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An eye for an eye won’t solve everything

By |2008-11-13T09:00:00-05:00November 13th, 2008|Opinions|

When someone gets punched, the natural reaction is to punch back.
In the past week, as anti-Proposition 8 protests and demonstrations and marches flanked the streets of San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles, the need to reflect on the way to get things done is upon us.
We can stand here and waste time asking those who have recently publicly denounced Proposition 8 “Where were you before the election? Where was your public support and your check book?”
Pointing fingers is easy.
What’s hard is accepting that – as far as we know, those some 2.5 million uncounted votes aside – Proposition 8 has passed in California. It’s done, and any angry fist shaking at those who weren’t fighting against it from day one isn’t going to retroactively change any votes to “no.”
That said, there are many protests coming up (including one that spans the entire U.S. this Saturday) that people will attend. Emotions are running high, blood is pumping and we are tempted to hit every donating Mormon and hate-spouting “traditional marriage” supporter until they hurt as much as we do for having our rights, once again, decided upon by a majority that refuses to look beyond their narrow, homophobic scope.
In fact, some groups are already doing that. A man tore a “Yes on 8” sign from another man’s truck in California, prompting the driver to beat the snot out of him in the middle of the road. Here in Michigan, radical LGBT activist group Bash Back! invaded an anti-gay church in Lansing, showering them with fliers, pulling a fire alarm and shouting things like “Jesus was a homo!”
It is so tempting, while we are all so hurt, to channel our emotions into in-your-face actions like those.
But what will it solve?
Popping the comfortable homophobic bubbles that many people live in is an important part of changing attitudes, but there are tactful, thoughtful ways to do it, and then there are ways driven by emotion. That’s not to say that over-the-top activism hasn’t ever changed things for the better – it has. But for the general citizen-supporter, in the long run, it’s not the way to achieve equality and acceptance.
Emotion only drives emotion. Borderline violent, intrusive acts like shouting in someone’s face in the middle of their church service or attacking their car are not going to change anyone’s opinion. In fact, it may only confirm what they already believed, pushing them deeper into their homophobic holes and strengthening the armor of anti-gay belief that protects them. Yes, those gays are crazy. Yes, they’re violent. No, they don’t deserve my rights.
By all means, participate in protests. Write letters to the editor. Sit next to an anti-gay person during their church service wearing a T-shirt that reads “Gay and Proud.” Break those bubbles.
But do it in a way that will actually be effective.
Take a deep breath and put emotion aside, because passion for a cause is not enough to make it happen. We need positive action. We need educational dialogue. We need a strategy.
And despite the anger felt over the loss of the Prop 8 battle, the election of Barack Obama and a Democratic majority in the House and Senate – plus the mostly-peaceful, very visible action already taking place across the country – is a really good start.

About the Author:

Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.
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