I went ahead and read this piece. I wanted to know the extent to which this was clickbait because, SURELY— nope. He's actually serious.
Let's talk about... whatever the hell this is.
I'm going to go ahead and summarize this as I go, because the last thing we need is to give The Atlantic more traffic when my (sarcastic) version of this will clearly be a lot more entertaining and actually worth your time. 🤷🏼♂️
The scene: National LGBTQ Task Force Conference, 2018. Our protagonist, James, finds himself a bit befuddled. As he peruses the topics for the panels, he is aghast to find the topics are such monstrosities as fat acceptance from a queer lens, post-colonialism, and asexuality.
James, a simple white gay man, cannot fathom why a social justice conference would tackle these issues. Struck by their irrelevance to his own privileged existence, he begins to ponder, as many white gay men do: Should I cancel the LGBTQ+ movement if it isn't about me?
Left to wander this conference in utter confusion, he went in search of anything that resembled something he actually cared about. Alas, he could not. That's when it dawned on him: The gays had WON. If a movement wasn't relevant to him, surely that meant the fight was over.
Thus he set out to prove his case: Gays can serve openly in the military! They aren't criminalized any longer! They aren't classified as mentally ill under the DSM! 70% of Americans are in favor of "accepting homosexuality"! GO THE FUCK HOME Y'ALL, PACK IT UP
And yeehaw, exclaims James, "most gay people live in states which protect them from discrimination" — somehow forgetting that 28 states in the country still don't have non-discrimination protections, but who cares, those are the ~flyover states~
With glee, James goes on to recount the numerous conservative-leaning television programs in which queerness was represented, including Roseanne's reboot and a pride-themed WWE entrance. When we've made it to the WWE, you know real equality has been achieved.
"Many young gay people today experience the coming-out process as a formality, and not the wrenching, fraught ordeal it was for gays my age," he says, his brow furrowed in concentration as he is telepathically-connected to the experiences of gay youth everywhere.
While he acknowledges that this isn't the case for the whole country, which seems to contradict the entire thesis (??? ? ??? ?), he insists it doesn't as "trends are undeniably moving in the right direction."
Trends such as LGBTQ+ organizations disbanding, not at all registering that a few organizations disbanding may or may not have anything to do with progress but rather, the woes of any organization like funding, inability to scale or adapt to a changing political climate, etc.
Never mind the fact that the organizations that still exist would probably REALLY APPRECIATE IT if you didn't broadcast that they apparently don't need support but JUST TRUST JAMES OKAY HE'S GOT THIS
James goes on to point out the intensity of the language coming from LGBTQ+ advocates, implying that stakes are higher than ever when in fact, they aren't. "What homophobic backlash?" he questions. "I certainly haven't seen any evidence!"
He goes on to analyze hate crime stats and public polls, forgetting that they also apply to transgender and GNC folks, forgetting that "gay rights" aren't some categorically separate thing from LGBTQ+ rights, preferring to instead let his eyes glaze over as he types away.
"The conflation of transgender issues with the gay rights movement, a recent development . . . accounts for much if not most of the evidence cited as representing regression on gay rights," he explains, pretending trans people weren't at Stonewall and are never gay.
"There's a GAY MAN RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT!" he reminds us, stepping over the bodies of trans women of color as he waves his American flag and enjoys his cis privilege, in which gay rights have NOTHING TO DO WITH TRANS PEOPLE, nope, not here, not ever!
"What if the larger question of gay equality in America is settled as well? On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, what if we’ve arrived, at least in this country, at the end of the struggle for gay rights?" he asks, forgetting Stonewall wasn't just about gay men.
Can you even measure how many LGBQ+ folks have been denied housing or fired, he wonders, forgetting that proving discrimination is a lot harder than gun deaths (which he so aptly compared it to), especially when The Atlantic has a headline that says discrimination isn't a thing.
James goes on to write a revisionist version of LGBTQ+ history, which conveniently ignores the numerous contributions of trans and GNC folks, best suited to his central argument: conservative gays are the beacons of progress, and separatism is best.
"There’s the uncomfortable merger of sorts with the transgender movement," he says, scrunching his nose and praying he doesn't get The Cooties from the transgenderededss
This 35-year-old seasoned veteran of the movement says the "gay movement" has simply become too radical for his taste, engaging in a culture war in which police officers are unfairly excluded from Pride and wars are waged over wedding cakes. PRIORITIES, PEOPLE.
"Try going overseas," he ends on, "where it's REALLY tough." And with that, his muddled, rambling article which can't seem to decide if the movement is too trivial or too radical ends on a hopeful note: "Adversity happens. Get over it."
So the moral of the story, I suppose, is this: Trans people have nothing to do with the LGBQ+ movement nor should they ever, 20 states where discrimination isn't legal is full equality, won't somebody think about the gay police officers, and some progress means full progress.
All it really is is a cherrypicking of progress for privileged gays, while attempting to write transgender people out of the movement and out of history, and inflate selective examples of inflamed media rhetoric to suggest we should throw the entire movement out.
And really, it just betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of what the priorities of the modern queer movement really are, which is quite simple: Not. Privileged. White. Gays. But there I go with the ~strong-arming, exclusionary rhetoric~
Listen, this dude is not much older than me, but I can tell you something: We live in COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WORLDS apparently. As someone who has countless elders as my chosen family, those who DID survive the AIDS crisis are not bellowing about the movement the way this dude is.
So cis gays, let me posit this: If you're upset about trans people being part of the movement? You should've never been a part of it yourself, bc we've been here since the beginning & we'll be there until the end. If you want to jump ship, no need to announce it on The Atlantic.
This article is the "get off my lawn" article of white cis gays, and let me tell you, the reason you feel like the fight is "over" is because you're sitting comfortably. You've got your Grindr and weekend brunch and marriage, enjoy it. But let the rest of us do the damn work.
You can follow @samdylanfinch.
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