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What is the Gay Community?

October 17, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, iQreport, Thought of the Gay

kateWe always hear the words “gay community” when talking amongst ourselves, but what is it?  Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people span a spectrum of diversity that doesn’t lump us together by class, race, religion or really any binding character, trait or belief.  The only commonality most of us have with one another is that we are discriminated against socially and in our judicial system.  Perhaps, that is enough to create a “community.”

Recently, I was on the forums at gaywallet.com and I asked members what they though were some of the positives of being a member of the LGBT or Q classification.  Almost all answers revolved around a sense of community.

One common thing that happens to most of us upon coming out is we lose the community we are part of – or at least lose the standing we had in that community.  We fall a bit from the social ladder.  Perhaps this is particularly true with white gay men who, until coming out, are at the top of the social food chain.  But none of this tells me what the gay community is.

Is the gay community the club kids at the bars looking gorgeous and dancing until dawn?  Is it the activists whose feet are swollen from walking the neighborhoods asking for people to consent to our marriages?  Is it a singles’ group, a couples’ group, an HIV/AIDS prevention network, a circle jerk, a crafts store, a bookstore, a local church?  No, those are all just aspects of the LGBTQ community.

Before going to the National Equality March I had several little 140 character conversations with people from all over the country on twitter.  One of these people was Kate Walsham, a beautiful young woman from California.  Months ago we had promised each other a hug and at the National Equality March, we were able to deliver on our promise.

Originally, Kate wasn’t going to be able to come to the march.  Like many of Americans, she was down to a one income household due to the painful economy and it seemed she would miss this historic event, but through the kindness of a stranger, Kate was able to travel across the country and we were able to have our hug.  Kate told me her story while standing somewhere between the U.S. Treasury Department and the “Ellipse,” and that’s where I found the Gay Community.  Here is Kate, sharing her story with you:

Everyone’s a Freak To Someone – the Inclusion Problem and the Great Nationwide Kiss In.

August 03, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

kissinI would like to take a few moments to sit on my pulpit and vent. The new promotional video for the Great Nationwide Kiss In has been released. Like the first, this video is very sweet, very powerful and expresses the point well. In fact, the promotional videos have expressed exactly what many of the local events want to do – and why.  Before going into my lecture, take a moment to watch the video and draw from it what you will:

Now, the three primary folks involved in planning this event on the national level are ordinary folks, just like you and me.  David Mailloux, David Badash and Willow Witte.  They are working hard to defend our rights from those that would tyranize us.

But who is the “us” they are defending?  According to one commentator on the video you just watched, the us isn’t inclusive because it did not refer to queer or intersex.  With that in mind, I point out that the fully inclusive way to refer to the “us” folks is arguably, LGBTQQIA – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex and Allies.  An acronym for which I really care (explained more later), but try to remember when considering the “Gay Community.”

As someone who has worked hard to identify biphobia, transphobia, racism and other biases within the “Gay Community,” and to address and end those issues (including my own ignorance and misunderstandings) – I’m going to express what may turn out to be an unpopular, but not biased, opinion.  At some point, the labels have to stop.

Now imagine for a moment you were standing before an audience of people that disagrees, at least to some extent, that gay people should have equal rights – these are the people WE are sending our message to, not to the LGBTQQIA community.  Now imagine we complicate that message with the LGBTQQIA and then attempt to explain all the nuances of the all encompassing “Gay Community” to those that work so hard to defeat us.  For example, explain to them what “questioning” is and why it is included.  The message, would, in my opinion, be completely lost.  Why?  We’ve overcomplicated it in an effort to be “P.C.”  We’ve acronymed, for want of labels, ourselves out of understandable, linear thought.

Did you know that “transgender” can refer to heterosexual cross-dressors?  Yup.  Many of them identify with the transgender community.  It’s not just about a biological female changing the physical to match the psychological.  Should we now have LGBTQQIA[CD] to be truly inclusive?  When do we stop with the acronyms and accept the fact that we are all simply human and deserve equal treatment?

The point here is this – when you see people out working very hard to secure a better future for anyone within the LGBTQQIA label factory and feel they’ve left off a letter somewhere, they are very likely your closest ally and an improper target for negative comments and name-calling.

The full text of the comment left that has me so infuriated that our own community would further divide itself is thus:

you forgot queer and intersexed you cisgendered misogonyst

That accomplished nothing – it was spiteful and distasteful – not too mention the wrong word, misogonyst, for the intent of the comment as queer doesn’t translate to “woman.”

So to those that would agree that the people like David Badash, David Maillouw or Willow Witte, who are stepping up to the plate to lead OUR COMMUNITY to a better tomorrow are excluding a group within our community, please – be proactive.  Suggest they be more bi-inclusive for example or perhaps step up to the plate yourself and join in.

Perhaps it goes without saying, but – divided, we fall.

Author’s Note: The opinions expressed in this post are not necessarily the opinions of the Great Nationwide Kiss In or it’s champions, David Mailloux, David Badash and Willow Witte.  Any problems, concerns, misconceptions or angry emails about the content contained herein should be addressed directly with the author.