This is a brief talk I wrote to give in China. I had an awesome translator – a colleague named Brigid Vance – and we got at maybe 10% of what’s here. The language is meant to be simple because I was speaking to a group who either had no or very little English and was also trying to take it easy on my translator.
That said, in the light of the ongoing bathroom laws, it might be helpful for those who are wondering how bathrooms became the place of contention, and maybe it answers a little bit of why.
Not that understanding will help you feel less angry. Nothing should. Stay angry. Keep fighting.
Marginalized Minority Backlash and the LGBTQ*
I want to talk today about the ways that minority groups have diverse needs even within group, specifically about how some types of marginalization may not be obvious or identifiable while trying to provide services to them. That is, different populations within a marginalized community may not access or use those services equally. I will talk specifically about how marginalized communities may not only not benefit equally, but will as well contend with significant backlash due to the change in the group’s status as a whole, and how that backlash is likely to target the most discriminated against group in order to undermine the group’s rights as a whole.
In the United States, there have been significant gains for the LGBTQ population. Gay and lesbian people can now marry, serve in the US military, and in many places, adopt children. Crimes against them are now monitored and recorded in a way that they have never been before, and extra penalties are added to sentences if a crime against them was motivated by hate, or specifically, by homophobia – which is the specific fear/hatred of gay and lesbian people. For some people, these gains have happened very quickly, when it has taken decades of work by gay and lesbian activists to make this happen, which was, in turn, motivated by life and death issues such as the AIDS crisis, high rates of discrimination in employment, substance abuse, depression and suicide. Nationally, then, gays and lesbians have more rights and acceptance than they ever have in US history, but there are many more people than only gays and lesbians in the movement on their behalf.
The term LGBTQ* (or +) is used to indicate the many identities that make up the “gay” movement. The letters stand for lesbian, gay. Bisexual, trans, and queer people, but those are only the first few. Other times may include people who are agender (no gender) or androgynous, crossdressers, drag queens, drag kings, and those who are in some other way GNC (Gender Non Conforming). The diversity is diverse. It includes anyone who is discriminated against due to their sexual orientation (who they have sex with) and many people who are discriminated against due to their gender identity (who they are) or gender expression (what they look and act like).
This group as a whole is very small – estimates vary from 5 – 12% of the population, but the subgroups within are even smaller. Some are only 1-2% of the population, and in US politics, minorities often need to make alliances with similar others in order to make any political headway. Often, the governing idea is that the LGBTQ+ population is made up of all the people who other groups of people dislike for their gender and/or sexuality.
The US was one of the last Western nations to make marriage between people of the same sex legal, but it has now joined a growing number of countries which recognizes not only same sex attraction but the need to legally recognize those relationships. It is a very significant victory which solidifies the rights of gay and lesbian people as well as their children’s rights; in fact, the Obergefell v Hodges ruling underscores the rights of the children of gays and lesbians – by previous marriage, adoption, or reproductive technology – in its decision. Marriage, however, does not solve many problems for many other sexual and gender minorities; instead, it benefits those who are already in better shape than others. Continue Reading