Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
February 24, 2012
Can A Case Be Made For Equality By Observing That We Are Just Like Them?
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
LinkedIn maintains discussions for their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual &Transgender Community Center Group. There are between fifteen and twenty-five ongoing discussion threads, some of them narrow in scope and others wide open. The one that caught our attention asks: what do people feel are the top three issues facing the LGBT community in the 21st century? Some of the replies are: marriage equality, legal and economic equality, government support for services, anything benefiting questioning youth, and safe and affordable housing for LGBT seniors. Notice that all of these answers are all external to the LGBT community.
Challenges Within The Community
Surprisingly, challenges within the community were also cited: racism, classism, ageism, lack of caring for each other, and, a startling for us, the schism between gay men and lesbians. Reading the internal challenges reminded us of something that happened about 15 years ago. Our workplace had started an LGBT Employee Association and its inaugural event was a presentation by a straight ally. He extolled the virtues of the LGBT community: loving, caring, thoughtful, altogether deserving of equal treatment and full incorporation in the workplace. We had brought our gay son as a guest and during the Q&A afterward he laid into the speaker. The gist of his comments was that the LGBT community is like any other community and suffers from whatever other communities suffer from: economic inequality, racism, and strict social hierarchies. The reason LGBT people deserve equal treatment and full incorporation into the workplace is because they are people and not just members of a romanticized and idealized community.
Can We Now Make A More Useful Argument?
So here is our question. Would it be useful to achieve equal rights (in all social aspects) and full integration by writing and citing examples showing that our LGBT community is a reflection of the larger community with all its glories and all its warts; literally hold up a mirror? If that sounds crazy, or maybe even scary, can we do something with the underlying premise? In other words, can we say that that which sets the LGBT community apart is not what we do or say, but what the larger community does or says about us? And what they say about us, they are essentially saying about themselves. Does that make sense?
We are out of our depth here, because it occurs to us that every other marginalized community can say the same thing and we have not studied that. We intuit, for example, that women are marginalized because of the shape of their skin; people of color are marginalized because of the color of their skin; LGBT people are marginalized because of their sexual identity and orientation. Can we say that in all three examples, the dominant group seized upon a single difference, was afraid of it, blew up the difference and found “dangers to the stability of all society” as an excuse to marginalize communities?
We don’t have the answers, but it may be worthwhile to pursue this line of thought.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org