Friday, August 6, 2010

Open Letter To The President About Gay Rights

Like many of my fellow gays and lesbians, I have been overjoyed this week by the court decision striking down Proposition 8. I have also been less than pleased with the lackluster response (try none) from the White House. This morning I received am email from asking me to stay committed to the fight against racial discrimination. I wrote this letter to the president in response:

Mr. President,

I received an email today from written by Congressman John Lewis. It was about how there is still racial discrimination in this country and how I need to do more to combat that. It then asked for me to pledge more help in the fight.

I am a gay man who is one of the 18,000 gay couples married in California two years ago. As I am sure you are aware, there was a major victory for the rights of gay and lesbian people to marry that was handed down two days ago. I want to know where the message from the White House is that addresses the discrimination that still exists for gays and lesbians. Where is the call to continue the struggle for our rights? Where is the email from written by Congressman Barney Frank talking about Stonewall and its impact on the gay and lesbian equality movement? Where is the personal note from you, Mr. President, congratulating our community and reminding us to keep our resolve as we move forward in this struggle? The only news about a statement I have heard out of the White House is a reaffirmation that you are still against same-sex marriage. That is wrong.

While I am very much a supporter of racial equality and the end of racial discrimination, this week is about and should be about discrimination toward gays and lesbians. I find it in very poor taste to ignore the great victory and joy I am feeling at finally having my rights protected while asking me to further commit to the struggles of another targeted group.

It is time to get off the fence on this issue, Mr. President. It is time for the about face that so many of your fellow politicians have had on this issue. I don't want a president that only pays lip service to my rights. I want a president that puts the full power of his office into actively fighting for my rights. One day our children will look back on this time in much the same way people look back on the days of segregation. How will they remember you on this issue?

Thank you for your time.


Cole Alexander

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gay Apologists Unite! You Greedy Uncle Toms.

After reading this snapshot of the struggles facing Gay America, I find myself appalled that such a discussion is even taking place. In the end, the only conclusion I can come to is that self-loathing and greed are at the heart of this appeasement. How else could such out gay notables take this defeatist stance? From my perspective, it seems that they are happy to be on the Gay bandwagon as long as the checks are rolling in and they are getting to rub elbows with the Hollywood elite, but as soon as it is time to take a stand for something greater and push back against the chains that bind us all, these so-called leaders do nothing more than make excuses and defend our oppressors! To them I say: You are no better than those who did this in the first place. You share an equal portion of the guilt. The same as if you had entered the polling place and yourself voted Yes on 8. There is a term for people such as you: Uncle Tom. Wear it with pride because you certainly have none for being Gay.

I do not dispute the fact that individuals in this country have the right to their own political and religious point of view. I have no problem with the thought of someone donating money to a political cause that I do not agree with. That is the very meaning of democracy, and taking into consideration the fact that I believe the recognition of civil rights should never be open to political debate, I would not seek to rob anyone of their ability to express themselves in this way. However, it is undeniable that the very act of such expression opens the door for reaction and dissent. What else are the boycotts and demonstrations but dissent in the face of those who have betrayed our trust and stripped of us our rights as Gay Americans?

I find it reprehensible to think that individuals such as Bill Condon would seek to turn the spotlight off of our oppressors by blaming the victims. His very words and actions give the impression that our rage in the face of this injustice is some sort of overreaction. His pathetic excuse, "some people, including Rich, saw Prop. 8 not as a civil rights issue but a religious one. That is their right. And it is not, in and of itself, proof of bigotry," is nothing more than the empty mouthing of a self-loathing sycophant seeking to ingratiate himself with his masters. Perhaps he anticipates further lucrative deals as a pat on the head for his staunch loyalty.

I find the same argument to hold true for Bruce Cohen, who defends our subjugators by drawing a distinction between the owner of a company and an individual employee within that company. Of course, given that anything other than his complete obedience would result in the failure of his film before it has a chance to exploit the checkbooks of his fellow Gay Americans, this assertion is understandable. What he seems to overlook is that regardless of where the money comes from - the owner or the individual employee - ultimately it is being used to discriminate and strip the rights of Americans. By absolving individuals of their actions because they are somehow not big enough to matter, sends the message that as long as one is not the owner of a company, it is perfectly acceptable to fund hate and discrimination. In light of his statements, I find I can do no less than refuse to see his movie, Milk. It makes no difference to me if he was a "leader of the No on 8 campaign in Hollywood." His involvement now seems more to have been motivated by a desire to give his film added publicity rather than to further any cause of Gay Americans!

As for the Sundance Film Festival, if they choose to go ahead with screening their films at a business that uses its profits to grind Americans under the heel of despotism and bigotry, it makes no difference whether or not they have been supportive of us in the past. In the here and now they must not be allowed to be a conduit for further use of Gay dollars to attack and ravage Gay Americans! While Hollywood glitterati may be willing to compromise their values when it comes to advancing their own careers, individuals who truly believe in taking a stand against repression and tyranny should not support this endeavor. However, should Sundance choose to move their festival to a place that has not been tainted by complicity to discrimination, they would be deserving of our continued support.

These Uncle Toms and the people around them should be a reminder to all Gay Americans that, when it comes to our freedom, no one is going to do it for us. The very ease with which we are pushed aside in favor of other priorities proves this. We have come too far to compromise and apologize our way back into the closet. Do not be fooled by the argument that this is a matter of religious belief. Religion has no place in the discussion of our rights! People's religious ideas are no excuse for stripping us of what is justly ours as humans and Americans. Furthermore, do not fall victim to the idea that money can in any way be used to call into question equality! There is never an excuse for tyranny.

I leave you with these words of Florynce R. Kennedy: There can be no really pervasive system of oppression . . . without the consent of the oppressed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gay Rights Under Attack! Take To The Streets! Fight Back!

Today the California Supreme Court agreed to decide the fate of Proposition 8. So what? Does this mean we can breathe a sigh of relief, go back to what we were doing before, and leave it to them to handle? I think not. Regardless of the decision the justices hand down, the work of Gay Americans has only begun. I read recently that gays "can't keep marching forever". I was shocked. We've barely had two weeks of getting out into the streets, and already we are talking about the next step? This is not only premature, it robs us all of the right to express our ire and frustration in a conspicuous, OUT way. It strips us of the very visibility that is our greatest strength! This battle for freedom may be advanced in the coutroom, but it will be won on the streets. Only when everyone is forced to admit the fact that we are not going to go away quietly and allow these kinds of attacks to continue will we ever be afforded the same rights as the heterosexual.

At the rally this weekend, I kept hearing the same message: Be patient. Don't antagonize our allies. Remember that we need to be reaching out and building coalitions. All of these are good sentiments, but I feel they fall short of the true message. After hundreds, if not thousands, of years of persecution, it is my belief we have been patient enough. Our struggle did not begin on November 4, 2008. That day merely marks another event in a long list of atrocities committed against Gays by those whose sole purpose is to terrorize and victimize people they perceive as weaker than themselves. As for antagonizing our allies, if they are truly our allies, they will not be antagonized. If anything, they will be galvanzied in their support of us. No one wants to put themselves out for a lost cause. By showing our strength, we show we are capable of utilizing their support. By taking the offensive, we prove we are a force to be reckoned with in our own right. Strength brings alliances, but alliances do not always bring strength.

This leads me to the message that we need to be reaching out and building coalitions, which I find by far, to be the most insidious message of them all. In these words, I hear the cries of all those Gay boys and girls, rejected by their families and society, pleading for the acceptance they have so long been denied. I say acceptance has no place in this conversation. We do not need coalitions in order to have our fundamental rights recognized. We do not need majority approval to follow our hearts and pursue our own forms of happiness. Coalitions are wonderful and amazing things, and they are a powerful message that communities can come together to solve certain problems. But in the end, this is OUR problem to solve - with or without coalitions. So why are we reaching out to them? It is their responsibility to reach out to us. After all, Gay America encompasses every other group there is. By our very nature, all walks of life, races, cultures and socio-economic classes are included under our banner. There is no need to reach out. We are all-inclusive. It is time we demanded recognition of that fact rather than beg for it.

And if you need further proof, just look around.We are being called anarchists and rioters. It is being said that we are undermining the very foundations of democracy by setting ourselves against the will of the majority. What these slurs really mean is that this strategy is working! Our presence in the streets is having the effect of calling out into the open all of the evil that has been, and continues to be, directed our way. By marching, we bring the hate and bigotry into the light with us. The beauty of it is that Americans have seen this all before. By making it personal and public, we remind them of the struggles for equality that have already been fought and won. They have been down this road. They know where this will lead. They know in their hearts that some day in the future, this time and these attiudes will also be considered a dark chapter in our history. They know that one day WE will be celebrating the election of the first Gay American as President of the United States. However, that day will be farther and farther away if today we allow ourselves to become complacent and put our future into the hands of others rather than our own. There is so much more than Gay marriage to work toward, and the time is now to take back all of what is rightfully ours. Get out into the streets. Force the hypocrisy and bigotry into the open. Face it head on, and defeat it with pride.

I think this is best summed up in a chant I heard at the rally: Gay rights under attack! Take to the streets! Fight back!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Being gay Isn't Enough

Listening to the radio in the car this morning, I got to hear people call in and justify why they voted yes on Proposition 8 and why they continue to support marriage inequality. One man said he had supported it on purely biblical terms. He stated over and over and over again that there was no other reason than "biblical" for him. As if that makes it all OK and that blaming it on the bible magically absolves one of all responsibility for anything he or she might do. I took away your right to marry purely for biblical reasons. I lynched you purely for biblical reasons. I stoned your sister purely for biblical reasons. I dragged you behind a car, strung you up, and left you to die purely for biblical reasons. I set your church on fire because your biblical reasons are not my biblical reasons. It's OK, though, because it's biblical. Seems like a slippery slope to me.

Even more frightening than that, though, was the next caller. This self-described 57 year old African American man put forth that homosexuals should instead have put on the ballot an initiative giving themselves the same rights as marriage but just calling it something else. He said that he would be happy to vote for hospital visitation and property ownership and insurance benefits as long as it is not called a marriage. It was a powerful statement for me. Is that all marriage is? I found the words being juxtaposed in my mind so that now he said he would be happy to vote to provide separate drinking fountains and separate schools and separate seats on the back of the bus as long as they are not called drinking fountains, schools, or seats. Instead they would be named civil water dispensaries, civil education centers, and civil transitory resting locations. It's still the same thing, right?

It is ironic to me that these words were spoken by a man old enough to remember the way it used to be before all those court decisions recognized his equality, but who still sees absolutely no similarities between the struggles of homosexuals and the struggles of African Americans or other minorities. Struggles for civil rights are, by their very nature, defined by what is being withheld. Homosexuals have had to fight for employment protections and housing protections and hate crime protections just like any other group,but what makes us a unique minority, rather than an amalgam of all those other groups, is our sexual orientation. And it is because of that very uniqueness that we need recognition of certain other civil rights that all straight people, regardless of their minority or majority status, enjoy. Whether they are Caucasian American, African American, Mexican American, Native American, all straight men and women are secure in the knowledge they can get married, join the military, adopt children, and file joint tax returns without ever having to ask for permission from the government or their neighbors. They are Americans, and that is their right.

So I say that it is no longer enough to just be gay. In the same way other minorities have defined themselves in order to further their own struggles for equal rights, it is time for homosexuals - for US - to define ourselves, too. It is time to become Gay Americans. There is something powerful in that identification. Being an American implies certain inalienable rights and a level of equality with all other citizens. It is an affiliation to be proud of and one for which many people have fought and died to provide. It is time for our people to reclaim being American. It is time for us to pull together under a common banner that signifies our status as equal members of this society with the full rights and responsibilities afforded to others. Changing from gay to Gay American is one step in that journey.

In the past, the task was for homosexuals to come out and be visible to family and friends, coworkers and neighbors - and we did. The success of that strategy is evident in the struggle of today. That the argument is no longer for us to keep quiet and stay out of sight is in itself a powerful reminder that we have already come so far in this struggle. However, it also proves that we have the ability to go further, but like all things in life, we have to evolve. It is no longer enough to come out only to those in our immediate surroundings. We must do more. It is time to shake off the shackle of being a "community": the GLBTetc Community. A community is a place where individuals of similar interests come together. We are not a place, and outside of the desire for equality, we don't always have similar interests! It is time to embrace that we are a beautiful, amazing, well-defined group of LIVING PEOPLE within the larger population, and as such, we deserve the recognition and the rights given to all others. Being gay is no longer enough. We must be Gay Americans!

And the greatest beauty of being a Gay American? You can still be an African American, a Latino American, a Native American, an Asian American, or any other kind of American. That is part of what makes us strong!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Proposition 8. There is so much that comes up for me when I write these words that I am finding it difficult to know where to begin. Like many of my gay brothers and sisters here in California, I was shocked by the passage of such a blatantly discriminatory and bigoted law. I truly thought the people of California had moved beyond this. I felt that maintaining our image of being on the forefront of societal evolution and advancement would be enough for people to swing this vote in our favor. I donated money. I talked to my fiends and family. I put reminders in our school newsletter. I voted early. In short, I did what I thought would be more than was necessary for victory. It never occurred to me that an electorate willing to vote for an African American would also be wlling to vote to deny the rights of my group: Gay Americans.

I was despondent that Wednesday morning, and all I could focus on was the news reports that African American women were somehow the deciding factor in 8's passage. I felt hurt and sadness and rage. I wanted to yell "Shame on you!" to the first black I saw. I found myself looking around me at the people driving their cars and wondering if they had been one of the 52% that voted to take away my marriage. I wanted to go out and start an initiative that would somehow set them back as far and make them feel as bad as I did right then. No matter where I turned or what I did, thoughts of this betrayal by my fellow Americans would not leave my mind.

My class that morning was taught by an African American woman, and as I sat in my usual seat wondering again how this had happened and what my next steps would be, she walked into the room. Before even putting her things down, she walked up to me, put her hand on my shoulder and said, "I voted No." It touched something deep within me. My sadness was not dispelled, and my anger was not diminished. But I realized that 52% is a lot more than African American women. 52% is all kinds of people, and it is counterproductive to begin laying the blame at the feet of one particular group. Don't get me wrong, those minorities who voted for this terrible thing should feel ashamed to their very cores, but in a 52% world, I realized that for each minority who voted to take away my rights, one stepped up and voted for me to keep them. That is what I focus on now.

I also think the time to let this decision be decided nicely by the electorate has passed. Like any struggle for their rights, the minority must agitate until those rights are RECOGNIZED NOT BESTOWED! By putting this up for a vote, there is the message that this issue is for anyone to decide. It is not for anyone to decide but my spouse and me. And to all those who say this is the will of the people, I say the true purpose of our Founders was to protect the minority from the will of the majority. My marriage is mine. No one's but mine. Keep your fucking morals out of it!

And to all of those who think it is time to go back and raise more money and make more phone calls and wait two more years for another election cycle, I say you are so out of touch it is scary. The time is NOW! I refuse to wait two more years for what is mine. I refuse to be satisfied with having rights only in California. I refuse to put my rights to yet another vote. It is time to show people that they need to back off. I'm hearing in the news that supporters of Prop 8 are asking why we don't just get over it. I want to know why THEY don't just get over it! Why don't THEY just quietly shake their heads and realize that this is the way of the world? Why don't THEY just stop the bullying and move on to something else? Why don't THEY stop coming up with these discriminatory ballot initiatives? Why is it my responsibility to "get over it"?

Fuck that shit! I am just getting under it. I am just setting my shoulders into the yoke I have lived with for my whole life. I am planting my feet and tensing my muscles. I will throw this yoke off my shoulders once and for all. And I don't need any one's permission to do it!