Saturday, 11 August 2012

When LGBT Activists Become The Bad Guys

Lots of people know about the Stonewall Riots but less people know about the homophile movement, including such groups as the Mattachine Society, who were around at the same time. The reason for this is that the Stonewall riots were not approved of by these more mainstream LG organisations. This disapproval ultimately cost the homophiles the support of LGBT people in great numbers as they, rightly, regarded the Stonewall riots as just violence against unjust actions by the local authorities.

Ever since then there has been a great deal of conflict between LGBT folk willing to take radical action (such as Peter Tatchell and OUTRAGE) and those who work in less provocative ways (like Stonewall, although I suppose being absolutely useless is pretty provocative to some). From the Compton's Cafeteria riots and the Stonewall riots, we have incidents such as the White Night riots, the various antics of the UK Gay Liberation Front and more frivolous incidents such as when lesbian activists invaded the BBC newsroom. We should not overlook the importance of these radical (and often violent) actions in support of LGBT rights. Most of the great leaps forward have come through peaceful legal or political action, but these radical actions kept the spirit alight during the darker days. There is a time and place for both types of action.

But things are really coming to something when radical action involves spray-painting "Tastes Like Hate" on a fast food outlet, or bullying people in entry-level jobs (whilst lying about your sexuality, Harvey Milk would NOT be proud) or it involves being dicks to a homeless guy reading a Bible. When did our righteous anger at injustice become so petty, so hateful and so anti-intellectual? Radical actions these were not.

We need a new rule for LGBT activism: don't be dicks. Look at how the least appealing members of the anti-LGBT movement act and DO NOT COPY THEM. It's really quite straight forward. Do sit-ins, kiss-ins, protests and marches. Be respectful but clear and direct. You don't need to be angels but try not to be the sort of person any decent individual would cross the road to avoid.

It really isn't that hard, is it?

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist

No comments: