so i was surfing across fellow blogger aliza hausman’s blog [yeh, cuz she really needs me to send traffic her way. lol…] and i came across this blog about gay rights which, like a gajillion posts and discussions before it, argues that the gay rights and civil rights movements are pretty much synonomous.

but they’re really not.

now im not gonna bore you with the requisite i support gay rights/some of my friends are/im not homophobic cliched qualifying statements. im just simply going to respond to this article and state why.

this isn’t about playing the who’s been more oppressed game. as a friend of mine [both gay AND black, no less] once stated “oppression is oppression is oppression”. which is true. you cant tell someone if they’re oppressed or not or if one group is more oppressed than another. [although you really can, but that’s a philosophical discussion beyond the paramemters of this post]. but anyhoo, are the two  movements similar? most definitely. but a dog and a bear are also similar.  they both have fur, claws, growl, and walk on four legs. but anyone can see that they are very different animals.

so relevant to this discussion point by point:

1) “I’m for gay rights but … you can’t compare being Black to being gay.”

this is true. you cant. and no, this statement isnt implying that there are no gay black folk. its merely comparing instances of being discriminated against solely by virtue of being gay or black. a gay person will never [again, by virtue of being gay alone] be pulled over for “fitting the profile”, or driving a car deemed too expensive. there was never gay slavery, “straight only” laws, or people being firehosed for being gay. gays were never denied the right to vote, nor did they have to fight for citizenship. yes there were influential members in the framework of the civil rights movement, but they were part of the civil rights movement by virtue of being discriminated against for being black, not for being gay.

2) No, you’re not getting it, I didn’t choose to be Black and I can’t hide being Black.

also true. being black [in most cases] is an extremely and constantly visible marker which evokes discrimination and prejudice instantly. in cases of white gays, being gay largely does not revoke or trump inherent white privelege to the average passerby. ppl dont clench their purse when a gay man/woman enters an elevator. even once they do find out said person is gay. its not about “choosing” anything either way.

3) That’s my point, almost exactly, you can tell when someone is Black usually, but you never know if they’re gay! Well unless they’re really flamboyant or something.

well sure this is a little f*cked up that some black folk are mad that gays can “pass”, but that doesnt mean its any less true. see the profiling comment from above. also, black folk have a “thing” about passing. see the past few decades of hair straigheners, good/bad hair, dyes, skin cremes, nose jobs, paper bag tests, and every member of the jackson family.

4) Okay, I get that, but doesn’t it piss you off when they use the Civil Rights Movement for their movement?

yes, the “us/they” thing is usually derogatorily laced. but what is essentially meant is “they” as in by dint of solely being homosexual, not to the exclusion of those who are both black AND gay. those who are black and gay who use the civil rights movement as a reference to the gay rights movement are addressing the fact that they are homosexual, not necessarily anything “black” attached to it.

at the end of the day, in no way am i insuinuating/advocating that the gay rights movement is any less of a valid movement or that rights arent deserved. its just a very different battle than the civil rights movements but with similar tropes that resonate across both. as i quoted earlier, oppression is oppression is oppression. also, its ok to believe the two are not equitable. surprisingly enough it does not mean you’re a raging homophobe or the straight equivalent of a well-meaning white person in 1955 raised by racist parents or someone who wishes for all “the gays” to burn in hell.

well except for perez hilton. b/c he’s f*cking annoying.


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4 thoughts on “[s]wordplay

  1. As long as one acknowledges that gays are:

    a. human beings
    b. American citizens entitled to the same rights and privileges as other American citizens

    we’re cool.

    And as a black gay dude, I can certainly tell you that being black and being gay are very different experiences. For example, racist whites call me “nigger” and homophobic blacks call me “faggot.” If black and gay were the same, wouldn’t there be one derogatory word to describe both? Like “fagger” or something like that?

    : )


  2. Do you think marriage is a civil right? I see the gay rights movement as a contemporary extension of the civil rights movements throughout history, whether you’re talking about women’s suffrage, unions, black civil rights in the ’60s, Jews being allowed to live in certain towns in the ’50s and ’60s or homosexual couples being allowed to get married and adopt children, nowadays.

    That the civil rights movement of the ’60s (and I mean the one w/Rosa Parks and Woolworth’s counters and marches in Montgomery and Selma, not the one in the suburbs w/Jews being allowed to buy land in certain towns) has always hit home for me (freckled, Jewish, female) so hard, well, I guess I can give Pete Seeger credit for that (and other folk musicians of the time, through whose music I started to learn about all of that).

    And to PBS — I was watching TV unsupervised when I was too young to do so and saw a documentary on the Klan, and another one called Shoah, about WWII. Heavy stuff when you’re five years old. I grew up fearing two things: the Klan and Nazis; my nightmares were composed of them.

    The (black) civil rights movement of the ’60s was doing the right thing. It was a natural extension of making right in the world what had been wrong for far too long. The Jews in WWII Europe dealt with their own versions of Jim Crow laws (Nuremburg laws); as a kid, these were not different to me, but inextricably intertwined. The fight for social justice and equality for all is everyone’s responsibility, regardless of faith, flavor, race, creed or color.

    I realize I’ve rambled a bit. It’s late. I think you get my point. I do. It’s all civil rights. Emphasis on right, which is what stuff needs to be made. If there’s injustice, it needs to be fought. No cape, no tights, just like Teddy Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”


    1. i completely agree. rights are rights. there’s no reason why one group should have them and another not. im just saying the current gay rights movement and the 60s civil rights movements are not the same and are not addressing the same levels of discrimination. more directly, i found the tone of the article im replying to to be a poor tool for building bridges and gaining allies between the two communities.


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