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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/27/10

Time to Stop Blaming LGBT Allies

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James Hipps

As a gay man, I'm very involved in the struggle for LGBT equality, yet the actions I see from many in the LGBT community do not represent my values and beliefs, and in fact, I'm extremely embarrassed and disappointed by what I see happening and I feel this is a conversation that needs to take place.

There is a great degree of nearsightedness by those who are so eager to point fingers and direct blame, when this is a time we really need to step back and look at the big picture. This is a time for cohesiveness, not divisiveness. This is a time to support our allies, not rally against them, and I am talking about President Obama.

While I understand the frustration and anger and I don't fault people for being angry, I feel it's imperative to turn that anger into something good and productive, rather than using it to make asses out of yourself or the LGBT community.

There is a time and a place for everything, everything except disrespect. There is no excuse to show disrespect for the first American president who has ever even acknowledged the need for securing rights and equality for the LGBT community.

I am specifically speaking about the actions of the angry members of GetEQUAL, and those who support Lt. Dan Choi for chaining himself to the White House fence like he was Jesus Christ on the Crucifix while congress was trying to pass health insurance reform (something that affects and benefits all Americans). I am speaking to those who felt the need to heckle President Obama about Don't Ask Don't Tell during a fundraiser for Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Being selfish, self-centered or self-indulged isn't the answer here! STOP! Enough with the childish and disrespectful tactics. If you have to be disrespectful to someone, go heckle Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Maggie Gallagher or some other anti-gay politician or group that is working hard every day to make sure you never have equality!

Dan Choi and GetEQUAL need to get REAL! This is not about individuals. This is not about fame and how many times you appear on CNN! This is about equality! This is about issues that go far beyond Don't Ask Don't Tell and this most importantly should be about not acting like a second grade child who didn't get what they want for their birthday.

GROW UP, act like adults, show some respect and maybe you'll gain some. We can't lower ourselves to the level of the John Boehners and Joe Wilsons!

Yes, disrespect is a large part of my argument against your actions. Let me ask, do you respect people who are disrespectful towards you? Respect is a two-way street. Interrupting the President, who is the only President to ever move on LGBT equality, is completely out of line and disrespectful. On the contrary to your beliefs that disrespect is somehow a motivator, you're wrong! Disrespect in that manor is counterproductive, to say the least.

I have been personally attacked by members of the LGBT community for showing support for our president and many have made the assumption that I've never had to fight for rights or equality. I was fired for being gay in 2003 and in the state of Florida, there is no means of legal recourse. I have experienced hate and discrimination first had on several occasions, yet I'm not so shallow to I think this is about me. This is about a group of tax-paying American citizens who are legally being discriminated against, no different than the Jews, Blacks, Irish, Catholics, Asians, women and Latinos. However, I am well aware of my history and know the people who historically come out ahead are the ones who chose a peaceful. MLK was a great man. He led a great cause and accomplished many great things. Did he get angry, I'm sure he did, however the difference is how he put that anger to use. The anger I see at these LGBT protest is the same anger I see in the eyes of those vehemently opposed to LGBT rights. It's the same anger I see on the faces of terrorist. It's the same anger I see from right wing extremist and tea-partiers. It's the same vile verbiage and rhetoric that's spewed against the LGBT community from those on the other side of the coin.

Many have drawn comparisons between the Civil Rights Movement and the gay rights movement. Many have cited the need for riots. I couldn't disagree more. Perhaps riots were instrumental during a time period prior to the internet, and during a time when the media didn't give adequate cover to the Civil Rights or other movements until blood was spilled, but this is a different time. Let's not forget, there are still injustices against all the groups I've mentioned, and the Civil Rights Movement is by no means something of the past, rather it's an ongoing endeavor. The LGBT community has the world's attention, we don't need riots to promote our cause, so the question is; How do you want us represented? I personally don't want any part of an organization that has acted as ignorant and immature as the tea-partiers. That is NOT how I choose to be represented, and if you choose to act in that manor, please keep in mind while you may perceive a benefit or immediate gratification from such actions, those actions can also hurt you, and many, many others.

Many have justified their disrespect of President Obama because they feel enough hasn't happened fast enough. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I never remember President Obama promising WHEN Don't Ask Don't Tell would be repealed. He never said, "the minute I step foot in the White House". It's the angry LGBT's who have put time restrictions on the man.

I've also heard how President Obama has given the LGBT community empty promises. Again, I couldn't disagree more. If appointing openly gay and lesbian citizens to government positions, inviting gay couples to the White House, and mandating hospital visitations are empty gestures, then that clearly demonstrates your anger is misguided and has caused a severe case of nearsightedness.

There is one last point I would like to make, that no one seems to want to talk about, but in respect to DADT, yes, I think it's horrible in this day and age that someone can get fired for being gay. Yet it happens outside of the armed forces every day. Those who are gay, and choose to serve in the military are well aware of that risk. DADT is not some secret only told to soldiers after they join the military. Again, it's a risk that's known from the beginning, just as anyone who joins the military understands there is a risk of death during battle.

Now everyone is so worried about DADT, and some of those hecklers who were completely disrespectful to our president haven't even served in the armed forces. One priority that's on the table right now, as we speak, is the passing of ENDA. If ENDA becomes law of the land, do you think it won't apply to military members? ENDA will be passed by congress, the way things are suppose to happen in the U.S., and will benefit all LGBT people. So which one should be priority? DADT or ENDA? You tell me!

So I conclude with this. If you want respect, you have to give it. If you want to get angry and protest, why not protest and heckle those who are working to prevent equality? It's time to understand the need to direct your anger towards those actively working AGAINST the gay community. I'm not saying stay at home and do nothing and wait for your rights, but do the right thing! Don't act like idiots and fight against two fronts. Protest NOM, write to your senator, ceaselessly, do your damnedest to have all those "anti-gay churches" spending millions to prevent equality lose their tax exempt status, but do not insult the President by heckling him and calling him a liar. Don't ostracize our first presidential ally and turn him and his allies against the gay community. Leave the attacks against President Obama to the tea-partiers and angry Republicans. Can't you see how it's destroying their credibility? Don't let that happen to us. Use your anger to fight against our oppressors, not our allies.

Social change is a large mass. It has great momentum, but it's going to take a great amount of effort and work to change its direction. Don't expect the President to wave a magic wand make inequality and all the people who support it go away. It simply doesn't work that way.

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Managing editor for gayagenda.com, an online news source for the LGBT community and weekly host of The Gay Agenda on Blog Talk Radio. Fighting for equality!
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