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10 New Year’s Resolutions for the Gay Community

‘Tis the season to make promises to yourself. Whether it’s losing weight, taking up scuba diving or calling your mother, the new year is a time to resolve to do new things and be a better person. We’ve got the personal covered, but what about the gay community as a whole?

2008 will be remembered as a big year for the gays—we won rights, then lost them and then caught the world’s attention by making our voices heard. At the same time, the world of gay media continues to shrink, LGBT folks continue to be beaten and killed both at home and abroad, gay leadership often seems missing in action and, if you’re a gay minority, you’re getting the short end of two already pretty-damn-short sticks. We can’t control Obama or Congress or the homophobes who will call us names, deny us our rights or, in far too many cases, still turn to physical violence. But the best way of controlling our destiny is to start with ourselves. Here are 10 new year’s resolutions we’d like to see the gay community keep:

Build an army.

You can blame gay organizations for not achieving goals faster than they have, or for only asking you to open your wallet, but let’s face facts: If you only have a limited pool of people actually willing to work for equal rights, your best bet is to make sure they’re well funded and to pass the heavy lifting over to professional experts. We lost marriage equality in California partly because we handed the reins of the campaign over to paid professionals. Sure, we should take advice from political experts, but you can’t buy equal rights. You have to work for it. Let’s see the gay community take a page from the Obama campaign and organize grassroots activists; let’s see meetings of 10 or 15 people at a time talking about what they can do on their block, street or town to make a difference. Multiply that across the globe and talk to one another, and there’s nothing we can not achieve.

Don’t fear visibility.

The most important thing the gay community can do to help itself out is to continue to be present and vocal. We should use every opportunity that we can to make the case that denying gays and lesbians the right to marry, the right to serve our country and the right to live without fear of retribution is an attack on civil rights. That means when a transexual woman is beaten and killed, her death can’t pass into the night forgotten; that means when a priest who compares gays and lesbians to pedophiles is invited to speak before the whole country, we speak up too; that means talking to your friends and family about the issues that are important to you. Harvey Milk was right: There is no downside to being visible.

“You’re not being a good friend if you let someone go on doing something that’s stupid, ineffective or dangerous…”

Realize that equal rights is not a popularity contest.

More than a few well-meaning gays and lesbians seem to think that if only homophobes could see what nice people we are, they would step aside and allow us our rights. Join the Impact’s series of increasingly silent and passive protests are a step in the right direction (there’s only so many times you can march back and forth and still be effective), but the attitude that by being the best little boy or girl in the world will confer upon you a gold seal of approval is so last century. Stop asking for equal rights and start demanding them. This doesn’t mean simply yelling louder than the opposition, but it does mean making the case for equality forcefully, and remembering that there’s nothing wrong with you—it’s the homophobes who need to change.

Treat the gays just like straights.

We need to stop giving a special pass to gay and lesbian organizations, be they charities, media or businesses. The charge that you’re being “divisive” when criticizing the gay and lesbian community is foolish. We should hold ourselves to the same standards we hold the rest of the world. This isn’t just a nice principle, it has real benefits. If gay and lesbian groups aren’t scrutinized, questioned or criticized, they risk being loved to death. You’re not being a good friend if you let someone go on doing something that’s stupid, ineffective or dangerous simply because you don’t want to hurt their feelings.

Make allies everywhere.

Here’s another fact that has to be faced: Gays and lesbians will always be in the minority, no matter how much Baptist ministers would have you believe that we’re going to turn all the children gay. The good news is that more people are willing to stand up for equality—some because they have friends or family who are gay and some because they think it’s wrong to treat any group of people like second-class citizens. The biggest challenge now is reaching and engaging both communities of color and religious groups. It’s prejudiced to think that people in these groups can’t have their hearts turned, and the truth is, we haven’t tried all that hard to reach them.

Define the agenda.

As long as the gay community is unclear about its goals, homophobes will continue to define them for us. All they have going for them is fear and they’ll continue to tell people who don’t know any better that the goal of the gay community is to teach homosexuality to children, force churches to marry gays and lesbians and any number of other ridiculous lies. Yes, there’s a gay agenda, but there’s no reason it should be a secret. We need to find a clear way to articulate what it is we believe to be full, fair and equal treatment under the law, and then we need to tell everybody.

Get a winning attitude.

I remember standing on the street in L.A. with a few hundred other Prop. 8 protesters and talking to a slightly older guy, who had joined us as he saw us marching on the street. He told me and a few others that the thing we need to realize is that “in the scheme of things, this will only take a minute.” He’s right. The plain and simple truth is that we’ve come a long way in a short time and that a lot of the impatience we have now is because, at long last, there’s a finish line in sight. Even though we lose ballot initiative after ballot initiative, we should remember that these initiatives are a response to our success. The story of America, the thrust of our history, is toward more equality and freedom. Be angry, be outraged, but don’t lose sight that you’re on the winning team.

“We should remember that these initiatives are a response to our success.”

Hate the bigotry, love the bigot.

No matter how virulent, homophobia always comes down to ignorance. This means nobody should be written off, but it also means that no matter how good or decent or kind a person is in their other walks of life, their homophobia still deserves to be called out. I’m talking about Rev. Warren, obviously. The truth is, Warren’s done a lot of good for the world and I believe he’s a decent man, but when it comes to his views on gays and lesbians, and the extent to which he’s gone to deny gays and lesbians their rights, he is fundamentally wrong. We should do our best, even when they’re fighting against us (even more so when they’re fighting against us), to help people who are letting hate and fear control them.

Remember that it’s not all about you.

Just as the fight for LGBT rights doesn’t boil down to overturning a gay marriage ban in California, there’s more to equality and fairness than just the needs of gays and lesbians. You can practice your politics in whatever way you choose, but if you support full and equal protection for gays and lesbians, you owe it to yourself and your fellow citizens to looks at the many other gross inequalities around the globe and do something about them as well. It’s easy to be self-serving, but if you expect straight people to care about you, you should try caring about something that doesn’t directly effect you as well. And don’t just empathize, do something tangible.

You can have your cake *ahem* and eat it, too.

Finally, let’s resolve to be diverse. The argument over whether we should be “mainstream” or “radical” is tedious. We can be both. We can be Democrat and Republican. We can forcefully advocate change through civil disobedience while also working within the system for change. Of all the groups of people in the world, it seems that ours has the greatest capacity for being able to hold two ideas in our head at the same time. We’re a better, stronger and more interesting community when we are both the loud-mouthed flamboyant hairdresser and the buttoned-down country club preppy. We wouldn’t be fabulous if we all did it in the exact same way. It’s a big community and no one single person or group gets to own it. That’s why we all own it.

By:           Japhy Grant
On:           Dec 29, 2008
Tagged: , , , , , , ,
  • 22 Comments
    • dvlaries
      dvlaries

      ” Nothing is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself, something that encompasses you, but is not defined by your existence alone. “

      Dec 29, 2008 at 8:32 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Pride And Shame
      Pride And Shame

      Right on. We couldn’t agree more. To help achieve all of these, visit http://www.prideandshame.com

      Dec 29, 2008 at 9:54 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ggreen
      ggreen

      Don’t look at everyone you meet as a possible sex partner. Believe it or not a blowjob is not the equivalent of a handshake. It’s OK to know people you haven’t been sexually intimate with. Friends with out benefits are usually a lot more objective.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 10:12 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Qjersey
      Qjersey

      SUPPORT your local LGBT organization, skip a movie and donate $15, volunteer, attend an event, network and spread the word about the organization.

      Become a “LGBT big brother or sister,” pass along the lessons learned.

      I am forever grateful for “Miss Ron’s” words of wisdom to me when I was 19.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 10:20 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Raphael
      Raphael

      This year, I pledge to encourage at least one closety friend come out to his (or her) parents already. (I got a few people in mind…)

      Dec 29, 2008 at 1:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alan down in Florida
      Alan down in Florida

      Excellent piece. You left out register to vote and vote – and not just for national elections. Your voice is heard more loudly when you use it locally.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 2:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • GranDiva
      GranDiva

      What GGreen says is very true, but I have to say, I’d blow Japhjy for this particular post. I’m just that way. Smart people need more blow jobs.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 3:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Christina
      Christina

      “The argument over whether we should be “mainstream” or “radical” is tedious.”

      Amen! Just as there is no one “type” of gay or lesbian, there is no one type of hetero. It takes all people working together to make a change because what touches someone’s heart is different from what reaches another’s. We need everyone: the flaming drama queens, the radical leather dykes, the sweet gay cowboys, the lesbian softball coaches, the boys and girls next door, everyone. We live in the 21st century, people! It’s about time that we stop relying on old stereotypes and old cliques. We are all human beings. We have at least that in common.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 3:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Zoe Brain
      Zoe Brain

      How about this one.

      “I will not forget GLBT is not just GLB”.

      “You can practice your politics in whatever way you choose, but if you support full and equal protection for gays and lesbians, you owe it to yourself and your fellow citizens to looks at the many other gross inequalities around the globe and do something about them as well. It’s easy to be self-serving, but if you expect straight people to care about you, you should try caring about something that doesn’t directly effect you as well. And don’t just empathize, do something tangible.”

      Well, yes. Like write articles that manage to mention the word “transgender” or “transsexual” just *once* in 10+ paragraphs, before going on about “gross inequalities round the globe”. Or even afterwards. How about some of the grossest possible inequalities at home? Still, I guess if it doesn’t directly affect you…

      Just a thought. Think about why you didn’t do this, why it never even occured to you.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 3:42 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • alex
      alex

      Wow, Thank you. This is the most intelligent article I have ever read on this site. I hope that more of our gay brothers and sister start to adopt these attitudes quickly before we are blinded by victimization.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 3:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jack
      jack

      not only the most intelligent well written article, but it seems our posters have risen to the challenge and produced thoughtful effective suggestions for action.

      i got together with some other local malcontents and started a blog for an otherwise voiceless community. its small, barely ticking, but by heck, the next time there is something the gay population (we aren’t yet a community) needs to know something, they will find it there. its a slow process but its the best we can do in a very conservative area.

      have a look..

      http://gayfortmyers.wordpress.com/

      Dec 29, 2008 at 4:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mark
      mark

      You could add “KNOW the traitors,” to the list.

      Warren and many of the bigots we face, have the work and co-operation of gays willing to work for him.
      When we refuse to play the church organ, or teach the sunday schools, or volunteer in ANY way that assists them, they become weaker. It’s the same with the Log Cabin folks, or Dignity members, or whatever the f*ck the gay Mormon group is called.
      They have for DECADES rationalized their working in those groups to change them from the inside.
      Well here we are decades later, they NEVER GOT BETTER, THEY GOT WORSE.
      They use you closeted weak willed queers to mouth their hateful policies towards us, or to rationalize them…..ENOUGH!

      Dec 29, 2008 at 5:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mark
      mark

      Another resolution might be USE WHAT YOU HAVE, don’t think you have to re-invent the wheel every decade.

      When you have an ARMY, make it an ARMY. We have thousands in our community who have previous military experience, we have thousands in our community who know self defense, and we have thousands who are armed.
      Maybe if we use those talents, we won’t have more young lesbians GANG RAPED, or transgendered people killed execution style. It wasn’t just passive methods used in most Human Rights fights. It was militias who patroled their neighborhoods with high visability, as a warning they wouldn’t tollerate outsiders, f*cking with their community, especially the weaker members of their community. WHY have these burley gym rats and cycle riding dykes unless we deploy them well?
      Also NEVER name the G*D DAMN gun clubs with the word PINK in the title…..we have advertising BRILLIANCE, we shouldn’t be bumbling around giving our toughest folks, the weakest names.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 5:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kid A
      Kid A

      Japhy, you fucking rock.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 8:47 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • kevin
      kevin

      Mark,

      Inflammatory rhetoric about queers who remain in their traditions, be it religious or political, is exactly what Japhy said we should steer away from. Take the blinders off once and a while and you’ll see that.

      As someone on the Left, I’m no fan of gay republicans, if only because I’m no fan of Republican policy period. Nevertheless, gay republicans or Christians help all of us simply by being visible within their straight communities. To call them “traitors” is so off-the-mark that it’s simply laughable.

      We are a “rainbow”, us queers, and that means we are as diverse as humanity itself. Irregardless of my political or religious (or non-religious) identity, I want people speaking for our community in the GOP, the church, the mosque, the synagogue, etc. And frankly, your type of “us vs. them” attitude is so last Presidency.

      Lastly, it has been those who’ve stayed in their political and religious traditions despite hostility from homophobes and uber-homos who have really pushed this movement into the 21st Century. I thank them, even if I don’t agree with their politics or religion.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 9:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kevin B
      Kevin B

      I’d love to see gays no longer assuming they are to the left and a democrat by default simply because they are gay.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 10:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mark
      mark

      @kevin:
      Hold your breath until queers change the Baptists, Catholics, Orthodox Jews, Mormons, or Republicans,…yeah do that honey

      Dec 30, 2008 at 12:17 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mark
      mark

      and another thin Kevin if HALF the queers on BOTH coasts and 25% of queers in between, hadn’t died in the PANDEMIC, we would already have our equality. Unfortunately we were a little f*ckin busy for 25 years just trying to not DIE.

      Dec 30, 2008 at 12:21 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daniel
      Daniel

      Yes, get involved in your local groups.

      http://www.gaycommunitycenter.org

      Dec 30, 2008 at 5:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daniel
      Daniel

      oops…add an ‘s’

      http://www.gaycommunitycenters.org

      Dec 30, 2008 at 5:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bruce Namerow
      Bruce Namerow

      [img]http://www.equalitymatters.org/themes/site_themes/equality_matters/images/badges/1138.gif[/img]

      This website and idea promises a new way to protest and spread the word: holding a virtual March for Equality through Facebook and other social media websites during Inauguration Week. It could be a powerful new tool in the new web world we live in.

      Check out http://www.equalitymatters.org

      Dec 31, 2008 at 8:30 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • John from  England(used to be just John but there are other John's)
      John from England(used to be just John but there are other John's)

      @Zoe Brain:
      You know why and it sucks. :(

      Trans need to make themselves more visible and heard as most gays in power aint gonna do it….

      It’s not right, jus saying…

      Dec 31, 2008 at 2:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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