Oct. 11th in DC: Equality or Egoism?

[First off, sorry for the lag in posts. I am now officially settled in my new job at Oberlin College which means the blog is coming back to life!]

There has been a lot of exciting talk about the equality march in Washington D.C. this October. I’m always up for starting a required ruckus. My question is, is this required or redundant?

In anticipation of this magic march I started to ask what this “equality” event is about. Cleve Jones says he wants “full and equal protection” in “all matters” which is awesome, but from what I can find marriage is the only issue specifically mentioned anywhere. Last time I checked, marriage rights and equality are not the same thing. Well, not unless you’re the HRC.

How much of this event is for “equality” and how much is about egos? Everyone knows there is a certain amount of hip-ness to being the underdog. And while I’m glad people are getting involved, people aren’t much help when they’re all glory and no guts.

Cleve Jones is hoping the march will launch a “new chapter” in the queer rights movement. I agree with him in saying a grassroots method is better for stirring change than a fancy dinner could ever be, but I can’t help but be question this particular effort. I would love to see a population, stirred by a mass rally, returning home to work hard on local issues, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Queers, particularly younger ones, are drawn to the concept of gaining some sort of status by saying “I was there.” More than likely, people will attend the march, feel special (which is worth something, I’ll admit), yell a lot, and then return home to business as usual leaving us worker bees in the same spot we’ve been in for years.

The reality is while Cleve Jones and David Mixner are calling coast to coast for “equality” in regards to the finer things, us queers in the Midwest are scraping by on their scraps of corporate gay media and rainbow stickers. We’re struggling to survive coming out, scavenging resources from the “liberal” spaces we only get to visit, and formulate something like a community out of a suffocating bar scene. It’s all well and good for people to funnel time and money into going to Washington to talk about marriage because they don’t have to worry about the bread and water of queer identity: safety and space. They steal the closest thing we have to a motivatable workforce and use up what little juice they have on a rally that won’t end up doing shit for us. To quote Bil Browning: “the coastal queers are willing to sacrifice us…” for the sake of a happy, government sanctioned, home-life.

One could argue that the march is about the bigger picture, for recognition of queers as citizens of this country, which I guess is how I would think about it if I wasn’t so jaded. For this march, I am hoping for visibility, I am hoping for media coverage, I am hoping for change in my own community. I am expecting nothing.

x-posted on Amplify

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