Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Real Dignity Before False Unity

Much has been made of Barack Obama's invitation of anti-gay Brokeback... um, I mean SADDLEback Church pastor Rick Warren to deliver a convocation at Obama's inauguration.

Obama is free to invite who he pleases, and those who are displeased with his choice are free to criticize it. We at Outright take no pleasure in seeing that our well-rooted concern that the Obama Administration would throw LGBTQ Americans under the bus will be commencing literally from the first hour of his administration.

There has been much debate over the situation, some valid and some merely rhetorical. Comparisons to racist pastors have been made -- and they have some validity. If Obama is seeking to "unite" the country, including all bigots fearful of his administration, then the most magnanimous step he could take would be to invite some racist leaders, such as David Duke or Louis Farrakhan, to the event as speakers.

That would doubtlessly invite controversy. African Americans and supporters of equal treatment under the law would doubtlessly disapprove across all three national political parties and independents alike. But such a move, given Obama's status as America's first African American president, would have validity and meaning, and would represent true courage in underscoring his commitment to "dialogue with all." It would represent true sacrifice on the part of the president-elect.

Throwing gay people to the wolves is far less "courageous," and resembles something more akin to what Bill Clinton would have done. It's easy for a powerful heterosexual man to demand sacrifice from LGBTQ people who have already lost so much -- their family rights in the largest state in the country, their jobs in the military, and even their physical safety in brutal and traumatizing assaults like the recent gang rape of a gay woman in San Francisco. LGBTQ people have "sacrificed" far too much, and for this powerful man to demand further sacrifice from them when he has sacrificed literally nothing is staggering to behold.

The reality? Barack Obama's shameless pandering to homophobia in his inauguration is an inexcusable demand that gay Americans exchange their dignity as individuals for a phony feel-good "unity" around a vision of America where LGBT Americans are on the outside looking in. This is NOT "change we can believe in" -- it is rather "more of the same."

With this in mind, I'd like to turn more of my attention to the wheedling and excuse-making by LGBT Obama partisans like Atlantic columnist Andrew Sullivan and pop singer Melissa Etheridge.

Etheridge opines:

Maybe in our anger, as we consider marches and boycotts, perhaps we can consider stretching out our hands. Maybe instead of marching on his church, we can show up en mass and volunteer for one of the many organizations affiliated with his church that work for HIV/AIDS causes all around the world.

Maybe if they get to know us, they wont fear us.

Sullivan adds that:

The journey that Melissa Etheridge has taken is my own... we are the ones we have been waiting for.

While it's sad (if not nauseating) to watch these two grown people fawn over their hero selling them (and us) down the river again, I'm reminded of something my mother taught me many years ago.

If you have to "prove" you're a good person, the person demanding that proof isn't.

Rather than go down this path of "reaching out" to bigots who had, until just a couple of days ago, posted lists of people who may not join their church (including "homosexuals")... Rather than fawn over Obama's Clintonian ways... Rather than spit out his trite one-liners... we have a real choice this holiday season.

Let us do what we have always done and contribute to our communities in the ways we always have -- without an agenda of "proving" ourselves "worthy" of the admiration of bigots. Let us stand up and refuse to be thrown under the bus along with Obama's late grandmother, Obama's pastor, Obama's Chicago mentor, and every other individual he's sacrificed in his unrelenting thirst for power.

Rather than take yet another for "the team" (which never really seeks to include LGBTQ people as out and equal partners), let's just tell the truth: Obama's demand for our reticence, and his partisans' glorifying of Warren's ideology as an opportunity for "dialogue" is an insulting, condescending and inexcusable embrace of homophobia. And further, let us deliver a message to both Obama and his bigoted base: we seek unity as Americans and as vigorous participants in a free society, but we shall never do so at the cost of our own dignity.

Those who demand otherwise seek power for themselves, not promise for America, and they should be held to account. So long as such attitudes enjoy a position of prominence in strategies of the American president, this country's promise shall remain elusive.