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Protest In NYC

Jim Burroway

November 13th, 2008

Huge numbers of people — estimates range widely from 3,000 to 10,000 — converged at the Mormon Temple in New York City to protest the passage of California’s Proposition 8. JoeMyGod was there, and he has a great roundup.

One good question which has arisen out of these protests is this: where were all of these people before the election? I think I have one piece of an answer that I will set about to put into words this weekend. But Dan Savage, who was also at the NYC protest, has a very different perspective that I had never thought of before:

Gay people generally aren’t the placard-waving, bomb-throwing, chaps-wearing, communion-wafer-stomping radicals we’re made out to be by the Bills O’Reilly and Donohue. Most gays and lesbians are content to be left to alone; many gays and lesbians go out of their way to ignore political threats and political activism and political activists. Only when gays and lesbians are attacked—only after the fact—do gays and lesbians take to the streets. Remember: the Stonewall Riots were are a response to a particularly brutal and cruelly-timed (we’d just buried Judy!) police raid on a gay bar in New York City; ACT-UP and Queer Nation were a response not to the AIDS virus, but to a murderous indifference on the parts of the political and medical establishment that amounted to an attack.

Most gay people grow up desperately trying to pass, to blend in; most of us flee to cities where we can live our lives in relative peace and security. We don’t go looking for fights. And most gay people walk around without realizing that they’ve internalized the dynamics of high school hells some of us barely survived: it’s better to pass, to stay out of sight, to avoid making waves, lest you attract negative attention, lest you get bashed.

But once you get bashed, once someone else throws the first punch, then you fight back—what other choice do you have?

Comments

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MirrorMan
November 13th, 2008 | LINK

I am not, by nature, a confrontational person, most probably because of the very reasons Mr. Savage has stated (whom I personally admire, BTW). But he is right about one thing. You throw a punch or make an attack, and you deserve what you get, and trust me, it WON’T be pretty!

AJD
November 13th, 2008 | LINK

I think he’s right in a lot of ways, but I don’t agree that gays (I know it’s not PC, but I use the term interchangeably with “GLBT,” not just for gay men) only fight back in reaction. The Stonewall riots touched off a wave of gay activism that lasted through the 70s and 80s.

I think the problem is that we’ve become really complacent and comfortable in the last few years. With gay-themed TV shows and various celebrities coming out and increasing acceptance among young people, it’s kind of easy to forget that we are now forbidden to marry in 30 states, and several others don’t offer us any protection from discrimination or hate crimes, to say nothing of our lack of such protection at the federal level.

I think that if anything, the passage of Prop. 8 has imploded the safety bubble a lot of us thought we had (including even me, despite my long-running dissatisfaction with the tame state of gay rights activism). This should really wake a lot of us up to how badly we’re getting screwed around the country, no matter how well Nielsen rates Ellen’s talk show or “Will and Grace.”

paul J stein
November 13th, 2008 | LINK

I educated a lot of ignorant guys in high school by beating the shit out of them when they decided to attempt to bully me. Mind you this was 1973 and I was one 13yo in a school of over 2000. Now my friends have to think about it to remember that I’m gay. I don’t “act” gay,whatever that would mean. I repair almost anything, #200, 6’2′, build cars, all that supposedly macho stuff. I do get VERY militant about my rights when someone who does not know me or my sexual orientation makes a comment that I deem offensive to myself or any non-straight person. If I’m not as visible as some of my fellow gays it’s not that I’m not working the room one way or another. I’m open and proud and make it known if it’s necessary. My vehicles are flagged out, not as much as some but visible. I have a lot of support from Mormon church members/friends who do NOT follow everything that is sent down from SLC. We need to work the crowd personally from a point of who we know and how they know us. That’s where the change will take place for a lasting result.

cowboy
November 13th, 2008 | LINK

Oh gee, last night I got invited to a Mormon shindig this coming Saturday; a night out with my neighbors at the local bowling alley!

Not the atmosphere I would think a group of Mormons would take a family-oriented party to…but since we no longer have smoking allowed in the bowling alley I guess…why not?

I just wonder what my fellow Saints in the Ward would think if I sat back, between my turns at throwing the ball down the lane and I took swigs from a long-necked Bud?

So, I go to our protest in the morning and then end the night with my Mormon friends?

Could be interesting.

(** I wouldn’t really drink the beer. And I have to find a bright-pink bowler’s shirt by Saturday.)

paul J stein
November 13th, 2008 | LINK

You can drink a beer, just not to excess. I had many hard cider meetings with the members of the priesthood at the farm. Have fun! The members make up the church, not the elders in SLC. Hug a Missionary for me!

cooner
November 13th, 2008 | LINK

I think we shouldn’t forget, from what I’ve seen, that we’re getting a lot of support from non-gay friends at these rallys and on the Internets as well.

If that’s the case, I think similarly, a lot of these people may not have felt the strong motivation to make a strong statement before, since it didn’t affect them directly, but once the actually SAW Prop 8 and the other measures pass and so profoundly impact their gay friends and family, they also felt the urge to take it to the streets.

Just a thought.

elaygee
November 13th, 2008 | LINK

Take the offensive and make a lot of noise and cause traffic jams and be as inconvenient as possible or no one gives a damn. Make a nuisance of yourself, be in the way and scream real loud or they will just ignore your pleas for equality.

KipEsquire
November 13th, 2008 | LINK

Here’s my video of the event. :-)

Suricou Raven
November 13th, 2008 | LINK

The Christian news organisations are getting into the swing of reporting now – they are already running everything from ‘homosexuals are racists’ to my personal favourate, ‘homosexual radicals attack church.’ And, of course, *many* articles saying that homosexuals are the intolerant ones, being disrespectful of religious freedom.

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