Thursday, February 12, 2015

Nice promises, if you keep them.

Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, gave her State of the Movement Address at the Creating Change Conference last Friday. She made some interesting points, but the sort of points that movement leaders should spend less time telling us that they believe and more time showing us that they believe.

Carey made the following observation about freedom, with which, as far as it goes, I agree:

The greater good, the greater truth we hold is that freedom is not a zero sum game. Sadly, there are those who believe otherwise. But I believe that your life is not diminished by my freedom to be whole. And, my life is not diminished by your freedom to be whole. I don’t become less of a human if more of your humanity is recognized.
Nonetheless, much LGBT activism seems premised on the idea that freedom is a zero-sum game. We have developed a reputation for demanding our rights at the expense of others' rights, the cake police being a prominent example. The LGBT movement's devotion to "tolerance" has become a punchline among people who should be our natural allies.

She later says,

I believe we need a new agenda for the next decade, for the future — a new agenda for all LGBTQ people and our families — that recognizes the breath and the depth of all we face. And there is no one organization, there is no one person that can or should create that agenda. Rather it will be held by all of us and will require of all of us to envision it, to create it and to fulfill it.

Next month you'll be hearing from us and other organizations about a grassroots digital and in-person campaign called Our Tomorrow that will engage people across the country in a conversation about their hopes, fears and ideas to inform the future of the LGBTQ movement.

That would be a welcome change from the movement's S.O.P. When I was more involved in mainstream LGBT organizations than I am today, I noticed that movement leaders cultivated the sort of "diversity" that, while ensuring that all of the right boxes were checked, was free from diversity of viewpoint. Unsurprisingly, those organizations were echo chambers whose participants could not imagine that opinions outside of the group-certified orthodoxy could have validity and sometimes could not imagine that any authentic LGBT person could even hold such opinions.

As a result, many LGBT people feel disaffected from a movement that they see as not speaking for them or even as directly opposing their liberation. I am not talking only about people who believe that their identity categories are not represented. This will strike some people as heresy, but people lumped into the same identity category can have widely divergent perspectives, opinions, and needs. Any movement whose leaders aspire to speak for "all LGBTQ people and our families" must reach out to people holding those widely divergent perspectives, opinions, and needs, however distasteful the goodthinkful may find doing so.

1 comment:

Stark Expanse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.