Sunday, June 14, 2009
Let's Try This Again
The following is the text of a comment I posted at The Atlantic earlier today:
I was a glbt activist voice online in the 90s and early part of this decade. One of the reasons I pulled back is that I thought glbt interest groups were not consistent and were more interested in access, and cocktail parties, than change.
My biggest gripe with the 'gay rights establishment' was the hypocrisy over who they officially chose to mourn, and get angry about. Matthew Shepard was the death that galvanized everyone. That was correct to do. But what about Sakia Gunn (pictured above), the 15-year old African-American lesbian murdered in Newark in 2003? What about Steven Goedereis, a 29-year old man, murdered the same year Shepard was? His 2 teen killers alleged that the victim came onto him. It was the same old 'gay panic' motive, which was not supported by evidence and turned out to be a blatant lie. This man was targeted, and stomped so badly that blood shot up to an overhang. At the highly publicized trial, not one representative from a glbt organization could even be bothered to attend. I remember Mr. Goedereis' surviving partner contacting me and thanking me for being the only one that seemed to take an interest in the case.
Where was the outrage for the other victims of gay hate crimes, some of which made national headlines, but garnered no publicity, unlike Shepard. What about the murder of African-American gay man, James Byrd, who was dragged from the back of a truck? No, the only one worthy of the glbt collective anger was Matthew Shepard. But then, he looked like the people you would see in the glbt magazines. I found it disheartening, to say the least.
In the interim I have focused more on progressive politics in general, in another incarnation, I had been an avid blogger for Mr. Obama. I have seen how well that turned out.
It was Pat Buchanan's Culture Wars speech that first caused me to come out and become an activist. It is the current President's DOJ brief on DOMA that makes me realize that maybe glbt issues should be back in focus.
At the moment, I do not have any cocktail parties to distract me from speaking out.