Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Brody's Scribbles... Gay Liberation Front: Manifesto. Have We Made Progress Since 1971? (Part 6)

By Tim Trent (Dartmouth, England) MAR 9 | A reader commented yesterday that there is a better manifesto than the Gay Liberation Front Manifesto from 1971. The comment is absolutely right and is hugely valuable, showing progress in thinking about what we require and deserve. The words added yesterday are a far better manifesto, albeit specific in scope to the USA. It should be global. And it is worth reproducing here before today's discussion:
The Gay Manifesto embraces the following five proven scientific facts about Gay and Lesbian Americans:
  • Fact — Homosexuality is a normal, natural and unchangeable sexual orientation.
  • Fact — Homosexuality has always existed at a fixed percentage throughout human evolution.
  • Fact — Homosexuality is present in all animal species including the human species.
  • Fact — Homosexuality is an immutable and infallible biological construct of nature.
  • Fact — Homosexuality is necessary for human existence and the perpetuation of the human species.
As such:
The Gay Manifesto demands full and unconditional equality in every area of life. Gay and Lesbian Americans will not be barred from fully realizing the freedoms constitutionally guaranteed to every citizen of this great country.
The Gay Manifesto demands the immediate end to political parties using Gay and Lesbian issues as a wedge for garnering votes and campaign contribution. The Democratic and Republican parties have made billions exploiting Gay and Lesbian Americans and have no interest in securing our equality. Gay and Lesbian Americans demand equality and will actively remove candidates incapable of delivering legislative results furthering that goal.
The Gay Manifesto demands that corporations provide equal access to Gay and Lesbian employees in securing employment protections and full benefits for their families. America is a grand capitalist society where Gay and Lesbian money will only support businesses valuing Gay and Lesbian rights and full equality for all Americans. Corporations with policies contrary to true American values will adapt or face product boycotts and civil actions.
The Gay Manifesto demands the forfeiture of public entitlements and special privileges for any religious institution condemning Gay and Lesbian Americans. These organizations promote a contrary opinion to proven scientific facts and the laws of nature, encourage ignorance within the public domain and are hostile towards the most fundamental of American values…freedom from oppression.
It's strong and to the point. I'd modify it to embrace all nations, but it's fine otherwise.
And it's appropriate to today's segment of the GLF 1971 item. Today we're looking at Words:
Anti-homosexual morality and ideology, at every level of society, manifest themselves in a special vocabulary for denigrating gay people. There is abuse like 'pansy', 'fairy', 'lesbo' to hurl at men and women who can't or won't fit stereotyped preconceptions. There are words like 'sick', 'bent' and 'neurotic' for destroying the credence of gay people. But there are no positive words. The ideological intent of our language makes it very clear that the generation of words and meanings is, at the moment, in the hands of the enemy. And that so many gay people pretend to be straight, and call each other 'butch dykes' or 'screaming queens only makes that fact the more real.
The verbal attack on men and women who do not behave as they are supposed to, reflects the ideology of masculine superiority. A man who behaves like a woman is seen as losing something, and a woman who behaves like a man is put down for threatening men's environment of their privileges.
Here it is clear that we have made negative progress. There are so many pejorative expressions in use today that have entered common parlance since those days. I could fill the entire article with words and phrases and still come back tomorrow to complete it.
One thing that has changed for the better is the fact that fewer and fewer of us conceal our homosexuality, or, as the manifesto says, 'pretend to be straight'. Fewer of us feel the need to appear homophobic in order to fit in, to survive.
There is something we do perpetuate to this day and we do it ourselves. We use the word 'straight' to describe non homosexual people. It should have struck me before, but it only hit me between the eyes when I italicised the phrase in the paragraph above. 'Straight' compared to what?
The answer is 'bent'.
So we create our own inferiority still. We do it in chat rooms, in emails, on forums, in stories. We do it talking with our 'straight' friends. And I have suddenly been filled with loathing for the word.
I am not bent. I am not abnormal. I am as straight and proud as the next man. I just happen to be homosexual. I've no idea if he is or not, nor do I care.
Suddenly I'm unsure about Gay/Straight Alliances in schools. I'm not unsure about the value they bring, I'm unsure of the name. I never wholly espoused 'gay' as a useful word, though it has a nicer feel to it than 'homosexual', but I deployed 'straight' without giving it a thought before today. And the opposite is me. I am not bent.
I'd been heading in the direction of slapping the That's So Gay brigade, leading up to showing you this:
I was going to say how useless that advert was if shown to the 16 year olds being shown as idiots in the clip, but how useful it is to show it to 12 year olds so they can comment on the fuckwittedness of the 16 year olds it portrays, and choose not to use the phrase for themselves.
That message is still fine, the phrase should be eliminated, but we're fighting an odd battle. And to win it we need to lose words we choose that give us automatic inferiority. 'Straight' must go.
We've gone backwards here.