Friday, July 29, 2011

Community Unity

Photo by Del Rapier ©2009
I have been a part of the LGBTQ community for 11 years now.  Well, in all honesty, I've been a part of it all of my life.  I just didn't know it until 11 years ago.

In those 11 years I've done quite a bit in the world of activism working towards equality for everyone in our community.  I've been the treasurer and board member for Southern Oregon GLSEN; the librarian for the San Diego Gay and Lesbian Center, North County, back when they had a North County location; I helped to open the Hillcrest Youth Center; I've taken part in many panels for LGBTQ parents and have spoken to many a college classes about just being me.  I've also marched in many Gay Pride parades and ridden with Dykes On Bikes for several of those parades.

The one thing that I noticed within this community, and others, is the infighting that happens that does nothing but separate us.  What confuses me is that the people who participate in the infighting don't seem to see it as something that separates our community.  I remember constantly asking myself within all of my years of activism, "Aren't we supposed to be working together?  We're never going to get anywhere if we continue to fight amongst ourselves.  Put that energy towards the fight."  

Among the lesbians in my community there are many who feel that we all need to be a certain way.  I think "normal" is the word they tend to use.  Their idea of normal has always excluded me.  Specially amongst the feminists.  I am a feminist in the sense that I fight for equality between genders.  But for many feminists, I look like a man, therefore, I am some how against everything that feminism is fighting for.  That by being butch, using that word as an identity, claiming it as an identity, perpetuates the patriarchal control.  Through their eyes, I in no way shape or form help women or lesbians become liberated from such control.

This has always confused and frustrated me.  While I can see their side of it and understand where they're coming from, I certainly don't see them looking at it from my side.  I am not conforming to patriarchal control.  I, in my own way, snub the idea of patriarchal control by being myself.  By simply existing and claiming my space, defining myself and encouraging others to do the same.

No one can be liberated until we all are liberated.

We are a community of people fighting for equality and we will never win the fight until we can accept each other as equals and work together.

This morning I came across an article that hits the nail directly on the head in regards to this very idea.  Please take a moment to click over and read Ivan Coyote's piece about this on xtra.ca.  I really couldn't have said it better myself. 

"To meet the challenge of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. Each of us must learn to work not just for his, or her, own self, family or nation, but for the benefit of all mankind.” – His Holiness the Dalai Lama

10 comments:

  1. As soon as I started reading the section about infighting and "normal" I started thinking about the Ivan Coyote piece. Sure enough, you were thinking about it too... well said, the both of you.

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  2. Yes! To all things. The amount of frustrations I am having from within the gay community are so overwhelming these days (probably having to do with my job in the "gay media") that I just want to hide my head in the sand! Why are we trying to invalidate EACH OTHER?!

    AND FOR THE RECORD, as a feminist and a butch, I think anyone who says that butches are perpetuating the patriarchy is full of shit. I think, if anything, being a butch woman is, indeed, a feminist statement, because we are unapologetically taking the "hard road" by living our lives openly as butches. We get called "sir" and shrieked at in women's bathrooms, yet we are still representing a side of the female spectrum that is vastly underrepresented.

    Saying that butches are somehow "less than" or are "representing the community badly" is hateful, and I choose to give them the big middle finger and move on with my life.

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  3. Aw, I signed in wrong in the comment above. Hi, from AimeeG!

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  4. MakingSpace, thank you.

    Hi AimeeG!! I totally feel you and wondered if you were feeling the effects of it by working where you do. You're sort of right in the middle of everything. Also, I totally agree with you about being butch. It is a complete feminist statement.

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  5. It does suck that some people see the need to make themselves look better/more important/more correct by pushing other people aside. But, as we all know, that just makes a movement smaller, and not just in the physical sense of losing bodies.

    Folks who want to say butches cannot be feminists clearly haven't taken the time to get to know any of us. And, as a matter of fact, that ignores the larger concept of feminism entirely and that gender alone does not determine whether you can be a feminist or not. Plenty of women are not feminists and I know men who are. I think if a person is truly concerned with and supports the true cause of feminism, they'd know better than to cut people out of the movement because of gender or appearance. The people who play that exclusion game are not really feminists, they're playing a game and rigging it so they can win.

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  6. Making Space, once again, you're right where I'm at! I was reading this thinking, I wonder if this is shooting off from the Ivan Coyote article? Ha!

    I loved that article, and I love this blog!

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  7. It makes the movement more difficult because we're not united. I spent some time yesterday reading through all of the blog posts and press releases from both sides regarding the split and can understand both perspectives. Still, I think that there should be some mediation and both sides should be open to seeing the other side's reasons. I really believe that we're just not going to accomplish much by being split and fighting amongst ourselves. I can imagine, though, that most movements have happened this way.

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  8. are you sayin' the only feminists you've met are "feminine" or like "lipstick lesbians"?

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  9. No. I didn't say that at all. I'm saying that because I look like a man, and also more often then not pass as a man, I am somehow against everything feminism is fighting for.

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