ENGAGING, NOT DEMONIZING.

Dan Savage is expressing understandable outrage at the passage of Prop 8:

I’m not sure what to do with this. I’m thrilled that we’ve just elected our first African-American president. I wept last night. I wept reading the papers this morning. But I can’t help but feeling hurt that the love and support aren’t mutual.
I do know this, though: I’m done pretending that the handful of racist gay white men out there—and they’re out there, and I think they’re scum—are a bigger problem for African Americans, gay and straight, than the huge numbers of homophobic African Americans are for gay Americans, whatever their color.

This will get my name scratched of the invite list of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which is famous for its anti-racist-training seminars, but whatever.

Finally, I’m searching for some exit poll data from California. I’ll eat my shorts if gay and lesbian voters went for McCain at anything approaching the rate that black voters went for Prop 8.

I went to sleep having felt really good about what happened two nights ago, only to wake up and be reminded how deeply mired in contradiction this country remains: a man whose parents' union would have been illegal 40 years ago ascends to the presidency while the rights of others to marry are taken away.

But I think it's really problematic to view the election of Barack Obama as some sort of quid pro quo between blacks and whites, or blacks and the LGBT community, as though gays and lesbians were doing black people a big favor by voting for the black guy and therefore their support of Prop 8 in California is a kind of betrayal. Those in the LGBT community who voted for Obama voted for the same reason everyone else did: because voting for him was in their interest. Black folks don't owe white people anything because Obama is the president-elect. Period. You didn't elect him for us; you elected him because you thought he was the better candidate.

Pam Spaulding writes:

I've been blogging for years about the need to discuss race in regards to LGBT issues. I hope that this is now the wakeup call for our "professional gays" out there who represent us to come out of their comfort zones and help bridge this concrete education gap. The belief that white=gay is big part of the problem, and as long as black LGBTs are invisible in their own communities and there is a dearth of color in the public face of LGBT leadership, the socially conservative black community can remain in denial that I exist as a black lesbian.

Andrew Sullivan agrees that "this community needs to be engaged not demonized, and we haven't engaged enough," but in the weeks before the vote Sullivan was telling everyone on the Internet that the black community was "the most homophobic ethnic community" which sounds a lot to me like demonizing. That's not the way to build a political coalition, anymore than Barack Obama won the election by telling white people how racist they are.

--A. Serwer

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