Despite tragedies last fall, the GLBT community should focus on its achievements.
It was a message of strength and inspiration – a message the entire nation could stand behind; it was a message that assured the struggling members of our society that “things will get better.”
There’s nothing worse than a “Negative Ned,” and with the exception of the “It Gets Better” campaign, that seems to be exactly what the GLBT community has become in the past few months, even years.
While it’s wonderful the community is always prepared to tackle the next big issue or prepare an appropriate press release of the latest atrocity and injustice, at what point do we take a breath and look back at what we’ve actually accomplished?
In the past few months, the community has witnessed the repeal of a 16-year-old GLBT military service ban and the beginning of civil unions in the state of Illinois. Even the first cure of a man with an HIV infection through a stem cell transplant, in addition to the discovery of new antiretroviral treatments – a cause actively pursued by GLBT activists – is worthy of a celebration.
To say these are landmark achievements for the community would be a gross understatement.
Rather than let these headline-topping news events slip into distant memory, why hasn’t the GLBT community capitalized – pounced even – on the positive impact of these accomplishments?
It’s unfortunate that after decades of struggling to appropriately and effectively communicate with the heterosexual community, we still think we need to turn to the aggressive “Stonewall” protest mentality.
The phrase “kill ‘em with kindness” comes to mind when I think of this issue. Certainly, pride parades have this concept in mind as the groundwork of their original concepts.
But the fact remains that these aren’t exactly the types of public events that draw positive reactions from the mainstream media – certainly not from anyone residing in “blue collar” America who has yet to be won over by the rainbow flags and flamboyant parading around the streets.
The figureheads and major advocates of the GLBT community need to remember an alarmingly large group of people who still believe HIV/AIDS was caused by gay men, and is an “act of God,” still exists.
They need to understand the relevance of the saying “carpe diem” to this instance in our history and realize the harsh reality that this momentum is not necessarily destined to last. Therefore, it should be savored and milked for all it’s worth.
Basically, the gay community has a public relations problem – a very big one, at that. How the community moves forward from here remains to be seen, but it appears (to me, at least) the message will need to swerve in a different direction for progress to continue at the rate it has been.
The true message of equality comes from the person who acknowledges and communicates as an equal – not as a second-class citizen who feels stripped of his or her rights.
Allow me to put this in terms the GLBT community may better understand. Lady Gaga thrives on the idea that she became famous by not only believing she’s rich and famous, but acting the part.
It seems the GLBT community has the former role down pretty well but is lacking in the latter half of the master plan of Gaga. As a whole, we believe we’re equals but still complain like children whose parents have refused them candy.
I don’t expect this change in mindset to happen overnight anymore than I expect same-sex marriage to be legalized in Alaska next week. However, it would be nice to soon see a change in direction – especially as the dynamics of America rapidly begin to shape-shift.
Brandon Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.