Us­ing the gay com­mu­nity as po­lit­i­cal cover

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

“We can be both grate­ful and crit­i­cal of our lead­ers at the same time. The hard work of the or­ga­ni­za­tions and peo­ple who forced the po­lit­i­cal class to take us se­ri­ously shouldn’t get to be used as cover. We know what it is like to be on the re­ceiv­ing end of bad gov­ern­ment pol­icy.”

For the first time ever, the politics of LGBT folks, and our sup­port­ers, are be­ing taken se­ri­ously. It is harder to win an elec­tion nowa­days with­out tak­ing the rights of LGBT peo­ple se­ri­ously, even if you merely pan­der to­ward gay rights while also sup­port­ing a tsunami of leg­is­la­tion in­clud­ing con­ver­sion ther­apy, bath­room non­sense, and what peo­ple like to call “re­li­gious free­dom”.

But for Democrats in par­tic­u­lar, ob­ser­vance of the LGBT com­mu­nity is a pre­req­ui­site to run­ning for of­fice. You would have seen it last week at the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion, as politi­cian af­ter politi­cian fi­nally con­ve­niently joined most of the coun­try in back­ing our ba­sic ex­is­tence as a group, led by Hil­lary Clin­ton, who, if my Face­book feed is any­thing to go by, has led the fight for our peo­ple her whole life.

This has ob­vi­ous up­sides. Politi­cians who sup­port us, even if they are re­cent con­verts, are likely to vote in fa­vor of things like non-dis­crim­i­na­tion in terms of em­ploy­ment and hous­ing, and less likely to en­cour­age, and cam­paign on, the afore­men­tioned leg­isla­tive tidal wave.

But it has ob­vi­ous down­sides too. We are now worn as a badge of honor, to prove pro­gres­sive cred­i­bil­ity—even when that cred­i­bil­ity is used for aw­ful pur­poses.

Any­one who has fol­lowed Clin­ton’s ca­reer, for ex­am­ple, knows she is a lit­tle trig­ger happy when it comes to send­ing troops into the rest of the world, or ma­nip­u­lat­ing the per­son­nel of brown coun­tries’ gov­ern­ments. It be­comes a lot eas­ier to ex­cuse that sort of life-de­stroy­ing be­hav­ior when she’s back­ing a lot of things to be done on our be­half.

The same can be said for other Democrats, in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Obama, who has been great for us, but also re­spon­si­ble for the deaths of civil­ians dur­ing the US’ con­stant war in the Mid­dle East.

That doesn’t go away be­cause he came out for gay mar­riage. Clin­ton’s march in the New York City Pride pa­rade doesn’t undo an Iraq War vote that killed hun­dreds of thou­sands, her sup­port for Saudi Ara­bia, her em­pow­er­ment of a mur­der­ous Hon­duran regime, or the fact that Libya is cur­rently in in­ten­sive care, and look­ing even more poorly.

This ex­tends far be­yond the cur­rent pres­i­den­tial can­di­date – these are merely ex­am­ples of how LGBT rights are bizarrely used to re­fute al­le­ga­tions of other wrong­do­ing, and we, as peo­ple who know prej­u­dice, should be aware of be­ing used as props to en­cour­age shitty be­hav­ior. For a more ex­plicit in­stance, even Don­ald Trump pan­dered to LGBT peo­ple in the wake of the mas­sacre in Or­lando, when he used vi­o­lence against us to shit all over the con­sti­tu­tion and bash Mus­lims.

Let’s not pre­tend that all is okay with our gov­ern­ment and the world be­cause some of our fights are “in” right now. Let’s not ex­cuse what our gov­ern­ment does be­cause we’re on the Demo­cratic team. Let’s not al­low mis­treat­ment of trans im­mi­grants be­cause the Jus­tice Depart­ment is on our side in North Carolina, or ex­cuse the ca­su­al­ties of in­no­cents over­seas be­cause Democrats came out against con­ver­sion ther­apy.

We can be both grate­ful and crit­i­cal of our lead­ers at the same time. The hard work of the or­ga­ni­za­tions and peo­ple who forced the po­lit­i­cal class to take us se­ri­ously shouldn’t get to be used as cover. We know what it is like to be on the re­ceiv­ing end of bad gov­ern­ment pol­icy. Let’s not per­mit our­selves to be used to do it to oth­ers.

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