The Myth Busters Column
I recently had a visit from my dear friend Dr. James T. Sears and during our discussions regarding potential articles I should write he suggested that I begin a series on “Myth Busting”. The concept behind this being that the LGBT community really has been sold a bill of goods on so many fronts that it’s difficult to know where to begin.
On one hand, the internet is a wonderful thing because it gets the word out to almost everyone who knows how to use wisely. You can meet some of the wisest people through outlets like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. You can also meet some of the biggest jerks you’ll ever meet as well. Every corner and nook you turn on the internet for the LGBT community you can find fundamentalist Christians who are the most misinformed, vitriolic people you can find and the worst part is that their hateful speech toward us seems like the loving embrace of Jesus to these extremely stupid followers who listen to people like Pat Robertson, Bryan Fisher and the rest of the American Family Association, National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council.
The down-sides of the internet are that everyone suffers from information overload. I feel it myself constantly. I read more than 600 news articles a day. Most are regarding the LGBT community but many concern everyone such as the national budget debates, the choke-hold the Republicans have on Congress and their unwillingness to deal on a non-partisan basis and the horrendous problems of misinformation flowing from the fundamentalist Christians on a variety of subjects—not just the LGBT community.
The biggest down-side of the internet is that it’s made people just plain lazy. Let’s face it folks; why would people make the effort to go out and march in a protest effort when someone makes a petition online to assuage your inner-activist guilt? You can take 20 seconds, sign the petition and tell everyone at the local gay bar, “I’m an activist!”
The organizations that put these petitions out and call them “grass roots efforts” count on you not turning out in person. Haven’t you ever wondered why they almost always ask you for a donation immediately after you sign them? They give you several different methods to assuage your guilt while also satisfying your instant gratification factor and Bonus! You get to self-justify things to your friends that you are an activist! You even have the debit card bill to prove it!
I hate to break it to you but it takes a hell of a lot more than punching the keys on your computer to make you an activist. Just the thought that some people could think that a computer and a connection to the internet could make them a reactionary reminds me of that movie Wall-E where the people who were on that luxury space liner were fat and so used to having everything done for them that they played tennis and volleyball with a touchscreen.
Being an activist means getting out in the world and talking to people. It means finding an issue that not only gives you a passing nod inside your head that it’s right but sticks deep inside you and burns slowly so you can feel the smoldering inside you. You don’t want it to consume you, as many reactionary activists have written before, but you want it to nibble inside you and make you feel animated to the point where talking to people is not only something you have to do, it’s something you feel is no longer something you can avoid. When you are so well versed about the issue that impassions you that you convince your first convert then it feels like oil on a well-designed machine.
Being an LGBT activist means going into the Deep South States and know that if you’re protesting a State like Tennessee or Mississippi that you stand an excellent chance of being spat upon, have police put their police dogs on us, beat us and arrest us. In Southern States this is perfectly legal despite the lethal rumors in the “Blue” states that have LGBT protection laws where the communities in those states seem to think that every state enjoys protections.
That simply isn’t so.
In 29 states, mostly in the South, it’s still perfectly legal to fire a member of the LGBT community from their job simply for being LGBT unless their employer specifically states they have an LGBT inclusive non-discrimination policy and even then, if they did you fire you, you would have to sue them in federal court because the state would just pat the employer on the back, give them a cigar and tell them, “Way to go, Bubba!”
In those same 29 states it’s also legal to evict an LGBT person from their home if they’re renting once it’s discovered they are gay or transgender or even if you’re straight and have gay or transgender friends over for dinner, your landlord can evict you.
The police can arrest you if you’re queer in those states, too. They don’t need any other reason and if you don’t give them a good one, they’ll be happy to make one up for you. How about resisting arrest with violence? It doesn’t matter that they don’t have a reason for arresting you in the first place. I know in Florida that resisting arrest is a stand-alone charge that doesn’t need to be justified with any additional charge so I’m sure it’s similar in other states.
So when you want to tell me “I’m an activist!” You better tell me how many times you’ve gone against those kinds of odds and tried to change things but I honestly would take some convincing because it’s been a long time since I’ve seen LGBT activists with those kind of balls.
By Stephanie Donald
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