Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Reframing the Debate

It's no secret that gay people have become society's scapegoat recently. Conservatives all too often use us to get out their voters (in the form of marriage amendments) . They scare people into voting by telling them how we are going to indoctrinate their kids and take over the world. They use us to deflect voters' attention from real issues and problems going on in politics (see Texas' recent marriage amendment brought up during the midst of the worst school finance problem in the state's history or the recent claim from politicians in the Bahamas that students in school are low performers due to rampant lesbianism among teachers and students). It's sometimes so obvious it's funny, but people fall for it, and we end up the losers.

I'm sick of it. We have to take over the debate. I know it seems like an almost insurmountable task for a tiny minority group to reframe a debate, but it has to happen, and it has to happen through gay people connecting to the rest of the population, not as people that need to be accepted even if we are different, but as people that need to be accepted because we are the same as they are.

I just can't fathom the idea that someone that is not gay is telling me that I'm not a moral person for being attracted to other guys. How we managed to let this fall into a morality debate is beyond me. Now that it's there, we have to show why it isn't about morality, it's about people.

The in your face arguments of the past, "We're here, we're queer, get used to it," don't work. I'd argue that they dig us into a deeper whole. Even the more subdued version involving two men in tuxedos in tv ads don't hit home with people in the heartland. When the typical citizen sees a message like that, they too easily label the messenger as "other" and don't even try to relate to them, and the stereotypes trupmeted by the far right just become cemented into the minds of non-gay Americans. We are defining ourselves as different when we should be defining ourselves as the same. The images of two guys getting married can come, but if they come too early, we make potential allies uncomfortable from the get go.

We're starting to reframe the debate, we really are. And I hate to discount the out and proud activists that work so hard trying to get our message across, but at some point we have to look at what is working and what isn't.

It's a proven fact that the best way to change opinions about gay people is knowing a gay person. It forces a person to realize that gay people aren't the "monsters" portrayed by the AFA, Focus on the Family and other groups that work so hard earning money off of the backs of gay people. We have to take that to a national level. I'm talking about leaning on activists that have a more mainstream appeal. The Chad Allen types, the Patrick Guerriero (head of the Log Cabin Republicans) types, hey maybe even the allegedly gay Anderson Cooper types.

Nothing against Elton John, but he's just not making the right connection with the heartland, and until we make that connection, we will continue to allow the right wing to frame a debate. Sure, middle aged men and women love him, but they see him as an entertainer (and a flambouyant one at that), not as someone that is just like them. So, the stereotypes they work so hard to continue continue to be accepted. This debate affects us, not them, and we have to take this out of the morality realm (because it isn't about morality) and into the personal realm. Until we do that, progress will be slow in coming.


At 13/2/06 8:14 AM, Blogger EL said...


What you said about Elton John being an "entertainer" seems to me to get to the crux of the issue. LGBT folks in all parts of life, journalist Anderson Cooper is a good example, rather than just as "performers" will take us farther.

At 14/2/06 3:22 PM, Blogger Brady said...

Thanks el, good point!


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