Subscribe to:
POZ magazine
E-newsletters
Join POZ: Facebook MySpace Twitter Pinterest
Tumblr Google+ Flickr MySpace
POZ Personals
Sign In / Join
Username:
Password:

Has The LGBT Community Become 'Mean'?

| 11 Comments

32379_453069888076524_1252018442_n

Having been working for LGBT equality for near four decades the one constant for me has been how proud I have been of how we have conducted ourselves in a time of such struggle. Our story through an unbelievable barrage of hatred directed toward us, the darkness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, our neighbors and families not supporting our search for freedom and so much more has been one of love, grace, nobility and extraordinary courage.

Don't get me wrong.

There have been strong and differing viewpoints on our visions for the future, strategy, organizations and who should lead. Those views were often expressed passionately and with great vigor. There were times people didn't speak to each other and then months later they would be working side by side.

When adversity really hit the LGBT community without fail we had each others backs. With a few exceptions never did we use hateful bitter and ugly words toward each. Quite honestly, our ability to operate out of love in times of struggle, hardship and challenges was simply amazing to behold.

The great lesson and great power of our struggle from the last decades is that we did not become our oppressors. As a community we never surrendered to their hate. We never become ugly and filled with their hatred. Never did we sink to their low, low level and practice uniform and blanket hatred blindly directed to any group. While far from perfect we have shown this nation a new way of passionate resistance built on love and hope. Rising above the hate directed toward us was a magnificent sight to behold.

Over the last year I personally have had some concern that we are losing our marvelous story and increasingly feeling it is alright to express bitter and ugly anger at each other with no boundaries nor respect for our brothers or sisters.

Everyone should be concerned.

While is perfectly alright to express passionate disagreement with our brothers and sisters, fight for what you believe is the right vision and decide who you believe should led us or not led us, the boundaries of love and respect are disappearing.

Hate-Speech-is-not-Free-Speech

Some small examples of what recently I have observed and experienced.

Never, until recently, people who disagreed with me feel it was acceptable to express that disagreement by calling me a 'fat pig', 'an aging and cheap whore' or 'Fascist'. Believe me, never have I encountered that until recently.

In the recent primary election for Mayor of New York City, there were strong and legitimate debate in the LGBT community about the race. In fact, in the end result, the community supported Bill de Blasio instead of openly gay candidate Christine Quinn. Both candidates are good people who have the community interests at heart. Of course there would be spirited debate and passionate commitment to whoever you were supporting.

However, never in five decades in politics have I witnessed such character assassination by other members of the community directed at Quinn. This is a woman who has dedicated her life to supporting LGBT rights, who has fought side by side with us for marriage equality, who has fought for the poor and has one of the biggest Irish hearts I have ever seen.

While strongly disagreeing with her policies is perfectly fine, the ugly and bitter personal attacks were appalling. For the first time in the history of this blog, I deleted many comments filled with hate, derogatory terms directed at her and completely lacking of good taste. At one rally where I was speaking, a young professional gay man in suit and tie who was a veterinarian came up and was screaming at me that Quinn was nothing but a 'dyke c**nt' and how could I be supporting her.

I only wish that had been the exception.

Another appalling case is the recent departure of Dr. Marjorie Hill from the Gay Men's Health Crisis in New York City. She is a dear friend who I have known since the days of the Clinton administration. Marjorie is another person who has given her life to public service and constantly had to overcome both being a lesbian and a person of color. Clearly there were some disagreements about her direction for the GMHC and her vision for HIV/AIDS. That is perfectly fine. Marjorie would the first one to support freedom of speech.

However if the emails, messages on Facebook and comments are any indication, the same type of ugly character assassination is taking place against her and the community is largely remaining quiet about the attacks on this fine individual. Here is just an example of an email that I recently received (of course unsigned) from a 'Will.I.Am.Son" and the hateful words he/she used to make a point:

"Euphonious airhead and sneaky hater MARJORIE HILL......Back to Mar-gore-ie Hill the phony, contemptuous, money-grabbing, award-snatching Gay woman "

The LGBT community has largely over the years embraced the wonders of the visions of people like Dr. Martin Luther King. Our community has embraced love as a way of organizing. We taught the world about great strength, courage and nobility in the time of death and devastation. The story of our epic struggle has simply been amazing.

The LGBT communities moral strength has inspired countless millions and we can find our brothers and sisters working around the world helping others. Everywhere I travel on this plant, I find American LGBT people taking what they have learned from our struggle and helping others in need. My heart bursts with pride.

Please, my dear friends, disagree all you want with whoever you want. Chose your words carefully because bullying of adults is just as wrong as bullying young people. Treat each other with respect and dignity. Most importantly remember we are never that far (as Russia shows) from those who would see us hang and we must, we must have each other backs.

With much love.

11 Comments

Show Comment(s)

Comments on David Mixner's blog entry "Has The LGBT Community Become 'Mean'?"

Great article that should be published in all gay venues. I too faced a lot of criticism for chosing to vote for Christine Quinn and by no other than my fellow gay peers. It wasn't until I went to Boxers bar and noticed a couple of rich, white young gays playing that beer game and wearing t-shirts advertising "I won't vote for Quinn". I wanted to tell them about the freedoms they enjoy today and how people like Christine Quinn (not Bill DeBlasio), have been able to attain for them. Eventually I decided to leave it alone because you can't argue with drunks. I hope Christine has another chance at earning the respect she deserves. I cannot agree with you as far as Marjorie Hill but I won't cast any stones out of respect to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters who fight everyday so we can keep enjoying our gay freedom in America.

This seems to be a national issue crossing all lines. It was brought up on Bill Maher, Friday. Maher blames this culture of hate on the raise in poverty, not technology, but some of his Twitter examples were stunning, like "F**k The Cheesecake Factory! Really? F**k Cheesecake?

Looking in retrospect, when I hit the club scene way back in 1971, there was much internalized self-loathing, expressed by sharp remarks toward one another. Your popularity & "respect" was largely based on the sharpness of your tongue, and the quickness of your wit.

I really felt that the AIDS epidemic made us "grow up" in a sense, pulling gay men and lesbians together, especially during an administration that wished we would all "just die." These days at my age and physical condition, I'm so far removed from the greater gay community that I probably wouldn't recognize it.

Dear Mr. Mixner,

I thinking you are hitting on a dynamic focus for our communities that is coming together once again and also in the advances of old-school advocacy taught to younger people that have no concept of the brakes being applied in advocacy or activision(myself being one of those people in the past), within the inter civil wars for human rights or equality for the masses and many seeing so many victories in written policy coming to fruition, which still has some many wounded veterans within our Gay Civil Society( living in Palm Spring I witness the pain of unforgivness). I am on a mission trip to the Northeast Osarks to advance in my adulthood to cultivate kindness and test the waters of reconciliation; however, not too many months ago angry about the years of oppression would come out in an expression of pain, hurt and a long war to find my humanness and Honorable Man. I believe that the Gay community has a left and a right being clearly defined in debate that is drawing lines between each other to express new once believed unattainable core values and freedom to be oneself in a new venue or a paradox shift, after years of many living in daily lies to hide from persecution. I believe it is natural in the fact for we have won so many battles within some many fronts, but still do not have parity in all the Union or within our Global Civil Societies. This reconciliation process to amend and create new core values lost in the darkness for many years of oppression I believe for many will be years in the healing to let go of the past, for some to move forward and have the courage like yourself, not to act out of fear in the old-school battles ( I was taught in that manner). I for one have notice it is one of my short comings in the past to fight for respect within my faith, HIV, Gay and yes, Straight communities to go for the juggler vein to express the pain, angry, fear, stigma, shame and guilt of my past. I get the viper mode at times in many circles in the Gay Community, when I speak to courage of conversion about my faith, like " I love straight people, for my mother is straight." My faith tells me to forgive the past for the harm directed at my brothers (myself too) and sisters and to forgive myself for my miss-guided words and actions, which I believe is reconciliation in Action to live in the hope of serenity each day, but to take action in Love congruently. I am just tried of studying war like policy movment and moved into forgiveness with hope within my Faith, to be one of many in Americas that have the opportunity and Thank God to be free in speech and action, yes, Proud to be an American.
I would of never pondered 25 years after I was told that I was HIV and realized at the same time I was a Gay man in the South that I would be ponding marriage with core values of truth, trust and intimacy, it was not at any time discussed within my elders for the fear, stigma, shame and guilt in attack mode had been the direction of many of the leadership for me of the past, and maybe it was needed at the times, but again free in the hope to move in an open and honest conversation about my new core values in agreement as the war is over for me to relish peace and daily serenity with lovingly action. Thank you for you comments and courageous action for I am hopeful many will start have conversation about the reconciliation process in their communities beyond gay and no out of fear , but with honorable courage.
Sincerely,
Mr. Frederick Wright-Stafford

I think we have internalised the images of our oppressors, consciously and unconsciously, and now we have become the worst oppressors of each other. Not just to the leaders of our community but to each other as a group. As the good book says, ' A house divided among itself falls.' When we return an eye for an eye we are not better than the person who started the oppression in the first place. I feel sometimes like all the hating and verbal and sometimes physical abuse comes from a place of insecurity and the person now valuing them self. If you respect yourself, you will respect others. If you love yourself, you will love others. Does it say somewhere love your neighbor as you love yourself. It starts with self.

Like you I admit we have a challenge and now more than ever should intensify the message of respect and integration to our own community. It alright to disagree and have difference of opinion and debate, that's where all the great ideas will come from and the solution to our challenges will be born out of. But this utter disrespect of each other must stop. One of the reasons why I love the gay community is because its such a rainbow community, everyone in included and accepted, the diversity is amazing and that makes me very proud. But slowly intolerance and prejudice is getting in. I am glad you have noticed it and have the courage to speak out. That's needed.

Thank you and God bless you for this article.

Silas From Kenya.

It's apparent this is not isolated then; similar language has been used here in Melbourne towards dedicated and loving, caring people with only the best interests of the community at heart.

I think you nailed something - anonymity - that great empowerer of hatred and the cowards' craven and pathetic attempts at influence without accountability nor integrity.

Ad hominem attacks are just so easy from behind the keyboard, in front of a non-reactive, 2-dimensional representation of the world that is nowhere near an analogue of reality for any serious investment in personal time; an ill-thought, rapidly worded response is so gratifying, instantly, whereas reasoned debate requires energy and intelligence; something these people lack.

The vehicle of the internet shows the double-edge of this new sword with which we cut through the geordian knot of bullsh*t and oppression; it allows the rascal as much as it allows the paladin.

I'm glad you're raising this issue, but not sure I can accept that Quinn and Hill lost out only because of vitriol. There has been a long simmering frustration between our community's leadership and the masses. Admittedly the masses have largely avoided lifting a finger or supporting grassroots and political efforts, but so many of us see establishment gay leadership as woefully out of touch with our daily realities (both on the higher and lower ends of the economic spectrum). The stereotype of the careerist AIDS activist, or the "say anything to get elected" politician is hard to overcome. This is very painful for those who have strong personal ties from working alongside these leaders and remember all the hard work these people have dedicated to the cause. But we live in a world where every leader must justify a "what have you done for me today" type expectation from every constituent. The vitriol you see is a vulgar expression of the belief that these people are out of touch and have stopped listening to their communities. The vitriol should be stopped, but the leaders can't escape the need to >listen<.

Neither Hill nor Quinn have afforded respect to people living with HIV. Let's not confuse self-serving interlopers with those who actually help to further our cause. Neither ... are friends to people with HIV. Mr.Mixner, it is insulting to see these ... women defended. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Wow I feel bad that the mean comments keep rolling... But I see the problem rooted in the lack of candid discussion about the divide between grassroots activism and client service needs vs. political lobbying and strategy. The late David Feinberg used to write hilarious send-ups about being patronizingly invited to gala AIDS fundraisers and put on display as actual PWA fodder for the donors. How is the average LGBT person able to related to $500 a plate gala fundraisers from gay organizations who until very recently consistently failed to win us any substantive rights? All we saw was an army of self-annointed leaders with $100K+ salaries who commanded us to vote Democrate and refrain from suing for our rights, lest we awake the boogeyman Leviathan of an "adverse court precendent that might set us back for years". During this dark period we were consistently thrown under the bus by the Democratic Party, HIV infection rates continued to rise, military discharge rates increased, Clinton signed DOMA to deflect attention from his own misdeeds, HIV prevention efforts were forbidden from mentioning anal sex, and transgender inclusive anti-discrimination law were taken off the table etc. etc. And LGBT groups and politicians continued to admonish us to keep quiet and not rock the boat. No vocal protests, no picketing, no visibility for our day to day issues. So as painful as it might be, we need to recognize that much distrust has simmered over the years with our leadership. In more recent months, relocating the GMHC's offices to an inconvenient location and failing to decisively support paid sick leave for all New Yorkers is going to upset members of our community and they are going to be vocal about it.
No one said that leadership is easy, but watering down the message in a misguided attempt to appeal to straight or upper middle-class voters will turn any LGBT leader into a bland indistinguishable politicians and alienate the rest of us. Corey Johnson and Bill DeBlasio stuck to their grassroot beliefs and it paid off. There is undoubtedly a personal aspect to the vulgar comments and attacks. Maybe I'm naive to think that they might go away if our leadership was less detached. But I feel the solution rests in our leaders acknowledging the mistrust. "I can see how my wavering on [issue] has undermined LGBT support for my leadership..."

I remember all to well from personal experiences and there is no excuse for meanest from anyone unfortunately, little has changed. My suggestion is to stop adding another letter to define a group of people. I sometimes wounder how ridicules it must sound when a non-LGBT etc., must think how can these people be respected when they keep putting themselves categories?

One of the biggest problems as I see it is that everyone can hide behind their computers and or get erroneous information that they think is fact. The internet and social networks are great ideas, but people for the most part are too immature to use them wisely. My opinion only.

It is rather frightening when the hate comes from within your own 'group'. The world is scary enough. Choosing the lowest common denominator does not show us to be the type of people we want to show ourselves as. There are already plenty of people willing to call us names and use verbal violence-which is abusive. This bullying is very sad and makes me wonder how worthy we are, along with every other rude, spiteful, mean, judgmental person of any sexual orientation. I want to be a role model to my daughter of a respectful, decent person whatever my orientation.

Leave a comment



 

My Favorite Links

Subscribe to Blog

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by David Mixner published on September 25, 2013 4:48 PM.

What A Week! was the previous entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

David on the Web

David on Twitter

Tag Cloud

Disclaimer

The opinions expressed by the bloggers and by people providing comments are theirs alone. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Smart + Strong and/or its employees.

Smart + Strong is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information contained in the blogs or within any comments posted to the blogs.



© 2014 Smart + Strong. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy