Davina Kotulski

Martin Luther King Day: What's Love Got to Do with It

Filed By Davina Kotulski | January 17, 2011 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: gay marriage, lesbian, LGBT, love, marriage, marriage equality, Martin Luther King Jr., MLK, MLK Day, nonviolence, rev. dr. martin luther king

Today we celebrate Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and commitment to non-violent transformation. martin-luther-king.jpgDr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend," and, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

I think his wisdom rings as true today with our movement for LGBT equality and the marriage equality movement as it did during the Black Civil Rights Movement.

But what does love and non-violence really mean? Does it mean that we don't hit back when swung at? That we don't break things or destroy property? Does it mean that we don't cuss out those who cuss at us? Does it mean that we turn the other cheek and take the higher ground in our thoughts, words, and deeds? Or does it mean that we aspire to love our neighbor, even the one that voted against us?

Does it mean seeing like Gandhi did, that the enemy is not the person who is wholly taken over by homophobia, but the enemy is the condition of homophobia and our job is to lovingly help free that person from the untruth.

But we cannot change hearts and minds by making people wrong. We must create a field of love where we can all be liberated to the truth of the oneness that Dr. King talked about. Where we can gently help people to release whatever fear or judgment that they have that keeps them from loving and accepting LGBT people.

It may seem counterintuitive and scary. But we know that when we give we receive. We must show compassion to receive compassion. It means being vulnerable and courageous.

It means choosing not to take approaches like FCKH8 where adults and even young children are screaming "F U if you don't support marriage equality." This is not a method that Dr. King would find acceptable. Turning people who voted against us into villains doesn't help.

I'm not saying that it makes me feel good when someone has voted against my civil rights, but I know that each and everyone of us has been raised in a homophobic society and each and everyone of us has to unlearn that homophobia. We need to be gentle teachers, not shame and blame, or worse fill ourselves with the very hatred that we seek to undue in others.

Let's honor Dr. King's memory by recommitting ourselves to principles of love and non-violence. After all, this is a movement about love, greater love, and more love, and valuing love.


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Hear, hear. I concur with your understanding of Dr. King's message. A message we all would be wise to embrace in our struggle for equality. Having been born a white southern male homophobia and racism, while not directly, are a part of my being.

It is easier to react with a stone in hand when someone challenges my civil rights as a gay american than it is to act with love. However, Dr. King, et al, gave witness to: "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone ..."

You mean King wouldn't have pistol whipped an opponent into submission? Oh wait, LGBT people haven't either? It's just the anti-gay attackers?

I think we're doing fine with MLK's teachings. It's the other side that needs some reminders.

No and King wouldn't have said "F you." Something I've watched my fellow activists do at marriage equality rallies more than once in my over ten years of activism. Believe me, it doesn't change hearts and minds.

I see what you're saying, but to be honest I'm not in a place right now to gently help straight people release their fear or judgement when heteronormativity is literally KILLING my community. Call me reactionary but that's just where i'm at, and I am justified in those feelings. I think the unlearning of homophobia is work straight people need to do with one another; I'm working on my own self-determination.

But at the same time I whole-heartedly respect queer people willing to make those sacrafices.

Intern Jake,

I totally appreciate where you are at and valuing your feelings. If you know you are not in the right place to gently educate I totally empathize. Anger is healthy, sadness is healthy, I invite us to not rage back. I also really appreciate your support of those who want to gently educate the straight people. That means a lot to me. Thanks for commenting.

Davina