Drowning in Politics: Where’s the LGBT Education?

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I’m frustrated. I probably shouldn’t even be writing, but I am.

It’s Monday. What’s the big news in the LGBT world? Kind of two biggies I guess…

1) Those crazy Prop 8 proponents filed their 134-page argument to the Circuit of Appeals. I could wade through the whole thing for you if you’d like, but today I just can’t be bothered. It’s the same old nonsense: procreation, victim status, etc. Read the P8TT links, because a lot of others have already dissected it pretty well.

2) Tomorrow the Senate will vote on whether to vote on whether to let Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell be considered for repeal by the Joint Chiefs at a later, uncertain date. And who is getting all the media attention to affect this cloture vote? Lady Gaga.

Kudos to Gaga, really. She’s taking this pretty seriously and being strategic about encouraging us Little Monsters to call our Senators and tonight she’s in Maine targeting undecided Senators there.

But I’m frustrated because we’re drowning in politics. If you look at all the groups who are working to support LGBT equality, you see a lot of political strategy (lobbying, direct action political pressure, support for gay candidates, support for gay-friendly candidates, gay Republicans who don’t care about LGBT issues) and legal efforts. Where is the education? Who’s doing it? Our Community Centers get really lousy financial support and currently only reach a few metropolitan areas.  They do great work, but with what they have to work with, they’re barely making dents.

I live in Middle America. Where I live I face housing discrimination, employment discrimination, and marriage discrimination. Sure I can stream LOGO and watch Will & Grace reruns on Lifetime, but my area is still unwelcoming for queer folks and there is minimal queer visibility. But of course, a vote on a vote on a potential repeal and an election of lesser evils have to be our main priority so that six years from now we can elect a President with the same talking points that we loved about this one. I have to be patient; it’s not our turn yet. We’re still stuck on survival and just getting by on the scraps of victory we can get.

Well, when does anyone educate Middle America? Our movement is all about money and influence. And money. But decades of money and influence haven’t really changed life out here in the sticks. Who’s going to start educating people outside of the maybe-six gay haven cities? Where’s the national campaign to say, “All those things you believe about homosexuality? You’re wrong.”

Frankly, at this point, I struggle to even care about this DADT vote. It’s not real repeal—there’s no end to discharges in sight—but we’re such scaredy cats we’re not even sure if Senator Reid should take the vote if he isn’t sure he has the votes. All that work to get nowhere because of the importance of the midterm elections. Meanwhile, to their credit, the Log Cabin Republicans were getting the law declared unconstitutional on its face while the rest of us (myself ashamedly included) weren’t even paying attention. Of course, the LCRs never hedge on supporting Republicans whether they’re anti-gay or not, so we had reason not to trust them, but they showed us just how inefficient we can be with both our time and money, especially since we’re still not sure whether we have the votes for a vote that doesn’t even repeal. But hey, we’ve got Lady Gaga on our side. That’ll make the difference.

I’m not seeing it. I’m not seeing change. What I do see are schools that have unchangingly negative climates. I see universities that have unchangingly negative climates. I see communities that have unchangingly negative climates. I see the same old myths and stereotypes perpetuated with the same full force and getting the same full attention by the media.

And I can’t help but worry that on the day that all the legal victories are secure, the work will end, as if that’s all it takes. In the meantime, Middle America continues to be a wasteland for real LGBT change.

My work is just beginning.

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