Trump was elected and his targets are taking to the streets and, as well the usual bastards who are just here to break and create mayhem, I see something else the protesters have to deal with: the Trump electorate who are attacking them. They compare the situation to Obama’s (re-)election forgetting something crucial but they are happy to compare the two so let’s do just that.
Like Meghan Tonjes said, Obama was not perfect – no president ever was and none of them ever had a smooth ride. He made mistakes, some of them that undoubtedly endangered the economic security of people, via his support to some trans-border treaties for example. But one cannot deny that Obama was a uniting force and therefore provided a feeling of safety for the people of America as a whole. During his campaigns and presidency, when addressing the country, he addressed the country, all of it, not some part of it, pitting people against one another which is exactly what Trump did.
So when people say:
“-When Obama was reelected, we did not make a fuss. We shut up and sucked it up!”
I reply: Damn right you did!
And by the way, No! You did not shut up and got on with it. You kept going on about questioning his Americanness, from his policies to his very birth, you kept associating him with Bin Ladin because their name were close and even after he personally gave the order to gave him killed, you carried on with your usual spewing of conspiracies about him being an ally to Islamists. I don’t call that “shutting up” and “sucking it up”, I call it constant defamation in order to undermine someone just because you disagree with him and you don’t like him. Beyond disagreement or dislike, why these constant attacks?
Because that’s all you had. Obama never gave you ground to feel your freedom of being yourself, of existing, of living in the US was endangered. Maybe you felt that your freedom of carrying a gun was in danger but he never targeted you as a person. When he was elected, you didn’t feel your future, the ones of your family and friends was at stake.
Had Obama campaigned with declarations the likes of “When I am elected, no matter what institutions say, every person I personally consider a racist, I’ll have them fired, put in prison, deport and make sure they never set foot on the American soil again!”, I would have understood you taking to the streets to show your anger because that would have been a direct threat to some of you, and not just your passions, but your very existence as Americans.
You did not take to the streets because Obama was uniting, he went above all types of differences to reach you, appeal to you, talk to you whoever you were whereas Trump is divisive: he doesn’t look at America as one big ensemble constantly moving and reinventing itself but rather a monolithic heterosexual WASP block-like majority who has to reluctantly make room for change by putting up with and giving up privileges to minorities. I am not saying that his whole message but that’s most of it.
His campaign was to change how America is perceived by chopping through it with an axe, extracting the heterosexual, able WASPs and appeal to them by pitting them against every single other type of people: African Americans, Black Caribbeans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans, the LGBTQ community, the disabled, non-Christian religions, and even men v women.
To show the damage it does, I will direct to what Clinton said about you when she made the unforgivable mistake of, once, playing into that rhetoric by targeting Trump’s voters saying that “half of them were deplorable”. All of you Trump supporters went up in arms and lashed out. She made the mistake of once being divisive and a lot of people voted for Trump as a result.
That’s why people are in the streets today. To show the rest of the world that there is more to America than Trump, his ilks and his rhetoric. To show that he doesn’t represent every American but also because they are genuinely scared for their future as they were targeted, not for their opinions or what they did as a living or who they voted for, but for who they are: the colour of their skin, who their heart has feelings for, the birthplace of their parents or even their own. Trump made it openly and proudly clear that all these aspects of identity no one can change, including heterosexual WASPs, were a problem.
If I take the LGBT community, the anguish goes beyond the fear of the resurgence, normalisation and possible formalisation of bullying, it goes to the heart of the family they have built after we had evolved into better, more tolerant human beings – or so we thought – and so I still hope.
Will their marriage of love remain legal or will they have to live underground again?
Will the children they have adopted, they love, nurture and to whom they are giving a chance to finally be happy remain with loving parents or will the family be woken up on January 1st by the sound of social services kicking their way into their home to the snatch the kids away forever because from now on, family can only be defined by blood affiliation and in a heterosexual marriage?
Lacking empathy, lacking the crucial ability of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, you can mock the LGBTQ community for asking such questions but you cannot stop the fear and the anguish we have because we don’t know what the future holds. And it goes well beyond having a job or owning your own house or gun.
Maybe not the same questions, but the same feelings are running through the Black, Asian and Latino communities. What does the future hold for them? And that’s a question you never had to ask yourself as a consequence of Obama’s being elected. That’s why you did not take to the streets and we are. Looking down on us will not make it go away or will it make you feel better about yourself.
To the Republicans in the audience, E! is the channel your deeply closeted gay son likes to watch. To the Democrats, E! is the channel your happy openly gay son likes to watch.
Joel McHale at the 2014 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
There is an old trend that seems to flourish lately and it says that one can only ring its own bell. Chris Thompson, a YouTuber, is one of the best-spoken advocates for gay rights I have ever listened to: clear, straight to the point, genuine, asking the right questions, righteous but not sanctimonious. Yet some gay people seem to have a problem with him defending their rights, going to gay prides, campaigning for equality: he’s not gay.
He basically doesn’t belong to the community as such so their argument is that he’s taking the speech time and the space of someone who is truly gay, who can speak first-hand about the realities of what it means to be gay and actually bring water to the mill instead of a half-glass of lukewarm water. Chris Thompson is straight so he should shut it and let the gays speak for themselves.
Firstly, he says it himself, his advocating and expressing himself doesn’t shush the others into darkness. He’s not taking anyone’s space. It’s 2016 and the age of virtual reality with infinite space to share, not 1850 with a couple of newspapers columns to fight for. If anyone has anything to say, say it. Open a YouTube channel, it’s free, a blog on WordPress or anything and just say what you want to say but don’t blame others for taking your space when you don’t even create it.
Secondly, we need him. We need straight people to also speak for us because they know exactly what to do to convince them: be themselves – tolerant and happy. Having straight people to defend us doesn’t make us any weaker, or more dependent on them. The truth is that we are a minority so we do, somehow, depend on them. As of today, we depend on the people from the majority to also speak for us because there is safety and results in numbers. To call for the community to be the only one to be allowed to speak and defend itself is not going to get us anywhere.
Minorities and everyone who suffer discrimination in any form cannot afford to curl up in an armoured and restricted community that will be the only voice out there. We need people who, because of their gender, sexuality, skin colour, religious beliefs belong unwillingly to what is considered as the dominant group because they will be the first ones to be taken seriously by the said group and they will be role-models their peers will follow.
The first reaction we have in the face of someone else getting what we have is a feeling of self-defence so it’s dangerous to force the precept that we should only fight for our own privilege. It creates division and infighting when so much can be done by their free electrons to unite us under a common goal and make others understand that the fight for equality doesn’t deprive them of anything.
All these men – like me – who everyday explain to other men that women’s rights are not a personal threat to every living male. All these straight people I met at the gay pride who show the world everyday that gay rights are not a personal attack of straight people’s freedom. All these white people who campaign against racism. All these people who campaign for animal rights because they have no voice. History moves forward and our societies improve because people see beyond their own privilege, why stop them?
Where would the women of France be without the man who used his position of power to weather the storms of his sexist peers as he managed to convince them that contraception had nothing to with men but everything to do with women’s freedom to have control over their own body?
In South Africa, it took a white man to stop the Apartheid. Why? Because white people had the power but it doesn’t make Nelson Mandela and his life work irrelevant. De Klerk was a selfless force for good who saw beyond his own privilege and that’s what Mandela needed, what every black person in South Africa needed. People like him is what we all need.
Don’t let anyone restrict you to your own parish. You needn’t be a woman to fight for women’s rights, you needn’t be gay to fight for gay rights, you needn’t be fat to fight against body-shaming, you needn’t be discriminated to fight against discrimination.
If you want to help ring the bells of someone who, you know, is being ignored or discriminated, do it. If, for whatever reasons, the society has put you in a position of power and you want to use it to help others, do it.
Use your position to do good, we need all the help we can get.
…my mother’s son.
…a Xabi Alonso and Raul Albiol fanboy.
…ranting because I care.
…a member of Amnesty In.ternational , UN Women and The British Humanist Association.
…a citizen of the world.
…in control of my own destiny.
…bilingual through hard work.
…sarcastic, wry and witty.
…a cake lover.
…a milk addict.
…opinionated yet open-minded.
…knowledgeable and curious.
…well-informed and interested.
…patient with my friends.
…scathing with my enemies.
…not the kind of twee person who thinks swearing is a lack of education.
…not the kind of abuser who think insults are good argument.
…not to follow trends for the sake of it.
…able to fight without physical violence.
…able to know when determination becomes stubbornness.
…able to understand when a fight is not worth fighting.
…able to say that I am worried.
…able to admit that I am not just flawed.
…able to learn from my mistakes.
…able to acknowledge that I am anxious.
…in process of finding whence my anxiety springs.
…working to take on my own advice.
…working on accepting myself and my qualities.
…working on admitting that I can be wrong.
…working to be more positive.
…working to understand that feelings are not weakness.
…working to express out loud that I don’t know everything.
…willing to always learn and know more.
…learning to stop thriving for another version of me.
I am proud to be me.
In France, the Gay Pride is called “Marche des fiertés” – the Walk of the prides – which prompts someone on Twitter to say that in France, one is allowed to be proud of anything, except being heterosexual. The person is a proud member of the main right-wing party, of course, and belongs to a world chorus whining endlessly about their newly-born victimhood: we forbid their pride.
The fact is: you can be proud of anything you want, no one is stopping you but you can’t blame the rest of the world for not giving a pig’s bottom at you flaunting your privileges in the face of people who are still struggling everyday to be considered as normal citizens. At best! Homosexuality is still punishable by prison, torture and death in the world.
That’s what Pride Month is about and the marches that come with it: raising awareness and show that we are united and ever-ready to peacefully fight, along with millions of straight people, to be all equals.
So you are welcome to get your arse off your chair, to come and to join us. Even with a sign reading “I am proud to be straight” – if your commitment to your pride goes beyond the cheap 140-character Twitter rant, which I highly doubt. I mean, a pride is months of preparation, hours of setting-up, standing and waiting before you can eventually march.
But as I said no one is stopping you.
I am not here to talk about what gay people are going to do for it is simple: Keep living and carry on loving.
We have been the victims of all kinds of abuse since the dawn of monotheist religions: we have been denied, ignored, shamed, insulted, persecuted, trialled, imprisoned, exiled, assaulted, tortured in the name of finding a cure, burnt and murdered. And we still are. It has however never stopped us and it never will because we have no control over our heart which leads us to love.
I am here to talk about the desperation of the Right (mainly) and the major religious bodies in trying to condemn the act without having to change their rhetoric. We are told the killer has radicalised on line. No, he has not but right-wingers are all too happy to follow their archenemy Obama, for once. How convenient…The on-line, the unknown, the dark side, the uncontrollable where everything happens and all Evil springs.
Maybe the killer has indeed found a flag to fly on-line, the one of Daesh and the caliphate, but one needn’t go on line to find, hear, read, witness the reasons he proudly advertised as being his motivations: he was outraged by the sight of two gay people kissing. Two men, two women, who cares? His father brought water to the mill. He said his son killed “these faggots” because he was disgusted by them.
There are a lot of things you will solely find on-line but homophobia is not one of them. It is everywhere.
It is in the words and actions of our leaders, in every speech made by right-wing parties. It is in the US Congress, l’Assemblée Nationale, The House of Commons, Der Bundestag and all seats of democracies when debating any kind of laws that would put gay people on par with straight people. In France, MPs used the hemicycle to quote the Nazis almost words for words except that “Jews” was replaced by “Gays” such as: “Gays are the undertakers of mankind.” Putin has erected himself as a leader of the world against homosexuality, turning Russia into a lab of what a country can “lawfully” do to eradicate it. However, most countries did not wait for him to light the bonfire as most of Africa and Asia will kill you for being or suspecting you of being gay.
It is in the street, loud and proud. In France, for example, under the banner of La Manif Pour Tous – The Demonstration For Everyone – populated by people who don’t hesitate to drag their toddlers and under-10s in the streets of the major French cities holding signs saying that they “don’t want to marry their brother”. The link? Gayness, incest, paedophilia…All is linked obviously and proudly shouted by people in the name of freedom of expression.
It is at the core of our societies in the name of religion: Judaim, Christianity, Islam all based on books supposedly mentioning homosexuality as a crime punishable by death. These books are 2000 to 1400 years old and so vague that it can be interpreted as one wish – hence the countless currents, divisions and endless infighting behind three banners: Orthodox Christians, Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans, Calvinists, Lutherans, Sunnis, Shiites, Yazedis, Jews, Orthodox Jews, Ashkenazi Jews…However, they find their common ground in the God-wanted submission of women and eradication of homosexuality.
Let’s focus a second on Catholicism for two reasons: it is the only one to have an official, universally acknowledged, accepted and followed hierarchy and it prides itself of being the heir of the Ancient Greek democratic process and the inspiration for all modern democratic process. What does it say about homosexuality? A sin. With various degrees of punishment – Hell being the softest as they, thankfully, have no control over where we do or don’t go after we die. They have been fiercely and continuously condemning every single equality law in every single country with an extra layer of hate speech in the name of a God.
What about the killer in all this? The killer’s father was very clear: his son’s mistake was to have believed it was his duty to carry God’s punishment. He should not have done it. It was for God to decide, not him. The death of gay people is justified and a good thing, but just not that way. I’ll let you digest the the failure of our education system and thrive for tolerance as they are constantly attacked by everyone on the right of the political spectrum.
The killer did not radicalise on-line. He didn’t radicalise because his parents are Afghans. He did not radicalise because he was a Muslim. He radicalised because the world is still crusading against something people have no control on: their feelings. And at the head of this crusade are right-wingers and religious authorities whose desperation is growing as days pass.
Indeed, they need to join the chorus of voices condemning the killing by an Muslim because that’s at the core of their scaremongering push for dominance, however the motives are their own rhetoric. How do you condemn someone who justified his killing innocents using what you gleefully preach? How dare the Catholic Church “empathise with families” when they believe their murdered loved ones are now burning in Hell?
So, in addition to trying to come to terms with the atrocities, the past few days have forced us, the LGBT community, to listen to our usual attackers removing the LGBT factor from the picture altogether. The gayness of people is irrelevant in all this, we hear. Suddenly, we are all one, all Westerners in war against the same enemy, radical Islam, or just Islam for most anti-gay people. This is no hate crime which is coming as a direct consequence of their increasingly violent push for institutionalised intolerance and exclusion. What the killer said were his motives was just a cover, it’s nothing in the grand scheme of things, just a detail from a mad man. It’s Daesh, it’s Islam, this is a proper terrorist attack and we are all in this together (and those who disagree are therefore in line with Daesh.)
Bottom-line, deniers will be deniers. The traditionally anti-gay commiserating and expressing sympathy for the families need to move the debate on grounds that are more convenient to them, especially as it erases their hate speech as one of the main sources of the problem. I am not denying there is more to what he did than homophobia. Notwithstanding, it is not bad enough for them to deny us in life, they also deny us in death to protect, if not further, their agenda. This is beyond the pale.