Editor's Note: Guest blogger Dominick L. Auci earned his Ph.D. in Pathology from Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn and served for many years as Assistant Professor. He has over 40 peer-reviewed publications and currently resides with his husband in San Diego, California.
Can you imagine the reaction if anyone in the African American Community had defended Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling by saying "We've come a long way because we've been open, tolerant, and persuaded people by reason and haven't jumped down everybody's throat that's disagreed with us and tried to get them fired."? Yet openly gay (and inexplicably Catholic) blogger Andrew Sullivan used these exact words to defend former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, whose hate for the LGBTQ community was at least the equal of Sterling.
On the contrary, the NBA was unanimous in screaming for Sterling's head on a silver platter. Even denizens of history's wrong side -- Tea Party favorites like Ted Cruise, Rand Paul and Sarah Palin -- ran for cover.
Of course, blacks and gays are not exactly equivalent. Even the most vitriolic conservatives have had to back off hating on black people, at least openly. The few lines of scripture commanding slaves to obey their masters (Ephesians 6:5 and Colossians 3:22) do not refer to African Americans specifically. More tellingly, the Confederacy lost the Civil War and lost badly, so God obviously had second thoughts on the whole slavery issue.
In modern America, the price of hating on blacks is just too high. Gays, on the other hand -- well, scripture is clear as a bell, as are the majority of religious institutions: God hates us, everyone.
It is no wonder that the same right-wing nuts who deserted the racist Sterling climbed out of their respective swamps to defend the homophobic Eich. It cost them nothing. Glenn Beck and Ben Shapiro, for example, made brownie points galore on feigning outrage and going all First Amendment on the "gay activists" (while getting in a couple homophobic cheap shots themselves). Then Andrew Sullivan comes along, gay as a goose himself, and flips his own community off by agreeing with them!
Thanks Andy, you big silly. They call our wives and husbands whores, our children bastards, and even kick us square in the teeth (squirmy little queers that we are), and we're supposed to be open and tolerant? Talk about the Stockholm syndrome! I never use the term, but dude, that's totally gay.
In this case, it fits: gays almost never fight back. Instead, we have a long history of accepting the most horrendous persecutions with little more than a whimper of passive resistance. In my own lifetime, it has been all Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, with barely a Lavender-Panther trace of Huey Newton, Angela Davis, and Bobby Seale.
In my view, that's a big part of why we're still fighting "turn away the gays" laws in dozens of states. It is why we win court case after court case, yet national marriage equality remains a distant dream. It is why we can still be fired simply for who we love in most states.
Sadly, America is a gay paradise compared to most of Asia and Africa, where it is okay to murder us in the streets like vermin. It's still cheap to hate on queers. The nature-versus-nurture elements of LGBTQ passivity would be a fascinating but largely academic study. In the end, it does not matter how the donkey got into the ditch. Just pull the ass out.
I realize that an awful lot of folks besides us are head-over-heels for the whole passive resistance thing. Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King, and Mahatma Gandhi where some of the most gifted marketing men of all time. And while we're on the topic, let's get this out in the open: I am not a Christian and have no emotional attachment, either way, to the whole 'turn the other cheek" philosophy. Relentlessly empirical by nature, the first and most powerful question for me is always "does it work"?
Considering how far the LGBTQ community has come on little more than passive resistance, the answer seems to be a resounding "yes!" However, looking at how far we still have to go begs the question of whether or not we can get there sooner with less of our own bloodshed by acting up a little -- or even a whole lot.
I am not advocating for violent training camps or armed militias -- far from it. I'm merely suggesting that there might be more efficacious middle ground, something diametrically opposite of the Andrew Sullivan/Log Cabin collaborationist approach. I'm suggesting that we raise, not lower, the price of homophobia. Let Brendan Eich be our poster child for zero tolerance: bboycott first, ask questions later.
When bullies drive a gay teen to suicide, homophobic evangelicals should be made to understand that we hold them personally responsible, Westboro Baptist Church-style. To a person, we ought to become the very militant homosexual activists that scare the bejesus out of Michele Bachmann. In a sentence, we cannot help being cute, but we don't always have to be so goddamned nice.
At the same time, it is important to realize that our economic and political prowess is limited and virtually non-existent in places like Russia, Uganda and Brunei. In the West, our enemies need to hide behind a veil of polite disagreement, but in Asia and Africa, they are right out in the open, murdering us for sport. Yet even these remote lands have accessible assets ripe for targeting.
It does not take an economics or history genius to recognize that totalitarian, theocratic regimes are by their very natures inefficient, consumptive, expansive, and therefore aggressive. Our political weight should oppose appeasement in any form. All the niceties of civilization notwithstanding, in such places there is no law but brain, tooth, and claw, and those who eschew swords can still die on them.
The LGBTQ communities suffering in these places deserve all our help, and the help of all decent folk, in fighting back. No one should walk gentle into that good night.
It comes down to a case for a gay Realpolitik, both at home and abroad. It is a case for what works. People don't necessarily refrain from using the n-word in public because it is wrong, but because it is economic suicide and risks a knuckle sandwich. The Roman Curia quit protecting pedophiles not because it was the right thing to do, but because it cost them obscene amounts of money. Lessons learned.
Folks should pay a high price for racism, sexism, and homophobia. Tolerance of intolerance is not admirable, it is cowardice. Hate spewed from a pulpit is still hate and just as actionable.
In direct contrast to the Andrew Sullivan approach, the LGBTQ community and its allies need to exact the last full measure of consequence from those who oppose equality. We ourselves cannot fall prey to the delusion that this is a polite disagreement. This is a fight for our lives.