Saturday, March 1, 2008

SOME DYNAMICS AND CONSEQUENCES OF "OUTSIDER" STATUS


My friend, Don Charles [Pictured], wrote a very erudite and heart-felt defense of a post I made on February 21st entitled, "On Need To Grow Up," for which I am very grateful, that both appeared on this blog on February 21st, and also appeared on the blog, "Pam's House Blend,", where both my post and the comments it generated can be seen. As you will see, the post generated quite a bit of revulsion from most all of those who chose to comment on it on "Pam's House Blend."

Don Charles' post, "In Defense Of Growing Up," appears in the Diary section of Pam's House Blend located here.

His post, "In Defense Of Growing Up," also appears on his excellent blog, "Christ, The Gay Martyr."

I'm not only profoundly grateful to Don Charles for his coming to the defense of my positions and the contentions that I made in that post, but also for his eloquence and insights that he brought to bear both in the defense of my post, and which he also brings to all posts on his own blog, that I strongly urge you to read.

I thought you'd want to be apprised of the issues involved and the responses received that have been directed both to him and to me.

My own perceptions regarding the revulsion expressed to my post has less to do with the substance of the post than the fear that it might well have evoked in LGBT people who are consciously and/or unconsciously afraid that by seeking to become part of the "mainstream," and demanding full and equal civil and sacramental rights, they will be strongly rebuffed and, hence, experience even more psychological pain than most already do.

It may well seem "easier" to accept and even embrace "outsider" status, and even revel in the designations used to confirm that status, than to accept the fact that by insisting on being treated with the same dignity afforded all other citizens they are likely to be rejected, and often rejected by people whom they might currently view as "friends," or at least who are currently "friendly" to them.

Hence, rather than "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the defense mechanism used might well be "They can't reject me because I'm letting them know in no uncertain terms that I don't want to be accepted by them anyway."

So, beyond condemning the condemners, rejecting the rejectors, an end run is undertaken whereby one seeks to become immune to the profound hurt that being condemned confers by deliberately reveling in "outsider" status; portraying oneself as a "sexual outlaw"; referring to oneself and others in one's "subculture" by pejorative identifiers so as to mitigate the hurt that occurs when members of the dominant group use those very same labels to castigate and exclude our LGBT sisters and brothers from full and equal civil rights in society. It may well seem "easier" to embrace second-class status than to aspire to equal status and be roundly rebuffed!

Given the psychological vulnerability of so many LGBT people due to centuries of persecution, I fully understand the revulsion expressed by so many against my post. However, my point is that in order to secure full and equal civil and sacramental rights, that fear of rejection by others, especially by what may be currently considered one's "friends" and neighbors must be overcome, and the self-loathing that helps manifest itself in all sorts of self-destructive behaviors, and pejorative self-identifiers, and that depict LGBT people as mere one dimensional sexual beings, must be overcome and transcended if full equality is to become a reality.

And that transcendence is psychologically difficult, and even daunting. But that is the first step in undertaking the meaningful activism necessary to be treated with dignity and finally acquire the full and equal civil and sacramental rights that LGBT people deserve, and that their heterosexual counterparts have long enjoyed.
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4 comments:

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

'Hence, rather than "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the defense mechanism used might well be "They can't reject me because I'm letting them know in no uncertain terms that I don't want to be accepted by them anyway."'

Jerry,

I think it's "don't rock the leaking lifeboat we're sitting in"! Some of us have convinced ourselves that the boat isn't sinking. Others of us know, but think that's just the way it is, we can't do anything about it, and furthermore, we deserve to sink. You and I want to overturn that leaking lifeboat, and force the occupants to swim for that big deluxe ocean liner everyone else is cruising on. It's a rough swim . . . the waves are murder . . . but to remain where we are means certain death.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi Don Charles: That's a perfect metaphor for what I also perceive to be happening. And I think that that mind-set of either the boat not sinking or we deserve to sink is a relatively recent phenomenon.

I didn't detect this mind-set among the activists of the 1960's and 70's, nor among many ACT-UP groups in the 80's. Moreover, in any civil rights struggle, it is a relative few who participate.

What is somewhat different from the struggle for African-American civil rights is that, unlike their plight before their civil rights movement when virtually all African-Americans wanted true liberation, many, if not most, LGBT people resent such a meaningful movement. In my opinion, many are afraid of such a civil rights movement for some of the reasons I mentioned on my post.

It seems rational to many LGBT people to settle for second best when the alternative is confrontation with the truth of one's second-class status with which one will be hit in the face once he/she demands full and equal dignity and civil rights.

It is a tough swim to "that big deluxe ocean liner," but it must (and will) eventually be done if one wants to live a full, authentic life, and not be entrapped by all sorts of defense mechanisms to avoid confronting the truth.

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

Jerry,

I do hope you'll post a rebuttal, even if it's only a brief one, to Nancy Polikoff's book arguing that marriage equality isn't a worthwhile goal for LGBT folk. The stealth support for anti-Gay Rights political positions seems to be coming from all directions these days!

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi Don Charles: I'll try. I've really been surprised at the revulsion expressed by many LGBT people by the prospect of being treated equally and enjoying the same rights that heterosexuals have. I'm not sure of all the dynamics involved in this phenomenon, but it seems to me that "fear of 'success" might well be trumping even "fear of failure." And I have to confess that this phenomenon is mystifying to me. And the vehemence expressed, not only against the ideas but against the people who propose means to achieve equality, is similarly mystifying to me.