Everything from calling oneself "abnormal" (i.e., "Queer"), to incorporating the oppressor's hate language (i.e., ""Dyke," "Fag," etc.), to fulfilling many of the negative and false stereotypes attributed to Gay people by homophobes, that can be seen in all too many "Pride Parades," undermine, denigrate, and betray the fight for full and equal rights for LGBT people.
Indeed, if I were more paranoid than I already am, I would think that many professional "activists" are in the employ of such homophobes as James Dobson and Peter LaBarbera! If they aren't, they might as well be!
Don Charles has kindly let me reprint his excellent article entitled, The Dumb Dora Award for Dishonorable Honors Goes to Tourism and Gay.Com in its entirety.
I hope that its message is taken to heart by all those who are both activists in the true sense of that term, and by those who have been foolishly misled and/or co-opted into believing that using hateful epithets as self-identifiers, and publicly burlesquing and sexualizing Gay identity, are somehow "edgy" and desirable, which couldn't be further from the truth.
The following is Don Charles' superb article that I hope you take to heart:
The Dumb Dora Award for Dishonorable Honors Goes to Tourism Montréal and Gay.com
Now that Gay Pride Month is over, I can relax a little bit. I always tense up when there's a lot of hypocrisy going on around me! I'll say this to anybody: twenty-first century Gay Pride is a huge joke. I think it's the biggest hoax since Orson Welles staged his fake Martian invasion in 1938.
First of all, putting your sexuality on public display makes no sense to me whatsoever. There's nothing remarkable about sex! Whether you knock boots with boys, girls, or both, it’s just a normal part of being human. Leaving shame about sexuality behind, declaring "This is the way I love, and it's not a sin", I can certainly understand that; but strutting down the middle of the street in fetish wear? It looks kinda forced. I come away from Pride parades thinking most of the participants are fronting like crazy, and nowhere near as proud as they claim to be.
Second, the majority of LGBT folk remain closeted, and many of those who don’t still rationalize the decision to hide in the closet. Maybe it's OK to "out" an anti-Gay politician or clergyman, but speaking the truth about anybody else is strictly verboten (unless it's gossip). I'll never forget the furore that followed disclosure of Congresswoman Barbara Jordan's Lesbian relationship; and God forbid a Gay actor should compromise his career by going public with his affectional preference! Comedienne Joan Rivers got much Gay support for this position when she broached it in a recent interview:
Third, too many members of the so-called Gay community do things that truly proud, truly dignified people don't do! They heavily abuse drugs and alcohol, and gamble their health with unsafe sexual practice. They celebrate the most stereotypical images of themselves imaginable. They faithfully attend churches, mosques and temples where they're utterly despised. For the most part, they respond to societal persecution with either denial, apathy or frivolity. They adopt the vilest of epithets for casual use on themselves.
Let me expand on that last example. In a 7 July post titled “Montréal’s Search for Queer Of The Year”, the editors of advocate.com reported:
This August, Tourism Montréal and Gay.com will bring five contestants to Montréal to compete for the title Queer of the Year. Daniel Baylis, event host and Tourisme-Montréal.org blogger, told The Advocate he can't reveal the celebrity judge panel, or what the top five contestants can look forward to when they arrive to Montréal, but any Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender person from anywhere around the world is welcome to compete. "The contest itself is kept fairly tightly under wraps," he said, "but they will be judged on five criteria: Personality, talent, healthy lifestyle, sex appeal, and a sense of community . . . community involvement is definitely considered a worthy trait, as well as the ability to spread your experience of your trip, should you come to Montréal," he added. "So if you have a Twitter following, or a Facebook following, those are great tools to have, as well." Judging from the people interviewed on the street, "queer" can mean just about anything, from being someone who stands up for their rights, to simply being a male version of Lady Gaga! Prospective contestants must fill out an application and upload their short entry video to YouTube. From there, the video entries are posted on QueerOfTheYear.com, where visitors can vote on their favorite contestants. The top five picks then get to go to Montréal for a quick getaway and contest on August 9.
Lordy mercy! I think I’m going to be sick.
Imagine, if you will, a competition for Nigger, Pollock, Kike, Chink, C*nt or Greaser of The Year. Wouldn't those respective communities be up in arms? Wouldn't the National Organization for Women have a f*cking cow? Wouldn't the Black media be riddled with outraged editorials? Even less inflammatory honors like Jew, Hispanic or Asian Of The Year sound uncomfortably patronizing; no public agency run by conscientious staff would ever want to go there. Yet French Canadian officials think it's safe to go there with us! Pourquoi?
They're undoubtedly aware that LGBT folk never heard a disparaging name they didn't love. Ethnic groups and women are known to trade race and gender-based slurs among themselves, but they're not in the habit of posting them on banners like we do! We also incorporate slurs into our organization titles, plaster them all over our media, and encourage Straight people to use them. (Whatever would they have thought of that last development at Stonewall?) We've pushed "reclamation" theory as far as it can possibly go (right off the edge of a cliff). Some of us are so enamored of hate speech that we'll shout down anybody who dares to criticize the casual way we use it. I know this is true from having been the one shouted down! (If only we'd put as much passion into equality activism!)
How many times have I heard Transfolk swear up and down that "queer" is a "unifying" term? How many times has a Lesbian claimed that "dyke" is a symbol of strength? How many times have Gay men said "queen", "homo" and "faggot" to one another as if these cruel epithets were badges of honor? Far more times than I can count.
The argument that we can somehow drain these ignorant labels of their toxicity isn’t any more convincing today than it was 25 years ago, but large numbers of us subscribe to it. In Gay activist circles, group RadicalSpeak is all but mandatory. Our language simply must be on the cutting edge, even if that edge cuts both ways; we're hooked on hate speech like some people get hooked on crystal meth! I can't fathom what kind of a high it produces, but it's obviously a potent one. Anybody who's willing to debase himself in a “Queer Of The Year” contest is strung out for real.
This addictive behavior reminds me of the old Tareyton cigarette commercials I saw on TV as a child. Patrons of the product would light up, glare into the camera and snarl: I'd rather fight than switch! That's when you'd notice that one of their eyes had been blackened. Later on, we found out that their lungs were black, too! We learned how bad inhaled tobacco was for our health, and how the rugged Marlboro Man had died of lung cancer.
Cigarettes are a perfect metaphor for heterosexist hate speech. "Reclaimed" slurs are just cancer-causing agents of a different kind. The cancer they grow within us eats away at our intelligence and self-esteem so that we no longer care if people demean and objectify us. Insults start to sound like endearments. Exploitation begins to feel like praise. Marginal status is mistaken for identity. It's amazing, how tangled our perceptions get when internalized shame holds us fast in its clutches.
Residual homophobia notwithstanding, most of the Western world has learned to feel affection for its "queers". We're such adorable pets, aren't we? Always ripe fodder for a "Saturday Night Live" skit, a late night comedy monologue, or a tacky "fagsploitation" scheme! In an objectifying context, “Queer Of The Year” awards make perfect sense. We've come to the point where society tolerates, derives amusement from and even celebrates people it considers freakish. Yet it still denies us basic respect. Why shouldn’t it, though, when we show so little respect for ourselves?
Many LGBT folk seem satisfied with this degree of acceptance. They enjoy playing the Happy Pervert no end. When patronizing entities like Tourism Montréal and Gay.com call on them to take part in degrading publicity stunts, they can't wait to go snuggle with Mama! They come eagerly a-scampering on tiny raccoon feet. How sad.
I guess it's possible to live a decent life devoid of dignity; clearly, a lot of us don't think dignity is important. Without it, though, the substance of a Gay Pride demonstration sure doesn't amount to much. Neither does the substance of a Gay Rights movement.