they attacked us, and what we can do to defuse or rectify the situation --- questions such as those are ultimately a function of the White House and, to a lesser extent, Congress.

My problem with Alex's original statement is that it is overly anti-military. The military does harm, the military fucks up royally sometimes, but my point is that sometimes it does good, and in any event it is a necessary evil. I agree the US government has some destructive, and sometimes even idiotic, forms of group-think operating in its midst, but to put the entire blame on the military is putting too fine a point on things. With all the incompetence in Washington DC, there is plenty of blame to go around to other units of government as well.

A.J.,

I certainly agree the military isn't solely to blame for oppression. But it is an effective tool for maintaining it. Now I'll say, that like Alex, I can separate out the institution of the military from the people in it. I can oppose DADT, support veterans access to health care and other rights, and still oppose the military.

Sure, the president was giving the orders, but isn't he part of the military as the commander in chief? Even if not, part of my complaint is who's orders the military is designed to follow and that our political leadership is almost by definition defenders of the status quo, especially when it comes to maintaining institutional oppression. I disagree that it is a necessary evil. Sure, given the situation we are in it would be dangerous to abolish the military in a day or even a couple of years. I don't have the answers of how to make the transition, but I do see alternative models for providing for the safety of people in the country. They have been done before. In the meantime, though, there's no reason not to reign in the power of the military, end unilateral wars of choice, end no-bid billion dollar contracts to war profiteers, abandon a few hundred overseas military bases and stop using the military as a panacea fix-everything tool. Because when you've only got a hammer in your toolbox, everything looks like a nail.

Diplomacy might not have prevented 9/11 after we had fucked everyone over. But if we hadn't fucked everyone over to begin with (not to mention training terrorists around the world in the hopes they would do our dirty work), then perhaps it might not have been thought up to begin with. If we stopped hurting people outside our country, a military defense of our country wouldn't need to be nearly so large.

Obviously you're not the gay Rush Limbaugh - I don't think you've done enough oxycontin. :)

Seriously, though, I think we ought to have, when the second plane hit, thought about a) doing what we can do to prevent the development of anti-american radialism throughout the world, and b) bringing the people who perpetrated the attack to justice, or at least their accomplices who were still alive. We did neither - instead, we blindly sent out the military to kill people living in the same country as the perpetrators did or of the same skin color/religion as the perpetrators.

To me, that doesn't qualify as "protecting your freedom." No, having absolutely no military isn't what I'm advocating, but the military's missions are so detached from actual freedom protection right now that it's just dishonest to say that the only thing they do is protect freedom.

we've done nothing post-9/11 to prevent another one other than tighten security and decrease freedom at airports, which isn't the military. The actions that our military itself did, like invade two countries and kill over a million people, endangered our freedom.

None of this is an attack on people in the military, to be clear. I know a few and they're generally good people. This is about the way the government and powerful people use and exploit them for its own purposes.

You are right about the oxycontin --- my drug of choice is Vicodin.

We did neither - instead, we blindly sent out the military to kill people living in the same country as the perpetrators did or of the same skin color/religion as the perpetrators. ... To me, that doesn't qualify as "protecting your freedom." No, having absolutely no military isn't what I'm advocating, but the military's missions are so detached from actual freedom protection right now that it's just dishonest to say that the only thing they do is protect freedom.

I never said the only thing they do is protect freedom --- in truth, the military is the tool of the executive, and history is clear that the White House will use the military in any way that it perceives (or can argue) as promoting "the best interests" of the US. "The best interests" go far beyond protecting freedom, including a lot of economic concerns such as availability of oil and stimulating American industry, and that is often where the improper uses of the military develop.

So to that extent I do agree with you.

I am baffled that that you, Alex, and the rest of the Bilerico politboro cannot see a difference between Afghanistan and Iraq (admittedly mistaken, tragic, and unnecessary wars)

First they voted for the war when they voted for Obama.

Secondly, Afghanistan and Iraq are not mistakes. They're part of the effort to increase the profits of US oil companies and military suppliers.

Third, the proximate and major cause of the vicious anti-civilian terrorist attacks of 9-11 was Bush’s abandonment of the Palestinians to the tender mercies of the zionists.

http://www.counterpunch.org/kchristison0715.html is a link to a July 15, 2002 article by Kathleen Christison titled The History of Anti-Palestinian Bias from Wilson to Bush. Christison worked for the CIA as a political analyst for 17 years and resigned in 1979.

http://www.counterpunch.org/weiner0731.html is a link to the early history of Bush’s public abandonment of Palestinians and the rage it produced in the muslim world in Bernard Weiner’s July 31, 2002 article 20 Things We've Learned Nearly a Year After 9/11, Weiner taught American politics and international relations at Western Washington University and San Diego State University and was with the San Francisco Chronicle for nearly 20 years.

Thanks for this, Alex -- for both your analysis and for posting the Bash Back statement.

A Bash Back member was also implicated in an attack on the Colorado Democratic Party offices earlier this year, initially assumed to have been performed by right-wing tea partiers. Oh, and they also attempted to take credit for an attack on the HRC headquarters.

Which side does Bash Back think they're on, again? Because whatever they think they're doing, they consistently act in ways literally indistinguishable from the homophobic right-wing tea party set, to the point that the rest of the world and media actually reports them as such. This isn't gay activism. This is gay bashing.

It isn't _gay_ activism.
It's _queer_ activism.
The difference is quite important to Bash Back, which is probably why they're targeting Democrats and the HRC.

No no no no no. They are specifically targeting for violence people who are fighting for my rights as a queer person. That is not queer activism. And it isn't trans activism, it isn't gay activism, it isn't anything. What they call themselves does not matter, everything they say is word salad.

When you stick your fingers in your ears and say "no no no no no no," it isn't surprising that any disagreement with you on the goals of queer activism sounds like "word salad" to you.

I kinda agree with the "word salad" sentiment. I was thinking about this on the metro earlier, just after writing this on the way to my job - radical folk literally do have their own language, with lots of "amerikkka"s and "conquering" and "dominant structures" et c. I think there is a language to these sorts of people that is easy for lots of Americans to write off, which is why the left in the past several years has developed new ways to talk about the same issues.

If you're not familiar with the vocabulary or the writing style, it might sound like word salad.

mcc,

I don't think Bash Back! or any other queer activists I know would believe that HRC et al are fighting for anyone's rights (and that individualistic notion of rights is itself a suspect one). They (HRC and company) are fighting for a larger slice of the status quo, but not for anyone's rights.

There are queer radicals for whom the pallid politics of HRC and the Democrats have little to do with the reality of the violence they face as queer people. To denounce Bash Back! and others like its members as homophobic gay bashers is reductive and even dangerous; such a careless comment ignores the reality of what Bash Back! members themselves might face and the reasons for their actions.

I think that's what Alex's post is getting at: not everyone in the "LGBTQ" community has the same political agenda. The fact that not all queers share your politics or that of HRC does not automatically make them homophobes.

But my problem here is that they are targeting internally within the community.
I don't like HRC so I leave them alone mostly though I do occasionally address their positions and rhetoric. But I don't target them for violence.
I'm not categorically opposed to the use of violence when it becomes necessary but I don't aim it at people in the community with which I disagree. I will use violence when other options are exhausted but only in defense.
To destroy other LGBT activists property and projects is IMO unacceptable. I have a queer identity and I am not happy with the direction of most LGBT political organizations, so I do nothing to actively support those organizations but I also will not attack their property and projects.

I don't think BB identifies with what many would identify as "the community." Actually, I'm pretty sure I can state that for a fact. I don't think a lot, a lot of radical queers would identify with "the community."

I also don't see property defacement as violence - as Tobi points out above, there's a big difference between bones and blood being broken and spilt and paint and glitter being splashed on walls. And a billboard being carefully torn down.
It's critical to recognise that there is no one "community" - a lot of people, far more than the mainstream would want to acknowledge, have long felt like they neither belong nor want to belong to this fictitious community.

The radical section of the queer community has been and will continue to do its political and social work. The problem now is that it's groups like HRC that are infringing upon radical work by sucking away resources and time; it's not the other way around.

See, I can't agree that HRC is sucking away resources that should go to more radical activist. While I don't like HRC they are doing what they think is right and their donors are donating to them based on what they are doing.
I do what I think is right as I am sure do you yourself. I aim my money into causes that I support when I can.
I do appreciate your bringing to my attention that some of these more radical queers do not see themselves as part of a community and do not even see there being a community. A strong point and one that I was not cognizant of.
That may explain some significant portions of why I do not operate this way and why they do. Gods know I don't mind raising hell and I do so within what I see as a fractious community by trying to educate/motivate the factions toward my views. But that rests on my view of myself as operating within a fractious community.

An awful lot of people donate to HRC not because of HRC's specific accomplishments or goals, but because they've successfully cultivated the image of being THE gay rights organization (or LGBT org if they bother to pretend to be inclusive). Pay attention to how often they call themselves "the largest"--it's always what they lead with. They continue to suck in the attention and resources because they're already big and have claimed the title of default LGBT group, not because people specifically choose to support their mission and tactics. It's branding over substance.

Part of what radical queer groups are doing when they target HRC and its ilk is revealing the lie of that "We're the largest, so we speak for the whole community" narrative that lures in donors.

But it is the methodology of the targeting that makes the difference for me. I target HRC with arguments and I give voice to the fact that they do not represent me. And I tell people what they are and are not.
I will not spray paint their buildings or engage in the destruction of their property or their signs.

E is right and spot on about HRC's tactics. As for "destruction of property" - I can't speak for BB! but I do know that part of what's in contestation here is the whole notion of private property versus the property of the state.

There's a much bigger conversation to be had, but perhaps not here, about the whole "public-private" division, and the fact that part of what radical energy is focused around is the neoliberal and capitalist idea that property belongs to specific individuals. But the public-private divide, used also to bolster the notion that marriage is simply a private contract that grants individual rights and happiness to two people in love, is exactly what's most ruinous about the framing of such debates. Positing marriage as a private act ignores the devastating ways in which the state in fact delimits basic rights and benefits based on marital and familial status.

That kind of problematising of public vs. private is also what comes into play here, with the HRC building being splattered with glitter and paint. We could say that the building is the private property of HRC. Or we could see that the building is in fact built by the vast resources of a community that HRC does not hesitate to plumb for money even as it deliberately ignores particular members or even puts their lives in jeopardy - Tobi's comment about HRC calling the cops on trans protesters is especially pertinent here. If we keep that in mind, the distinction between private and public fades from view.

I don't want to go into too many circles here about the "radical" versus the "rest," except to point out that even that distinction is as problematic as the public-private distinction. I do want to point out that it's important to keep in mind that this kind of insurrectionary spirit is by no means simply a byproduct of people being ignored, or of some queers having fallen off because of some original sin moment where we/they were cast off from the Garden of Marriage. I think it's really important to remember that queer radical energy is in fact part of the queer movement's history, not separate from it. If anything, we could argue, with sound historical rationale even, that it's gay marriage that's the real aberration in queer history.

mcc,

Is it really all so reductionist as "the enemy of my friend is my enemy"? It's not just you're either with us or against us. What are we to make of it when people advocating for our rights get attacked by people advocating for our rights. It happens more often then you think. Whether it's the HRC having trans protesters arrested and subjected to prison violence or the SF LGBT Center calling the cops in to beat up queers who oppose Newsom's campaign against queer homeless youth, it seems like certain "gay" advocates have been targeting queers with violence for a long time.

And can we make a distinction between destruction of property and physical violence? None of the instances you cite left anyone bloodied or bruised or with long term damage. The same thing cannot be said of "gay" attacks targeting queers.

Ladyiconoclast, what Bash Back is doing isn't activism of any sort. It's just petty vandalism that accomplishes nothing and just ends up handing ammo to our enemies.

But it's pretty much what I've come to expect from "queers": A bunch of nonsensical, pseudo-intellectual, PC baby talk and "radical" actions that hurt us rather than actually accomplishing anything.

Your opinion of the military and war is irrelevant. Keeping us out of the military will do absolutely nothing to stop the war in Iraq or Afghanistan or reduce the role of militarism in American society. At the same time, it represents yet another way in which we are subject to a different set of laws from straight people.

One of the best cures for homophobia is knowing that we're just as human as anyone else and aren't the sick, child-molesting bogeymen that the religious right makes us out to be. Whatever drivers' opinion of the war and military, that billboard would have shown that to a lot of people.

But now, Bash Back has committed an action that lends legitimacy to those who would silence us while doing virtually nothing to change anyone's minds about war, militarism or, most of all, us.

In short, Bash Back are fucking morons and so are all the other "radical queers" who support them.

Just to clarify, when I said "Your opinion about the war and militarism," I meant "your" in the proverbial sense, as in "one's opinion."

What about radical queers who do not support them? I find that your attack of them as people is troubling. Perhaps it is because the more radical and queer fringe of the movement has been dismissed and invalidated that has driven some to this extreme action against other members of our community.

you may disagree with my opinions, my statements, actions or my choice of friends,
but at least I'm not mean.
You are.

Remember when gays liked the Democrats? That seems like a long time ago.

The Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center is right. They were attacked by a group of homophobes - Bash Back.

"Queer" politics bear no relation to LGBT politics. Bash Back and their ilk abuse LGBT people in the deluded service of their own incomprehensible goals. Just look at the statement in their nonadmission of guilt. They describe the marine as "straight-presenting". Um, those of us in the reality based community would note that the statement "I'm Gay" is possibly the least "straight presenting" statement anyone could make.

The nonsense continues as the screed "accuses" the MGLCC of being "racist/anti-queer/anti-trans" because this billboard had a white person and did not address the murder in Memphis of 14 transgender people, which the MGLCC has taken the lead pressuring for these murders not to be ignored.

As re "ant-queer", I have no idea where the MGLCC stands. I do know I am anti-queer. I deeply resent heterosexual women who pose as lesbians to belittle our lives, straight men who claim superiority because they are not "heteronormative" in where they get laid, "gender-queers" whose theatrics mock the real struggle of transgender people to access their authentic lives and mostly, the disgusting racist fetishization of minorities as though all LGBT people were white.

There are two more things to note. I remember when "Bash Back" was a group of mostly lesbians and many gays defending our community against attacks. Anyone else remember the Lesbian Avengers; they were powerful women. And you should follow the link to the Bash Back blog and study the faces carefully. Looks pretty white under the lavender scarves.

Woah! Can we hold up here. I'm not sure you know what those words mean. Or maybe you do and you're trying to make a point. Either way, your frustration with Bash Back (which didn't actually claim responsibility for the vandalism) should not be taken out on random bystanders who happen to be queer.

It's completely inappropriate to claim that queer men and women are really straight and just pretending to be gay or lesbian. Maybe you're referencing someone in particular, but this sentiment reeks of biphobia to me. Additionally, how many genderqueers do you know? I am very close with around 40, about half of which are physically transitioning/transitioned. Genderqueer is a separate identity from trans. One can be genderqueer and trans, genderqueer and not trans, trans and not genderqueer, or neither. I'm both trans and genderqueer and I am certainly not a mockery of my own real struggle.

I'd be up for a reasoned discussion on the reasoning and the flaws of Bash Backs statement, but I can't do that when I'm feeling slandered here based on my sexual orientation and gender identity. There's a lot of queer folks here, are you really "anti" all of us? You might feel hurt, but hurting others who have nothing to do with this is not going to help.

I agree with Tobi. So you don't like Bash Back? Fine. You don't like them. But where do you get off telling queer people that we're deluded in our own understanding of ourselves? Just how is telling us that we're "really" straight people out to belittle lesbians, claim superiority over gay men, and mock trans people's struggles helpful at all?

It's pretty obvious you don't understand what queer identities represent or why we might be dissatisfied with the direction that your mainstream gay activism is taking, so why not close your mouth before you stuff your foot farther in than it already is?

Can you address issues rather than people. You seem to be identifying people and hammering categories. Some of this seems to be aimed at bi people for not being gay enough or genderqueer people for not being trans.
This really sounds more like the old "pick a team' approach.
Seems more like you have decide what the right kind of LGBT person is.
Do you understand how offensive this could be to some of us who might not fit into your chalk outline?

Well, Rob. What my partner Megan is saying that the majority of the community doesn't accept genderqueer people as they are and that the majority tries to put genderqueer people in their chalk outline. Nice try, trying to turn that sentiment on it's head. Didn't work with me.

Just to be clear I think the vandalism is a bad idea. I think it's purile and doesn't help one's cause. It makes one's group look like lawless thugs. If you've got a beef you speak truth to power, you don't tear down a sign. It's childish, no matter how much it makes your blood boil.

Megan is my love and my right arm. But to be honest I don't understand the whole genderqueer thing myself and I've been with Megan for five years. What I do undertsand is when someone says they identify as genderqueer you at very least respect their image of themselves and try to put yourself in their shoes. You don't just write them off as weird, or not in the program.

I don't understand being GQ, but I respect it.
I had to try so hard to be who I am now I can't understand why you would to be either/or, or neither. But how would someone feel about someone born in an Male body needing a Female form? I mean, why would you want the hassle? Short, answer because that's who you are, and nothing else will do. I nearly died trying to be my true self. To all that I am.

All I know is Megan is a good person and if she were going to make me GQ like her, and her friend Tobi, I think she would have done it already. Nope. I'm still me. I'm still the TechChic. So, I don't think genderqueer people are trying to make the rest of us fit in their version of how things should be they just want a seat the table, and not the kiddie table either.

What team am I on?
I'm on Megan's team.
She's all I've got in this f'd up world.


My comments were in response to Kevin. I didn't in any way indict Megan or imply that genderqueer people were trying to make others genderqueer or that Megan was trying to change anyone or attack anyone.
Megan was dealing with issues which is what I wanted to ask Kevin to do without attacks aimed at identities.

Ok, that's cool. I was wondering where you were coming from, noe, I know.

Rob, when you say “Can you address issues rather than people?”, you're right. Let me start.

Queer is an offensive term. It's a derogatory slur aimed at LGBT people. Now I understand the counterintuitive “reclaiming” of the word Queer but it has been a failure. Queer is still the slur of choice.

Historically, and I was around for it, when Queer Nation arose in about 1990, it was a time of increased radicalization on the subject of LGBT rights, not a different social and political critique. At the time, we were pretty exhausted from the Reagan era and the daily crises of AIDS. While the use of a word, however offensive, seemed trivial but most of us were angry enough to look beyond that.

As Queer Nation faded, Queer became a marketing slogan and a cute TV title on one hand and on the other became a inchoate collection of postmodern drivel, sort of a parasite on the LGBT movement but for the most part irrelevant.

Lately however, it's re-emerging and it's offensive. It's an “anything but gay” closet space. Look at the discussions here and elsewhere and it's easy to see that a false opposition has been set up by people who call themselves “Queer”. LGBT people and our lives have meaning. That some are white, some middle class, some, well fill in the blank, is part of it. And our issues, real issues like access to legal protection for our families, employment, protection from targeting and other basic rights are consistently belittled by self identified “queers”.

Part of my anger at this comes from a recent posting where a group of queers thought it would be “sassy and fun” to mock my family, and the families of thousands of others, because we bring up children and want to be in a defined, legally recognized relationship and then added in for extra comic effect a riff on HIV orphans and took apparent offense at racially and ethnically mixed families.

Just look at the posting from Bash Back. It's a temper tantrum focused on an useful community center for LGBT people.

LGBT politics is not above criticism for any reason. It does matter that the criticisms make sense.

LGBT people cross all social lines – economic, class, education, race, language, ethnicity, religion, gender, political affiliation and social beliefs – and LGBT politics does and should focus on the single point to end the exclusion of LGBT from political protection and participation, and social exclusion.

That is not to say that other political issues are unworthy of discussion but these are outside the political reach of LGBT politics. Alex gets it right when he discusses the difference between opposition to military actions (broad political issue) and the effects of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (an LGBT issue.)

As regards your point, “This really sounds more like the old "pick a team' approach.”, it isn't or at least not intended to be. Bisexuality is a fact and the issues bisexuals face politically and socially are related to and often the same as lesbian and gay issues. Transgender people have faced heinous discrimination inside the LGBT movement and that requires constant addressing and vigilance. These issues are real.

But “queer” just blithely goes ahead and announces that “queer” somehow not only transcends LGBT but is superior to it. And it's not. It's a theatrical identity – gender queer in particular really bothers me. First create a false view of gender identity, then announce that because you don't fit in that identify, you are not trans but “gender queer”. No. It makes no sense and may be a fun personal description, but don't expect others to take it seriously, especially by those who are constantly kicked for their gender identity. The same thing goes for straight people who feel that they don't fit into something they label hetero-normative and this somehow gives them a special right to inform those of us who are persecuted for our LGB natures that our issues are trivial.

Queer politics are unrelated to LGBT politics and that would be fine but LGBT people and politics have become both a base and a target for “queers”. You can be as against current family structure as you would like, and we can discuss this, but don't trivialize and dismiss LGBT demands for inclusion. You can be as anti military or pro military as you would like, but that is a separate issue from discrimination against LGBT military members. When these stands are used to oppose and obstruct LGBT advances, they are every bit as offensive as other anti LGBT institutions populated by LGBT people. I refer here to the Catholic Church hierarchy, an almost exclusively gay male organization, ex-gay groups, and possibly US Senators (at least in So. Carolina). It's a double whammy.

So yeah, I stand by it. Queer is an offensive term to LGBT people and a meaningless identity which exploits the LGBT community.

Kevin, thank you for focusing more on the issues and explaining your view on them.
I would point out that Queer is an offensive term to you and to some other LGBT people but is not an offensive term to LGBT people in general. We are not all offended as are you. That is not to dismiss you feeling of being offended it is only to point out that you can't project that feeling onto the rest of us and should not assume that everyone else is offended or should be.
Your interpretation of the word queer is clear but please realize that it is not an absolute interpretation and others have differing views of it.
I think that through discourse we can exchange ideas and inform one another and all become better informed.

Queer may be an offensive term for you, and I don't discount the experiences that you've had that made it offensive for you. However, it isn't offensive to everybody; a lot of people in the community, including myself, have been denigrated and attacked using the word "gay" far more often than we've been attacked through the word "queer" (the use of "queer" as an attack by gay men like yourself notwithstanding). You may not call yourself queer, but realize that the people who do have their reasons for doing so.

Regarding your assertion that queer people go around blithely announcing their superiority to LGBT people, you seem to be painting the whole community based on the actions of a few. Of course there are people in the queer community that do so - no community is free of assholes. Should I go around denouncing the LGBT community for the few individuals in it that go around saying crap like "gay and lesbian people make better parents"? That would be stupid of me, and it's just as stupid of you to assume that the queer community as a whole has a superiority complex because a few of us do.

Also, what are you basing your assertion of "genderqueer is a theatrical identity" on? I don't regard my own identity or the identities of other genderqueer people that I know as particularly theatrical. Furthermore, I think that your idea of what "the genderqueer view on gender identity" is largely based on stereotypes from without the genderqueer community. Besides, who is to say what the "true" view of gender identity is? You? Me? The fact of the matter is, nobody has the right to tell anyone else that their view of gender is false. Again, a few assholes in the genderqueer community might do this, but again, it isn't a problem that any other communities are free of, either.

While I'm on the subject, I have a real problem with your assertion that genderqueer people never get kicked for their gender identities. You think that a bigot is going to take the time to ask a gender-variant person "wait a second...are you trans or genderqueer" before discriminating against them?" For that matter, do you think that most bigots are even capable of understanding that distinction? Also, as Tobi points out above, genderqueer and trans ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. I myself am both, and I can tell you from my personal experience that I haven't gotten any kind of free pass for being genderqueer. If anything, it's made things harder for me, because I can't just "pick a box."

Finally, I'd still like to know just where do you get off saying that queer people are "really" straight people? What are you basing this claim on...just how many queer sex lives have you studied to come to this conclusion? And how is this any less insulting than if some straight fundie told you that you're not really gay, just a straight person living in sin? As with gender identity, nobody has a right to tell anyone else what their sexuality is, and to do so just shows your prejudice.

Megan covered much of what I had in mind to say, but here are a few more things I wanted to address.

First, what makes you think the folks on the internet posting were being rude to you because they were queer rather then because it's the internet and it's full of folks ready to be jerks.

Second, I may have been harassed and discriminated against for being trans, but a death threat was made against me for being genderqueer. You seem to have ignored me earlier when I said they are not meant to be the same thing. It's incredibly disrespectful to tell genderqueer people, here in this internet posting with you, that our identity is a joke.

Third, it doesn't work to take a few individuals bad behavior and generalize it to the whole group. If I did that, then after our encounter I would have to assume all gay people are jerks who mock and insult queers and genderqueers. Perhaps I'd even go into another internet forum and vent about how horrible gays are (see the pattern?).

Fourth, much of the LGBT community is queer. Most if not all of the LGBT groups I work with welcome queer people, even adding a 'Q' to the acronym. Queer folks have done and are doing a lot for this movement. I'm beginning to really wonder if you have any idea what queer means to the people who use it as you seem to think it's only a term that straight people use for themselves. You might dislike queer folks you've knowingly met, but what about the folks you didn't know about. Perhaps you think genderqueer is a theatrical identity because when you meet genderqueers who aren't theatrical you never realize they are genderqueer. You can have your uninformed opinion, but don't pretend it's representative of the broader LGBT community.

Finally, are you really incapable of seeing the argument Bash Back is making or do you just prefer to dismiss it as a hysterical tantrum? It's legitimate to question an organization's prioritization of funds. When there's a significant crisis affecting trans people of color in your community and you don't commit resources to it, then large expenditures that further the military industrial complex and send pro-war messages are certainly fair game for criticism.

I don't have to agree that tearing down a billboard is a good choice (again, their statement doesn't actually claim responsibility for the vandalism) in order to believe it was a bad choice to spend so much money putting up an image of a white governmental enforcer "protecting your freedom" while at least one trans women of color was beaten and possibly killed, by governmental enforcers.

Amy McDonald | November 18, 2009 1:48 AM

This post for me is just another reminder of why lgbt rights issues seem to be heading in reverse.Talk about the republican party being fractured and over run by extremist.I'm not here to have my political beliefs trounced on or the fact that I might just happen to have a little more respect for the military then some of you who have never served or would never serve no matter what type of Country we lived in and it is your choice.I'm here to support lgbt rights in America and the world. It amazes me when it comes to political BS how short someones memory can become.The trade center was bombed once before 911 by Islamic radicals.Afghanistan has long been a safe haven for terrorist and no amount of negotiation would change it.We lost 3000 lives in the second attack and two very expensive buildings we're not talking spray paint and glitter or defacing a billboard.These same people that did this wouldn't think twice about dragging your ass out in the street and shooting,or stoning or cutting your head off for being lgbt.The President while not openly supporting gay marriage has stated he would sign all the bills that would lead the way up to it. There is an overwelming amount of stuff going on politically right now to expect instant gratification is naive at best.If the Democratic Party instantly passed lgbt legislation while overlooking everything else they would be failing the nation.He has signed hate crimes legislation and Enda was in view and I now have reason to wonder why it's been slowed down care to guess?

GLBT groups can be very wrong headed from time to time. Some support Republicans or Democrats. Some oppose same sex marriage rights. Some engage in vicious personal attacks on leaders of our movement. Some oppose giving asylum to GLBT refugees from US backed jihadists in Iraq and the killer ayatollahs of Iran. Whatever their errors, though, trashing their events or property is self-isolating, mindless ultraleftism of the kind described by Lenin in his booklet "Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder". It's uselessly sectarian and deeply divides parts of the movement that occasionally have to work together.

The truth is that the left will defeat the right wing, liberal part of our movement, including Democrats and their front groups like HRC and SLDN with our ideas. These groups are being steadily pulled to the right by their association with the Democrats and just as steadily discrediting themselves.

That said there can be no compromise on the question of the war. The only solution is immediate, total and permanent withdrawal of all US military, mercenary and CIA torturers from the region. We also have to cut the US funding of zionists who practice apartheid and ethnic cleansing against Palestinians. That was the immediate cause of 9-11 and continues to enrage the muslim world, although the US genocide in Iraq and mass murder in Afghanistan have eclipsed it.

It's correct for GLBT groups to point out that MGLCC is acting in an unprincipled fashion supporting the war or that SLDNs prowar stance as unprincipled as voting for Obama. Both of them are tacitly supporting polices that kill GIs and civilians from Pakistan to Palestine. Many of those GIs are gays and lesbians and large numbers of them are working people escaping the poverty caused by Clintons deregulation.

LGBT Democrats will continue to become isolated by being part of the party that supports Obama's efforts to sabotage our right to be married, the party that now solely responsible for the ongoing murder of GIs and civilians in South Asia and by being part of the party that busts unions while presiding over the greatest theft of wealth in human history, TARP. (Of course Republicans support all the rightwing policies of the Democrats but only as very junior partners.)

These are not "differences in our community." A group of spoiled and stupid idiots is not a movement. They are a bunch of worthless vandals who aren't even mature nor courageous enough to actually do anything in light of day.

I'm very tired of people showing them deference and embracing them as legitimate voices of our community.

There are many pacifists in our community who have grave concerns about our military, yet, I would never think it my place to tell a fellow LGBT person that it is not their absolute right to serve in the military if they wish. I might try to persuade them otherwise, but I would not disrespect their decision nor their service if they choose to serve.

Bash Back needs to be called out by our community and given NO shelter when they commit crimes, particularly crimes against our own people. They are cowards to the core.

Ok so we call them out when they do something unacceptable. But calling them names is not productive.
If we want to call someone out we have to speak to them to inform them. If we just speak at them and yell we are simply going to demonize them in the eyes of others and push them away.
We also need to listen and try to hear what is being said about the experiences of others and how those experiences inform their feelings, beliefs and positions.
So, I'm all for calling them out but I think that we need to call them to the table to discuss things and that means that if we want them to be committed to listening to us we have to be just as committed to listening to them. And if we want them to be willing to have their minds changed we have to be willing to risk having our minds changed. And if we want our words to pull them more toward our positions we have to be willing to risk allowing their words to pull us closer to their positions.
I would rather engage in discourse than a sermon or an attack.

does anyone really believe that the military "protects (y)our freedom"?

or do they really put our freedom at risk by invading and occupying any country with extractable resources that wont give them to us and thereby breeding anti-american fervor across the planet?!?

i'll protect my own queer family myself thank you very much!!! army, get the fuck out of my life and stop being so arrogant to think i want you doing a damn thing on my behalf!

ps. hello! billboard liberation front (www.billboardliberation.com)? this isn't anything new...

You know, I was thinking about the billboard liberation front too. In fact, that's where most of my skepticism that BB did this comes from. I would expect that if they did it, it wouldn't just be torn down. There are so many more fabulous things that they could have done to it.

I could still see them having done it, but without a claim of responsibility, I really have no reason to think that's the case. Either way I agree that there are plenty of things in our community that deserve greater criticism than vandalism of a billboard that was pretty messed up to begin with.