Dear Queer Folks and Social Justice Allies-
After Tuesday’s events, I wanted to run north to Canada, curl up in the fetal position, and practice saying “eh.” But, I thought better of it and felt compelled to write a letter to our communities. Regardless of political affiliations, I know many among us are disheartened and scared by the passage of 11 state Constitutional bans on equal access to marriage (known in the main stream as ‘gay marriage’). The implications of those results impact us here in Washington, though we are a state on the brink of creating legal access to marriage for queer folks. While marriage may or may not be the top of our personal political agendas, the passage of these amendments was a clear sign that queer-baiting, homophobia, and heterosexism are alive and well and used as political tools. This election also brought us the age-old tactic of race-baiting and racism. It is easy in the wake of these steps backward to feel hopeless. Our grief, anger, and frustration can, however, be tools of action to move us through this reactionary time.
I thought I’d pass along some wisdom my PFLAG president mother brought home from the National PFLAG conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Here they are, the Top Ten Things to Remember in social justice movements as seen through the lavender eyes of a PFLAG Mom.
10. Duh! The conference was in SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, how’s that for progress?
9. Always lose forward…even in losses gain ground. We have done this. The concept of two people of the same gender sharing a life together and having it sanctioned by law was fantasy a mere 5 years ago. Now, nearly half the people in this country believe that equal access to marriage is the fair and right thing to do. And, that my dear friends, is without much of a public education campaign.
8. Always guard your silent auction item intently because some PFLAG parents will knock you out to win a bag of triangle shaped rainbow pasta.
7. It is only for now. (Actually, this tid-bit comes to us from Avenue Q)
6. Be sad, mad, afraid, and then get on with the work of social justice.
5. Never be late to meet Esera Tuaolo. I mean, he does not want to hear about it and he is still pissed about the rainbow pasta!
4. Our wins are always more important than our losses.
3. PFLAG parents and allies love queers more than others hate us. And if we could just get organized, there are more social-justice loving people in this country than hate extremists. “So the question is not whether we will be extremists but what kind of extremist will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice–or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?” (Martin Luther King Jr., April 1963)
2. Just because you have a queer child does not give you permission to throw about the word fabulous as if you invented it! I’m queer; not you Mom!
And the number 1 piece of social justice wisdom my mother brought to me from the Salt Lake City, Utah (a red state) National PFLAG Convention was: If your mission can be accomplished in a life-time, you are not dreaming big enough!
To those on the University of Washington campus who might take the election results and mistakenly believe that those 11 states know something about you that you do not, like maybe you are not worth equal rights or your family is not a “true family,” do not buy the hype. If we voted on the Bill of Rights today, it would likely fail by a similar margin. Please know that your worth and value as a human being is not a vote-able issue. It is not up for debate. And, never, regardless of how many times humans will fail to recognize our fundamental error and repeat horrors of history, never is anyone ever less than human, less than worthy of equality, respect, dignity, and honor.
This is just one of many battles allies for social justice have faced, just one of many stands in the fight for civil rights for all. Let us remember that 35 years ago queers were still being arrested for wearing the “wrong clothes” and now we openly debate our access to marriage, which in itself is a courageous act (whether you believe in the institution of marriage or not…it is inherently courageous to speak a truth to power). I’m reminding myself and you as I write.
I just wanted you to know that the Q Center is here on campus for you, though not yet in our space, we are here in energy and we support you.
In Peace and Respect-