|Photo by Del Rapier ©2009|
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