Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Hard Subject for me to Talk About

I've been asked to write about this, and I admit, I've been putting it off. Just like something you don't want to deal with or talk about. It's so bad, you just don't want to deal with it. Everyday, however, it's been building and I've had to hear so much about it I cannot ignore it any more.

At this point we've all read about the poll results regarding the high percentage of votes against us that came from other minorities, mainly the African American and Latino communities.

Bare with me because this is very hard for me to put into words.

In the last few days there has been a lot of anger directed at these communities by our community. I've been hearing about this through friends, although I have not witnessed this myself. All the marches and protests I've been involved with have dealt with our community being fed up with discrimination and have been motivated by an overwhelming urge to be seen and heard. I have not seen anger directed at anyone (okay, at the Mormons a bit - and by the way, that's upsetting my gay Mormon friends).

What I've heard however, saddens me beyond words. I won't get into it because it is too ugly to repeat, but suffice it to say, I have heard about this repeatedly from friends of mine who are African American and Latino who are getting shit from our community (although they themselves are in our community).

Are you fucking kidding me?! I just don't get this. How can people be angry at people in OUR OWN COMMUNITY!!!! People, this is racism. People can't be mad at an entire population because of a poll. There is no logic in this.

Meanwhile, do you know the 30% that voted for us, because if you are throwing around bad words, are you laying them on an ally?

I understand that we are angry about losing Prop 8. I'm angry! We should be angry. Directing this at other populations of human beings however, is not the answer. If you are angry, please take to the streets. Scream! Shout! All these marches and protests are garnering national news coverage. It is such a productive way to deal with this situation. For the first time probably EVER, citizens of the United States are seeing gay people on the news for who they really are - every shape, size, age and ethnic background...shouting to be seen, heard and respected. Before this, most of those that seek to oppose us have only known us through representations on tv or by seeing quick video of gay pride parades where folks are donned up in drag or leather or half naked. Not now. You can turn on Anderson Cooper's show on CNN and see us for who we really are... and for how upset we feel at being put at the back of the bus.

Which gets me back to my original point. There really isn't any constructive purpose right now at directing anger towards certain religious sects or ethnic populations. It is just wrong in every way. Maybe because I'm a manager and producer and have been so for twenty years, but when something like these poll results come across my desk - and we are in a horrible situation like we are now (every gay rights initiative across the country failed) - my first instinct is to look at those percentages and think, "Okay. What can we do to change this?'

So my question to you is: What can we do to change this?

Nearly 70% of African American and 50% of Latino voters supported Prop 8, and they provided the tipping point since it was a substantial turn-out because of Obama support. Obama who proclaimed publically that he does not believe in gay marriage. He did however not support Prop 8, but I'm not sure anyone got that email.

So there it is. Believe me... I'm not sure how to convey this other than to say getting mad at a certain population will do no good. I'm not angry at these populations and it saddens me that others are because doesn't that put it right back on you and what we are fighting for in the first place?

We just need to look at the solution. If you put all your energies into the solution as opposed to complaining about these statistics, we'd have equal rights in like five minutes. Really, the onus is on us to take the reigns and change this. Marching on Compton ain't gonna do much good, and blaming the Black community.... pointless and honestly, racist. People, we only marched on the Mormon church because they are doing something ILLEGAL... not because we hate the people or blame them exclusively for losing our rights. We can't go protest every group that doesn't agree with us, because it ain't gonna change their minds. And by the way, no minority or religious population is 100% against us, so when someone directs their hate there, they are only pissing off people that SUPPORT US. Nice fucking job.

The other thing that is not going to do any good whatsoever right now is complaining about how the No on 8 people ran the campaign. I'm not saying people don't have a point, I'm just saying it's pointless to complain about that at this moment.

Once again, maybe it's because I'm a film producer and this is just how I do my job. When we are in the middle of production and something goes horribly wrong, no one has time to point fingers and complain, you just have to solve the fucking problem. There is more than enough time for complaining at the end of the shoot over beers, where you can let out steam, conjecture and gossip. There's always the post mordem as well, when you learn from mistakes by deconstructing them.

Guess what? We are not done with production here. We are in the middle of a crisis and we just have to mobilize and move forward. Trust me, I will complain right along with you later. When we have the time. Now, we have to be on the streets.

And by the way, if you don't like what a certain LGBT organization is doing...for about $3000 - $5000, you can get yourself of their Board of Directors then tell them what to do.

Right now, national news coverage is doing us a lot of good. We are being seen and being heard. We may have to shut down traffic to do so, but that gets the news crews there. Every day people turn on the news and see us taking to the streets in a way not seen since the Civil Rights movement. This is our Civil Rights Movement. Or should I say, this is still THE Civil Rights Movement.

Getting our rights known in the hearts and minds of the nation will only help in the battle ahead that will be launched by our gay brothers and sisters in the legal courts. It's on the news every fucking day which means people are talking about this around water coolers all over the country. And if they're not, then we need to protest some more and been seen and heard until everyone is talking about this. I think a lot of good will be done by straight people talking to other straight people about how this is wrong. So we just have to put it on the public agenda. Let's face it, we gotta be more interesting to talk about than this week's episode of HEROES or DANCING WITH THE STARS.

This weekend, there are so many protests planned all over California. This is it people. This is huge.

After we have accomplished this, then we start building towards our goals of equal rights. Once we have the country's attention.

As far as the voters who are against us in the minority groups, I've already started speaking with people about coalition work which will bring us to them in a way where we can be heard. I think we need to reach out to communities and find a way to communicate this issue, and there are so many people in the LGBT family who are so eager to commit to this journey and will be a HUGE asset to us achieving this goal. By the way, the most important people in this movement will be AFRICAN AMERICAN AND LATINO! There has also been incredible work done by LGBT Asian Pacific organizations in reaching out to their communities, so I know this can be done. Meanwhile, the lawyers and legislators will be working on things from a policy and legal standpoint. We may never change people's minds, but we can make it illegal to discriminate.

We are dealing with religion here, people. Religion in all communities, not just one or two. It is going to take a lot to change people's minds, and we have to figure out a constructive way to do that. Remember...most people are good at heart. I would assume most people don't want to hate or don't want to hurt. They just don't know, they've been misinformed (by their churches) or they are just not getting that this is all basically illegal (any discrimination or forcing one's religious beliefs on others). Once again, it might be just 70% of only the people that voted. Not an entire population.

Believe me... that video I posted yesterday with the Yes on 8 woman (who was white and Catholic)... after I stopped rolling video, I talked to her for 45 minutes. My god, she was set in her ways! How do we solve this? How do we solve this? Getting angry at them will do no good (I got angry. I lost it when she said Lawrence King was killed because he basically asked for it by wearing make up to school and by asking his murderer to be his Valentine.)

I think I've kinda skirted around the point of what I've heard regarding the hate talk. I can't repeat it because it is just to hard to. Just like I would not play the video of the people at the McCain/Palin rallies that shouted, "Kill Obama". I just... I don't even know what to do with that sort of ignorance and hate towards human beings. I just have to think about the solution (as far as this is concerned, a better education system would be a good start).

As far as the Mormon church is concerned, you already have heard my thoughts on this. The LA LGBT Center has a really fucking good point about a church using tax exempt money to wage political control. If you take us out of the equation, it's still wrong in every which way 'til Tuesday. So I support them in this, and it's an important thing to do in general because no church should have that kind of power over the government on any issue. This is not a fucking Jihad on Mormons, people. Just the leaders of the church that are doing something ILLEGAL, and that is our issue with them.

Meanwhile, if we are successful in taking away their tax status, what does that do for us? I mean, we still won't have rights.

And don't get me started on Focus on the Family. We can't be hating any sorta Christian people but as for the leadership, I truly believe without any reservation that Rev. James Dobson is a knight in the highest order of the Anti Christ.

If you want to be angry at someone, I'll email you Dobson's office address. Send it all there, will ya, and leave other minorities and religious groups alone. People are free to believe what they want. They cannot impose that on us, however, and no one has the right to take away anyone's rights because this is America. We will make this happen.

A lot of our population are being horribly misled by their church leaders or just incredibly misinformed in general about homosexuals. There are also, unfortunately, a lot of people that are scared of us and that just plain hate us and they are using the Bible merely as a tool to justify this hate.

I know my readership does not feel any hate towards any minority or people of a certain religion - I mean, my blog is about supporting LGBT people in the arts, gay politics, non profit work and furry little animals, so if you tune in here you are probably not the kind of person that hates or wants to take out your anger on people. But I had to write this and hopefully you can go out in the world and try to spread this message.

Please help me find a way to stop these hateful words towards my lgbt Mormon, African American and Latino friends. It's really hurting them and it's not fair.

Another lesson I learned in life - a lesson I live by - is if you don't like the way someone is doing something, then instead of complaining about it, you do something.

In the coming weeks I promise to post ways that you can get involved and make a difference. Please help eliminate hate. We all have to find a way to live with each other - differences and all - on this earth. Peaceful demonstrations have been doing a world of good, so just keep turning out!

Meanwhile, The Los Angeles Times on their front page today reinforced the friction: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-gayblack8-2008nov08,0,1601616.story

15 comments:

Luther Mace said...

BRILLIANT!!!! JD, thank you for addressing this viral issue.

Needless to say, I will not let the ignorance of gay racism deter me from fighting for what is RIGHT and JUST anymore than I would if the venom was being spewed from the homophobe.

This is a time where people need to come together and FIGHT what's right and not each other.

TheSmokingCocktail.com said...

Luther, please be careful out there. This is some silly shit going on... I just don't get it.

I do know we have work to do, and I am committed to doing it.

Shannon Connolly said...

Well said, JD. You know I'm with you all the way.

I'd really love to get a group of young, racially diverse gay people together when I get back to LA and go talk to parents at PTA meetings and talk to Church organizers. People are just scared, people just don't know all the facts.

I think we just need to put some real stories to this situation, some real faces. We need to answer questions, we need to change minds. Marching, protesting... those things have fantastic publicity value, but they may not change minds.

We need to have the tough conversations. And I'm prepared to do it when I return.

Daniel Frank said...

Right on JD... Hateful comments not only hurt our friends...they hurt us, they hurt our cause. As they said in one of those horrible yet successful High School Musical Movies, "We're all in this together."

Jennifer said...

You are so right. People need to look beyond the race columns in the exit polling data. Education level and income level were almost as good indicators of how people voted on Proposition 8 (as was Republican Party membership...go figure).

Low income, combined with less education were not good signs for us and there are a lot of those people out there who, for obvious reasons, are easily manipulated by the pulpit, by t.v. commercials, and by fear.

I know that it is frustrating to see the hypocrisy of many in the African American communities--particularly their churches--refusing to acknowledge the connection between gay rights and civil rights. But the poor and less educated are not students of history.

We're going to have to teach them, we're going to have to get out there into their communities, reach out to their churches and teach them why our rights matter too.

The education starts now folks, what kind of lessons are they learning?

April said...

Kudos to this post. I hope this does not blow over and we can become organized in our resistance.

JJ said...

My partner and I had a reception last weekend to celebrate our marriage in October. Included among the celebrants were several STRAIGHT Mormon couples who had stood up against the intense peer pressure from their church and were there to wish us well. My anger toward the Mormon CHURCH and their Proposition 8 shenannigans knows no bounds. The support from my Mormon friends touches me deeply. None of this is easy.

Adam Bouska said...

thank you JD. well said! <3

ChadDarnell said...

Beautiful and classy. Just like you.

xoxo
-C

citizen spot said...

Thanks for sharing your take on the current opposition to prop 8's passing via a ballot initiative. Now is the time for action, not finger pointing. This is a clarion call for all closeted GLBT's to come out and represent in your community. We also need to argue the emphasis on our families, and how we just want to protect our children from being second class citizens without the rights afforded heterosexual couples and their families. Peace.

littlemunster said...

geeez!!! The Latino Community is split. You have those that are religious and want to ignore how difficult it was to come into this country and live with inequality. Whether it's 1st, 2nd or 3rd generation. Ceasar Chavez fought for equality of all people. Chavez foundation support our LGBT community. I am 1st generation Mexican American. My grandfather was a Pastor and my cousin is also Pastor. I know religion. My own family knows that prop 8 is unjust and unfair. I will admit there is 2-3 aunts who stick to being ignorant and say it goes against GOD. So does having children out of wedlock, having your son always on parole. You don't see me upset when I cut a check out to help you pay for bail bonds or diapers. I guess my gay money is okay then!! lol I love them just the same!

peace out

Bee

Anonymous said...

1. Mormons make up less than 2% of the population of California. There are approximately 800,000 LDS out of a total population of approximately 34 million.

2. Mormon voters were less than 5% of the yes vote. If one estimates that 250,000 LDS are registered voters (the rest being children), then LDS voters made up 4.6% of the Yes vote and 2.4% of the total Proposition 8 vote.

3. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) donated no money to the Yes on 8 campaign. Individual members of the Church were encouraged to support the Yes on 8 efforts and, exercising their constitutional right to free speech, donated whatever they felt like donating.

4. The No on 8 campaign raised more money than the Yes on 8 campaign. Unofficial estimates put No on 8 at $38 million and Yes on 8 at $32 million, making it the most expensive non-presidential election in the country.

5. Advertising messages for the Yes on 8 campaign are based on case law and real-life situations. The No on 8 supporters have insisted that the Yes on 8 messaging is based on lies. Every Yes on 8 claim is supported.

6. The Yes on 8 coalition was a broad spectrum of religious organizations. Catholics, Evangelicals, Protestants, Orthodox Jews, Muslims – all supported Yes on 8. It is estimated that there are 10 million Catholics and 10 million Protestants in California. Mormons were a tiny fraction of the population represented by Yes on 8 coalition members.

7. Not all Mormons voted in favor of Proposition 8. Our faith accords that each person be allowed to choose for him or her self. Church leaders have asked members to treat other members with "civility, respect and love," despite their differing views.

(YES ON) 8. The Church did not violate the principal of separation of church and state. This principle is derived from the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . ." The phrase "separation of church and state", which does not appear in the Constitution itself, is generally traced to an 1802 letter by Thomas Jefferson, although it has since been quoted in several opinions handed down by the United States Supreme Court in recent years. The LDS Church is under no obligation to refrain from participating in the political process, to the extent permitted by law. U.S. election law is very clear that Churches may not endorse candidates, but may support issues. The Church as always been very careful on this matter and occasionally (not often) chooses to support causes that it feels to be of a moral nature.

9. Supporters of Proposition 8 did exactly what the Constitution provides for all citizens: they exercised their First Amendment rights to speak out on an issue that concerned them, make contributions to a cause that they support, and then vote in the regular electoral process. For the most part, this seems to have been done in an open, fair, and civil way. Opponents of 8 have accused supporters of being bigots, liars, and worse. The fact is, we simply did what Americans do – we spoke up, we campaigned, and we voted.

Mongoose said...

i'll admit that i took out my anger out in the african-american and latino populations by putting the blame on them.
unfortunately...while the did check the yes at their ballots that day its not entirely their fault. its not their fault that they were being force fed these lies from the yeson8 campaign, not only via signs, commercials, and flyers but by their priests, reverends, and ministers.
there really wasn't anyone trying to convince them otherwise and with machismo filled cultures how could they not vote YES.

the sunday before election day i woke up upset. i quickly designed my own no on 8 flyers...bilingual, and filled with quotes from Jesus in the new testament to prove that are cause is just. i printed about 75 and set out to my local catholic church(the one i grew up in and went to school). i was going to personally pass them out to people but i felt like i was being too aggresive by being in their place of worship. so i placed my flyers in my car. i stayed until all the cars left and did'nt see any on the floor. i prayed that they read them and hopefully changed the mind of at least one or two people

Darius said...

I agree with everything you said. We can't single out one group as the source of the problem and focus our anger on them because that is as unfair to them as other are to us.

I don't want this to become a "gays hate religion" issue because that's not what it's about. It's about the religious groups who are forcing their idea of what is right upon us. It's not a question of tolerance on both sides. People are welcome to their beliefs as far as I'm concerned, they just shouldn't try to impose those beliefs on everyone.

Focusing anger along racial lines isn't good and needs to stop. We'll look like petty losers who have no respect for anyone, and that goes directly against what we're fighting for: Respect.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the Christians in other denominations or non denominations that are WITH US!
I know we need to tone down the anger and not scapegoat those folks that gave us Pres. Obama. My apologies to those that we have a chance at swaying to see there can be religous beliefs and civil marriages simultaneously. I think people were so eager to vote for Obama, not being in the shoes of LGBT, just answered yes because their teachings say one thing and they were unable to hear the reasons we can show respect for beliefs, yet give LGBT people an honest way to fill in the accurate box under "Marital Status" and have the FULL equality as everyone else. I know there are many who could hear the reasoning, but will not listen at ALL if they are being "blamed".
Do not divide, but do what we should have done better BEFORE the election, Point out the differences and INEQUALITY in Domestic Partnership. There were a TON of people that believed we already have equality in Domestic Partnership.
Most of us pay income taxes.
Here is a personal true story:
I am fortunate to be employed by a "diversity" honoring and advocating company that began offering health care insurance for domestic partners. In my eagerness I signed up my partner. I did not realize I would be TAXED for INCOME my company paid for my domestic partner. I noticed my taxable income was much higher than my wages. Married spouses are not taxed this way and not "charged" for spousal and dependents health care (a long time negotiated contractual item).
Yes, it's great to be offered this option, but it is NOT EQUAL.
We must also file as "married" under State and as "single" under Federal income taxes.
It is a COMMON NON religious official document question. What is your marital status?
I know this is tough for those that view marriage as a religious thing, but it is not a religious question on the official tax forms and such.
These marches have one message to the country: We will NOT go in the closet, where some of the religious organizations want us. Don't forget, some of the religious faiths embrace LGBT and many people of faith are LGBT.