Friday, November 5, 2010

A response, With a friend being abused...

Responding to the emotive wielding of stereotypes and generally abusive conversation...

Alright. Given that I'm seeing a friend being unjustly abused by those over-eager to use broad brushes inappropriately and more interested in the abuse of stereotypes than in exploring the diversity of individual experience and celebrating the differences therein, I'll join this little party at the end of a long and cranky-making work-week.

First off, my "chops". I'm a gay man. I've been one for a good long while now - and no, I am not older than dirt, despite allegations to the contrary. Second, I've been around the block a time or three - I've co-chaired a Pride Parade, chaired security/safety for one, helped found a Pink Pistols chapter, served on a couple of community boards, and helped lead a protest or two.

I've been (and am) a plaintiff in a civil rights lawsuit, acted as a mentor to the leader of a new civil rights group in my area, and just completed a run for elective office. I've had friends bashed, been a bar bouncer and sorted out bashers (and general issue idiots), and spent more than my fair share of time in and around gay bars specifically and the LGBT community generally. I'm old enough and have been out long enough to remember, and miss even as I'm pleased with the lack of driving need, the gay ghettos of the past.

In short, this ain't my first rodeo, and I'm pretty darned sure that I can identify and, if necessary, deal with bigotry both up close and at a distance.

First off, tolerance is all we get to demand.

And it's one hell of an improvement, and we should be grateful to queens of Stonewall, the leather folks, and the drag community (and THEIR predecessors) for the huge progress we've seen as a community since WWII and specifically within the last twenty years.

We don't get to demand that folks like us (or hate us, which of course would be particularly silly). We get to demand that they damned well keep their paws to themselves, that they mind their own damned business (i.e., what consenting and competent adults do amongst themselves sexually is none of anybody elses business outside of an absolutely tiny number of circumstances), we get to demand equality before the law (including an end to DADT & DOMA [and the variously named offshoots thereof]). Peoples minds and feelings, so long as they conform with the above, are none of our business.

Secondly, Newbius, a careful sort, very cautiously refuses to attempt mind-reading as a hobby. He comments on directly observed behaviors in his personal experience rather than on second or third hand data. He acknowledges the limits of his data. Given the lack of verifiable data about the mental state of those he has observed (or that any of us observe) the very most he can with any certainty claim to have seen is "outward tolerance" short of public declarations of affection at one level or another (which many American and other subcultures do not encourage).

His experience is that Republicans of his personal acquaintance do not have an issue with LGBT folks. Dandy. Could be, just perhaps, that you and he are not dealing with the same Republicans. Could be they don't cut Republicans out with cookie-cutters such that they all fit the same mold. Might even be that the GOP is changing from what it was 10, 15, 20 years (or longer) ago...

Dandy. That he honestly relates his experience and observations thus far is reason to attack him?

Next off, as a libertarian lawfully gun-owning gay guy cursed with an activist streak I struggle to control...I've had occasion to play with a pretty wide array of conservative folks...and as a former pride co-chair and as a community member, perhaps an above average number of opportunities for personal growth and appreciation of diversity.

I've walked the walk, and tried when practical to bridge the gap, between both communities - at least partly because I believe they have an awful lot to offer each other.

And I've seen the saints and the bastards on both sides. And frankly, I've seen more tolerance - more willingness to stretch a mind or to tolerate a different viewpoint more often - amongst the gun-folks and the conservatives, particularly and especially in the under-40 crowed (though by no means exclusively) than I have run into on average among liberal/progressive crowd for those who dare to think or believe differently, or make choices outside of that particular philosophical norm.

And I can't count the number of times, on hearing of a gay bashing or a close call, that a conservative straight friend expresses a deep desire that the LGBT person had been armed....and reduced the number of bigots on planet precipitously. Or the number of gun-folks that I know that go out of their way, spending time and cash to teach firearms use and safety to folks generally, and to women and lgbt folks particularly. Not precisely an indication of "I hate ".

In neither case do I claim universality, nor do I claim to have engaged in extensive scientific studies. I merely relate my experience.

My experience is that, per capita, the ratio of bigots, elitists, and hypocrites per capita is far higher among the liberal/progressive crowd than among conservatives generally and the more libertarian-oriented specifically.

Your mileage may vary.


Libertarian=Member of the Libertarian Party or a grammatical issue. Usage should indicate which.

libertarian=shorthand for "someone that believes society is best served by folks, particularly governmental folks, minding their own damned business and leaving the unconsenting alone to the extent practical". Much easier to spell, and fewer keystrokes to boot.


Daphne said...

I appreciate that you left your response in defense of Newbius at my site.

I can't speak for Andy's response, but he's new at my place and has no history of Newbius. He took his words as unfriendly and intolerant of gay people without taking a minute to clarify his intent or position.

To be honest, one of his sentences set my teeth on edge. I judged it as condoning cloaked bigotry and intolerance.

I've had numerous fights and lost more than a few readers when I've defended the human rights of my fellow gay citizens or attacked conservative pundits who've espoused hateful anti-gay bigotry.

I feel very badly that one of my readers needed this sort of righteous defense on my site. I try to run a fair kind of open conversation in my threads and I'm sorry it ended up with your well written rebuttal.

Gay_Cynic said...

Daphne -

Out of simple fairness, I'll copy this over to your blog since that is where I opened fire in non-archival fashion.

Thank you. Your response gives this Cynic a bit of hope, as most commonly I observe these conversations degenerate into napalm-coated stand-offs (whether I'm a participant, or simply reading along)that merely promote hostility and handicap understanding.

One of the problems we face today, IMHO, is talking *past* each other rather than with each other...and one of the most important lessons I've learned (and still struggle with) is target verification..with one of the best phrasings I've run into "Son, before you call a man crazy, ask him what he means..."

Again, thank you for your graciousness.


Newbius said...

For the record, I despise bigotry of all kinds. That someone would choose to argue against their perception of what I said, rather than what I actually DID say, bothers me more than a little.

For far too long, we have allowed other people to define our positions for us. We have allowed people to color their perceptions with stereotypes that were not of their own making. We have been played against each other for decades, in order to keep entrenched interests in power. It is well past time to break the cycle. Words mean things. But, sometimes they just mean what they say, not what we think they say.

G_C, thank you for the defense. I really do appreciate it.

Daphne, thank you for your grace in helping to defuse an ugly situation.

Old NFO said...

I know Newbius personally, and he doesn't buy into stereotyping, nor does he use generalities... He's good at researching his points and positions and straightforward in his comments/responses.