Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On Race and Sexuality

I didn’t even need a new post in order to have another response to Heathen Republican. This time, I want to focus on a point he attempted to make in his post regarding race and sexuality, because I think it’s an important idea to address.

First, a quote, to sort of illustrate the issue I’m discussing here:

The left likes to compare the same-sex marriage debate as equivalent to racial discrimination in the past, but that’s a false analogy and an insult to blacks. There are no gay/straight restrooms; no gay/straight drinking fountains; no gay/straight lunch counters; gays are not required to sit in the back of the bus; gays are allowed to vote; gays are not subject to segregation; and gays have never been enslaved.

I’m not sure people “equate” it, so much as people compare the two, finding analogies and connections which may help an individual see something in a different light. There are plenty of people who are openly hostile or uncomfortable with homosexuality, and the black community in particular is notoriously unfriendly to gay people (owing largely to the increased religiosity of black people).

But is there even a comparison? HR thinks not, and lists very specific criteria for prejudice: gay people don’t have special restrooms, drinking fountains, lunch counters, or bus seating. Gay people never had to fight for the right to vote, they were not enslaved, and they were supposedly never segregated (just treated differently in a systematic and legal sense).

Personally, I think prejudice has a larger definition that this.

So, I decided to compile my own list, only in the reverse. Being black was not diagnosed as a disease as recently as 1973. Kids are not sent by their parents to camps in order to have the black prayed (or beaten or electrically shocked) out of them. Black people aren’t kicked out of the Boy Scouts. Being black won’t disqualify you from adopting children with many agencies.

But wait, there’s more. There has been a black president. And black people could legally have sex before a 2003 Supreme Court ruling, which finally struck down sodomy laws which are still on the books in several US states. But most importantly, gay people aren’t born to gay parents in a gay community that makes them feel like they belong.

You really cannot quantify what it must be like to be born different in that way. While gay and black people also suffer from a lack of public role models, gay people are at a decided disadvantage in the personal realm. Even church, the one social network that supposedly takes in the victimized (and the one which many minorities fall back on), will endlessly judge the gay individual.

Black people also enjoy legal protection gay people do not. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not cover sexual orientation, and this is part of why is has remained legal to discriminate against gay individuals, most notably in the US military. Still, any business can choose to fire an individual solely for being gay without fear of violating that individual’s constitutionally protected rights, because sexual orientation is not constitutionally protected.

But ultimately, it’s not a dick measuring contest between black people and gay people (picture that image…).

I have no interest in proving black people have it worse than gay people, or vice versa. There is no need for an equivalency. Each is in a unique situation, though they share the characteristic of being in unenviable positions, both historically and under the current status quo. It’s not about discussing which I would rather be or which has it worse, because those who are simply are, and they can’t change it.

They do share similar experiences. Both black people and gay people have been banned from getting legally married (though we rectified that for black people), both have had the Bible used to justify ill treatment, and both get blamed for AIDS. And both black people and gay people are known for dancing well.

I don’t know how to close, but I have one more thing I want to say to HR and people like HR, who feel there’s hostility from the left. When you actively oppose people being treated equally… it pisses people off. I see so much whining about how mean the left is while reading right-leaning blogs, as if words carry any sort of real consequences outside of the delicate psyches of our poor, thin-skinned right-wing friends.

If you want to legally complicate the lives of others, don’t act surprised and appalled when you get criticized. You’re certainly entitled to complain about being criticized for being a bigot, but it makes you appear to be a whiney, privileged bigot. “Oh poor me, some fags who can’t get married and start a family because of people like me are saying rude things. The nerve!” What a victim…

I mean, talk about a false equivalency. If you think gay people don’t have it as bad as black people, then I have news for you: us white males definitely don’t have it as bad as gay people or black people, and yet we complain just as much. At least I complain on behalf of other people, because I can plainly see I’m doing fine.

And yet, nothing elicits a loud response from a right-winger like seeing other people happy (or possibly made happy). I’m fairly certain these right-wingers only experience joy when seeing other people miserable. Is it just me, or are conservatives not content with their own accomplishments, but instead require schadenfreude from witnessing the struggles of others?

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