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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Playing with the boys

Confronting misogyny in the LGBT leadership

It is with a heavy heart that I sit down to write this article. I am feeling as if I have come full circle and, in the process, went absolutely nowhere. I am an old school radical lesbian feminist separatist who was fool enough to try to reach out across the abyss that separates us to some kind and gentle men in my local gay community.

At first I was completely reassured that there were men in this world who are unfettered by the legacy handed down from both the insitutional and familial patriarchs that control our daily lives. I found brilliance and beauty in the creative spark that I share with many gay men. Their generalized love of the arts gave me hope for common ground in areas other than the oppression we share. As I have said, I am a lesbian. I have been “out” for 27 years.

For many of those years, I was unable to fully participate in community political activities due to educational endeavors, family responsibilities, and, more recently, heath problems. I have managed to a few things on the way to my mid-fifties including writing for a couple of lesbian publications and, now, LGBT publications. I have also been known to sit on a board or two, organize a group here and there, and produce some events for the community. It has been a labor of love.

I have bonded with my community more in the last four or five years than ever before, given the lack of obstacles to freedom of expression as in prior years with family, housing, and job considerations. It is a welcome relief to be “out” in every arena of my life. Too many times, we dismiss the stress brought on by a life in the closet. It is very real.

So I looked forward to my senior years when I could write with abandon without regard for anyone who might be looking over my shoulder intent on imposing their homophobic values on everyone around them. There are lots of those folks here where I live, but if the truth were to be told, there are lots of them everywhere, especially in the current American political climate. The entire country seems to have taken on the values that I fled in my youth when I moved West to escape my Southern Baptist roots. But in the end, I had to go home to fight these battles. Sometimes it takes a native’s insight to war against the particular factions that oppress our community in a given geographic region.

We like to say that we are on the front lines of the culture war. I am proud to stand beside my brothers in this fight. At least I was proud. Lately some troulblesome attitudes have reared their ugly little heads, and I am once again confronting misogyny. That deadly foe was front and center in my life for many years. After my Mother’s husband killed her in cold blood and O.J.’d his way out of it, I knew that this opponent would be first in my battles against injustice.

We were separatists in the 70s because we knew that all men are basically misogynist, and relationships between men and women are inherently unequal. Why in the hell did I forget that? How stupid have I been to delude myself into believing that there are kind and gentle men? They may treat each other with respect and dignity, but don’t hold your breath if you don’t have a penis.

All I can say is this: I am not laying down my sword, but my shield will be a little higher from this day forward as the battles become more fierce here on the front lines. Unfortunately my shield is needed not just for the Jerry Falwell’s and Dick Cheney’s, but also to fend off the barbs of my comrades as they seek to position themselves in the community.

It’s a shame. It’s a waste of time, energy, and resources that could be used much more productively against the onslaught from the religious reich.

But, I guess boys will be boys.

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