Alex Blaze

May Day

Filed By Alex Blaze | May 01, 2007 11:28 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: May Day, oppression, workplace discrimination


Well, I haven't posted anything substantive today, and I wouldn't like for May Day to pass without a word on an LGBTQ blog, considering what we're doing here.

May the first is recognized for several reasons. First, many neopagans celebrate it as the first day of spring, and in Midieval Europe a bunch of kids would dance around a gigondo phallus to celebrate it. The US now officially recognizes May first as Loyalty Day, to counterbalance Labor Day, to remind people that they should be loyal to the American government before the American people. You know, just in case loyalty isn't going up the ladder and is instead equal or something. But I want us to think about the most common celebration globally on this day, which is also recognized as International Workers' Day, and about how LGBTQ rights are tied up in a larger labor movement.

Economic equality movements are based on the idea that certain groups of people are currently taking the work, wealth, and talent of other groups of people and not paying for it fairly. This, of course, is really familiar to our people. Think about it.

Starting with the most obvious, we work just as well as anyone else but still get paid an average of almost $12,000 less than than the average straight household. Many queer people will seek a job or a workplace that will be safe and affirming, which is understandable, but also throws another requirement in there that might cause someone to pass by a more lucrative or enjoyable job by. That's a form of economic oppression.

But the NGLTF found that even when comparing within a field, queer people make as much as 27% less than their straight counterparts. Job discrimination has real economic effects.

Our children are still not given a fair shot at life. On top of the teen anxieties, stresses, and cruelties that straight teens face, queer teens have to define themselves against a powerfully established norm and face daily physical and verbal attacks. This causes our youth to skip school and academically achieve less than they may otherwise. Also, 26% of LGBT teens are forced to leave their homes if they come out to their parents. All of this means that we're not given a fair chance, and, guess what, it's not a level playing field from the start.

It doesn't stop at job discrimination and oppression of our youth. When we grow up, we get unfairly taxed because of our inability to legally marry. Our cultural achievements are stolen by people who have no respect for us as people, but really, really like camp, drag, or our artistic and musical achievements. Often health care, which for some reason is based on employment in this country, isn't applicable to our partners or our families, and they have to go out and pay more for the same coverage that a straight couple would get for the less. Even though we pay into Social Security the same as anyone else, we can't pass our benefits onto our partners when we die as a straight people can. Many of our senior citizens are forced back in the closet in order to get the help they need in a retirement or nursing home.

All of this, added up, is a massive system that says that our people aren't deserving of equal pay for equal work. It's that same system that says that Blacks, women, foreigners and immigrants, and working class people should not, must not, have the same access to wealth that people on the other side of those axes of identity do. Essentially, we're fighting a fight that's been fought for a long time, a fight that we should see ourselves as a part of, and that's what International Workers' Day means to me.

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