"A group stood up, declared themselves fags, and began screaming loudly. Upon hearing the loud interruption, other affinity groups went into action. A team that had been hiding under the pews in the closed-off balcony dropped a banner and pulled back the curtains to reveal “IT’S OKAYTO BE GAY! BASH BACK!”. Another group threw over a thousand fliers to the entirety of the congregation. The fire alarm was pulled. Queers began making out in front of the pastor. And within a matter of minutes,
everyone had evaded the guards and made their escapes."
Now, beyond the cathartic release of understandable pent up rage, what good does this kind of activity do and what does it really accomplish, save to further alienate potential allies and members of the Judiciary who will and are currently grappling with the whole issue of homosexuality and same-sex love? There are many sincere people who voted for Prop. 8, not because they are necessarily haters, but because many of them are both confused about these issues and are told by ignorant and/or hateful homophobic clergy, and reinforced by each other, that Gay people are "sinners," and are "immoral."
And why wouldn't those hateful messages gain resonance among their congregations and among the public at large? Many Straight people are genuinely shocked when I tell them that the egregious images they see of Gay people in many public demonstrations do not really accurately depict Gay people's lives. Given what most people usually see, they readily believe the ignorant and/or hateful clergy and others who equate being Gay with being "immoral" and being hedonistic.
Look at many of the images that the public sees of Gay people? Most all of them identify Gay people with the most egregious images portrayed in assorted public exhibitions; hearing many visible Gay people in the media refer to themselves as "fags," "queers," and the like; many Gay people seeming to revel in the role of "sexual outlaw," and seeming to enjoy portraying themselves as "the other," and then in the same breath expecting most Straight people to embrace that persona and affirm equal rights for people they don't understand and whose public persona frequently defines them and other Gay people as merely one-dimensional sexual hedonists.
I'm not at all suggesting that people become closeted, nor am I suggesting that people be inauthentic! I am suggesting that the most basic principles of public relations be employed to show Straight people the genuine lives of Gay people, and that the two are not really different, save for the gender of the person one loves, and how that person deserves to have all of the civil and sacramental rights enjoyed by heterosexuals. In other words, we have to win the hearts and minds of people, and to disrupt church services, shout epithets, speak and act in ways deliberately designed to be offensive to others is not the way to win those hearts and minds if, in fact, this goal is what is desired by these exhibitionists!
Let's face it: Why would the average Straight person vote against Prop. 8 in California when the only image he or she has of Gay people is what he or she sees in, for example, last year's Folsom Street Fair?
Does anyone honestly think that such public displays will win over the hearts and minds of potential allies? Does anyone really think that trashing church services and shouting epithets will in any way change people's hearts and minds?
The issue of same-sex marriage in California is now before the California Supreme Court that may well nullify the vote that passed the hateful Proposition 8. Disruptive demonstrations in churches, the shouting and general use of hateful epithets as self-identifiers, and any continued depictions of public images as shown above, and which are identified in many Straight people's minds with the lives of Gay people, can do nothing but sabotage the quest for same-sex marriage, as it also sabotages the acquisition of full and equal civil rights.
Several months ago, I wrote a post entitled, "On The Need To Grow Up," and my good friend Don Charles wrote a subsequent post defending my position that is entitled, "In Defense of Growing Up." Most of those who chose to comment on those posts vilified us for our contentions as you will see by also reading the comments, yet I strongly urge you to read or re-read those posts.
We cannot afford to allow witting or unwitting traitors from within to continue to sabotage civil rights gains! Although there is a lot of blame to go around for the passage of Prop. 8, what has been summarily neglected is not only contained in these two posts, but is also manifested in such a demonstration as depicted in the article that precedes this post.
The view of Gay people as one dimensional sexual hedonists; the view of Gay people as "the other," the "sexual outlaw; the use of hateful anti-Gay epithets (coined by the oppressor) as self-identifiers in the naïve notion that their use somehow detoxifies those terms and makes them terms of empowerment ["There's a famous photograph from the '60s of Black Civil Rights marchers holding signs that say I AM A MAN. It strongly conveys both the dignity of the marchers and the righteousness of their cause. Imagine the impression that photo would convey if the signs had read I AM A NIGGER instead. LGBT folk who like to confront the power structure calling themselves 'fags' and 'queers' and acting out guerilla shock tactics need to reconsider their approach. What do you want to generate, respect or ridicule? Validating people's prejudices is a lousy way of getting them to acknowledge your human dignity!"]; the self-loathing that has many Gay activists thinking that marriage should be a non-issue that deflects from more important civil rights concerns when, in fact, in my opinion it is marriage that is the most important civil rights concern for Gay people, as along with the conferring of that right that finally recognizes the legitimacy and dignity of same-sex love and puts it on a par with heterosexual love, is likely to come full and equal civil rights; to settle for incrementalism, such as civil unions and Domestic Partnerships merely retards the acquisition of marriage rights.
To settle for civil unions and Domestic Partnerships acknowledges that same-sex love is somehow inferior to heterosexual love; is different in nature from heterosexual love; isn't as deserving of legal and sacramental recognition as is heterosexual love, and that stance must be viewed as unacceptable.
It might well be that the passage of Prop. 8 may have ironically been one of the best things to move Gay civil rights forward, in that there is now no further mystification, no sanitized rhetoric possible from which homophobes can hide, especially since it not only occurred in California, but actually removed a constitutionally affirmed right by the California State Supreme Court. The gloves are now off, and we can capitalize on that realization by: 1. Fighting for same-sex marriage in the courts; in California that might be far easier to do than elsewhere, given the fact that the Supreme Court is in the position of deciding whether the tyranny of the majority can determine the civil rights of a minority group, overturning the Court's already adjudicated decision that the denial of same-sex marriage rights has always been unconstitutional; 2. Peaceful demonstrations demanding equal rights; 3. Picketing churches that are homophobic, showing how their claim to represent Jesus is despicably contravened by their advocacy of legalizing discrimination against Gay people, much as they did with African Americans in the relatively recent past; 3. Writing letters to the editor advocating for equality; 4. Talking with friends and neighbors, and telling them the truth about Gay people's lives and not relying on hedonistic images that show Gay people as merely one-dimensional, sexually obsessed, human beings.
If we act maturely; speak sensibly; always show dignity in our advocacy, far more mileage will be obtained than by juvenile excesses and downright counterproductive, albeit understandably cathartic, activities that can do little but reinforce the hateful messages that have been spewed by the oppressor as well as give the oppressor credibility in the eyes of many who would otherwise be our allies.