Letter to myself: enough moping

November 7, 2008  |  essays

Dear Mr. Sexsmith:

Enough moping already.

In case you haven’t noticed, it is day three and Barack fucking Obama is still the presidential elect. Hello, even his name is radical! None of that Franklin George James John William. We didn’t just imagine that beautiful acceptance speech in our progressive liberal little heads. He’s already started a fantastic website for his Transition Project at www.change.gov and I have never felt so connected before to my government.

Yeah, maybe the expectations are pretty goddamn low after the most unpopular president in modern history. But still, Obama is positioned to be a fantastic leader and creator of change – and, more than that, an inspiration: not only the first black man elected president but also a progressive, liberal, forward-thinking, grassroots-organizing problem-solver who is positioned to help heal the (supposed) divisiveness of the red-state-vs-blue-state divide in this country.

I, like this country and like the rest of the world, am currently crushed out on Obama – and that doesn’t necessarily last, I know. I’m sure eventually we’ll start discovering that he never eats the heel of the loaf of bread or he always leaves his socks in the middle of the floor or he forgets to put the bathmat down, but meanwhile, the honeymoon phase sure is fun, isn’t it?

And maybe, what if, just possibly, the relationship develops into a solid, steady improvement? What if we have common values, common interests, good communication, mutual adoration?

Ah, courtship. I love that feeling of such raw potential.

Speaking of adoration, I am consistently touched whenever I see President-Elect Obama with First Lady-Elect Michelle. (I bet you can’t really use “First Lady-Elect” like that, but I like it.) They adore each other, and it’s beautiful.

What? What’s that? Oh, that little gay marriage thing? Those millions of people who voted that straight marriage is different than gay marriage? That marriage is a “sacred institution” that gays would defile and corrupt?

Or how about the little bee in all of our queer activist bonnets when we realized that voters care about chickens, but not about gay marriage? Or when voters passed 9 out of 10 marijuana initiatives on Tuesday, but gay marriage is still seen as the destruction “the family”?

Yeah, it sucks.

But HELLO, did you think this was going to be easy? Remember what you’re doing here: dismantling the heteronormative nuclear family through both the institutional religion and bias and tradition of the church AND the monolithic ultimate power of the government.

Did you think that was just going to happen overnight?

Did you think the conservative bigots were just going to hand it to us?

Did you think it would be easy?

Hah!

This is not an easy fight. If it was as easy as ONE ELECTION, uh, wouldn’t we have already done it?

And while you’re moaning and groaning about “my rights” this and “civil equality” that, what the fuck are YOU doing for gay rights and the queer movement? Did you actually talk to someone who said they were going to vote YES on Proposition 8 before the election, and engage with them about the specifics of why and how? Did you send emails to all your California cousins and say, “hey, I’m gay, you know I’m gay, don’t vote to take my rights away”? Did you donate to campaigns, did you get out on the streets, did you volunteer for a phone bank?

And what have you done since? Are you active in your GBLT community center? Are you organizing groups and supporting queer youth and elderly and everybody in between? Are you educating yourself about the state of politics in this country and discovering your unique activist skills and putting them into action? Are you coming out to everyone, building yourself into a pillar of strength that will carry this community?

Because that’s what we have to do, you know.

Nobody is going to do this work for us.

I’m kind of glad we’ve had this awakening. My liberal activist progressive queer communities have been all aflutter this week, sputtering, “But but but …” and shaking our heads, depressed, angry.

Hey, I hear you. I feel it too. We were wronged. And this is a reality check as blunt as a two-by-four to the back of the head.

Shake it off. Cry if you need to, let out the grief, go get your freak on with your lovely grrrl or boi of your choice and remember what it’s like to be glittering, brilliant, sexual with another person, no matter what their junk looks like. Gain strength by keeping a girl poised on the tip of your tongue for an hour. Remember your attraction by taking a butch out to dinner and running your toe under her pant cuffs. Go have sex with your husband or wife or girlfriend or partner or boyfriend or lover or mistress or with the first random guy on Craigslist who answers your ad. Remember your beautiful self. Remember the jewel of strength at your core. Remember your friends and lovers and community that will gladly offer their shoulders upon which you can stand.

And stand the fuck up.

And then motivate. DO SOMETHING.

Funnel this depressed, angry, outraged energy into activism.

You know why $15 million dollars came from individual donors within the Mormon Church to pass proposition H8 in California?

Because they’re scared.

Because if gay marriage is legal, they have to rethink their bigotry.

Because we’re getting closer.

Becuase we’re winning.

Because we’re a threat to “tradition” – by which I mean a heteronormative mutually exclusive binary gender system that controls families and perpetuates itself as a system of control, wealth, and power.

It is a classic technique of an ethnic religious system: “Ethnic religion seeks to regulate many civic aspects of a particular tribe or people, and especially to regulate the biological and cultural reproduction of the tribe. It thus stipulates all sorts of rules to do with marriage, family, sex roles, bringing up children, etc.”

This system has been refined and honed and fine-tuned and reworked for hundreds of years. And look – LOOK – at what we’ve (un)done in the last fifty. Look at what we’ve overturned, how we’ve changed – improved! – our way of life without damaging theirs. Look at how many choices we have, how many options, how much access we have to our government.

And this is where I start to get all My-Country-Tis-Of-Thee, because I am a patriot. I believe in the heart that created this country with the idea that ALL ARE CREATED EQUAL, even though the exact wording is “all men* are created equal” and that asterisk meant “who are white and own property.”

But the principles are in place. They really are. We have a government whose original intention was to serve marginalized, underrepresented, unprotected groups. Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. I really do believe we have a government of the people.

And hi, last I checked? I am the people. You are the people. Queers are the people. We can be as involved or not involved as we want to be, and maybe blows like this to our community will encourage us to get even more involved.

We’re bigger than this. We have been honing our activist skills for decades. We have a queer legacy of social change, uprising, activism, protest, and movement that has been one of the most successful social civil rights movements in history. (Yeah, I said it. I really do believe that, it’s part of what makes it so goddamn fun to study. That, and I don’t feel quite as completely alone or isolated or hopeless, which is always a plus.)

We know how to do this. And look at us – we’re taking to the streets. We’ve filed follow-up lawsuits. We’re using whatever power we have to say YOU CAN’T TREAT US LIKE THIS.

This is how change happens. One step forward, two steps back, three steps forward, four steps forward – then – BAM – movement. Progress.

First they ignore you.
Then they laugh at you.
Then they fight you.
Then you win.

- Mahatma Gandhi

Buck the fuck up. Stop whining, get off your ass, and go change the world.

Sincerely,

Sinclair

PS: Be nice. Open up. Engage. There is no us-verses-them. Listen. Unity leads to change.

 

Want more? You’re insatiable.

Receive monthly (at most) newsletters from me, with announcements and workshops and sometimes special not-published-elsewhere smut:


Do you love following Sugarbutch, but don't check this site regularly, or can't check from work because it's too dirty? Easy! Just subscribe below and receive the new Sugarbutch posts directly to your email inbox once a day.

Friends with Benefits


22 Comments


  1. Thank you for the cold water splash after the sauna.

  2. absolutely awesome letter to yourself.

    :)

  3. heart you, Sin! I'm on board with your revolution. let's go get activist-y.

  4. This is an incredible post–it really captures my frustration over the last few days, while also previewing a more optimistic tomorrow. Thanks for sharing it.

    One thing though:

    You know why $15 million dollars came from individual donors within the Mormon Church to pass proposition H8 in California?

    It's my opinion that the Mormon Church expended time and resources in California because the Church leadership wants Mitt Romney to win the California primary in 2012. His loss there on Super Tuesday put the final nail in his campaign and the leadership of the LDS wants to make sure that doesn't happen again.

    [Good point, sounds like a smart theory/opinion. Honestly I'm not as well versed at the political behind-the-scenes (especially not in California). Yet one more thing I love about writing publicly like this - the meaning and content of what I put forth can be commented upon, altered, and added to so easily. Thanks for that. - ss]

  5. bravo, sinclair, bravo. and thank you.

  6. have i told you i love you enough this week (gush, gush)….it's interesting – I was just saying to Mary that having been reading queer blogs all week, today I'm noticing a change – not just what I posted on my own blog and what is here, but everywhere. It's like the first few days were for our grief and anger and WTF just happened – and now we're awake. It's interesting to me how sometimes it takes a great loss to mobilize a group of people in a way they never would have mobilized had things continued on at status quo, or even if there had been advancements. This was a wake up call to everyone who had been talking the talk without walking the walk, and even to those who'd never considered talking. It's exciting, and it feels like the beginning of something thing….heck – at joemygod they are talking about a huge march on Washington DC in the spring…and I think it just might happen.

  7. Honestly, I think overall, gay marriage and other rights are overall in a better position today than they were last week. Yes, it was dealt a huge blow in California, but even so, I think there is hope for the future. Here's why:

    1. Obama. He's not an all out supporter of gay marriage, but he is much friendlier to the idea than the current President. A few years of support from the top should help.

    2. Time is on our side (the slow version). Demographics: the young are friendlier to gay rights than older citizens.

    3. Time is on our side (the fast version). Opinion has been moving in the direction of gay marriage. The longer that some states have gay marriage or civil unions, and society seems to go on just fine, the more people will accept the idea.

    4. Stupid reasons. The initiative was written in a way that encouraged voters to vote for it—as stupid as it sounds, the wording can have a significant effect. Moreover, all it takes is a majority vote (as we just saw). All a reversal will take is a few percentage swing.

  8. I'm with natthedem, I think we all needed this. It's certainly made me feel more optimistic. Well written.

  9. Well done, Sir.

    I am one of those who has been wallowing in her tea (it would have been something much stronger but I'm sick).

    Prop 8 sucked the joy out of Mr. Obama's election. Heck, it sucked the joy out of the even greater certainty of the validity of our own forthcoming Connecticut nuptials.

    I am a bit of a brat who needs to buck the fuck up, indeed.

  10. hey

    We are happy for you about Obama – we were cheerleading him from the sidelines and are looking forward to the positive changes he may bring. At the same time we are sad with you about the wrong propositions against marriage and adoption.

    We just had news of a conservative government landslide in New Zealand and are kind of waiting to hear what it means for all kinds of peoples. It could be really bad, financially, socially, sexually…

    Maybe it needs to be really bad for people to realise "oh, this isn't what I wanted afer all!" I hope I am tough enough to rise to the challenge of living through that tough time.

    Good luck with your tough time. I hope it reaps fairness in the end.

  11. Thank you very much. I needed to read this… what's exciting now is that we have a federal government who doesn't hate us.. we have the opportunity for our own kind of change. we have no excuses for our complacency anymore.

    let's do this thing.

  12. Sinclair, again! Wonderful, and it encapsulates so much of what I've been feeling since the election- elation for so much of the election, and frustration at prop 8. It's awesome to hear a coherent voicing of the question "what now?", and a response.

    Thanks!

  13. Thank you for this letter, love.

    I needed to read this today. And you're so incredibly right. We can do this!

    Thank you!!

  14. Thanks for speaking your voice out loud, Sinclair. I think it's important to remember that we do have a lot of work to do and that's it's going to be dirty work.

    It's strange that the US will embrace marriage on TV, in Vegas, and for game shows -and call it a sacred institution. But letting gays get married-NO!

    I have an amazing magnet on my fridge that says "But Mommy wouldn't Gay Marriages be Happy Marriages?"

    Keep on Keepin' on

  15. Thank you. I needed that.

    Hell every queer in my entire state needs to read this, and so many other blogs I have read in the past week.

    And in a way, we needed prop 8.

    Here in Texas our amendment passed with 75% of the vote back in 05. In one of the largest and most diverse cities in this country… I don't recall seeing even a tiny fraction of the battle I saw over prop 8.

    I can't imagine what it is like to finally gain those rights, only to lose them again so quickly. But Thank You to all those who have been so committed to these recent props. You have energized communities far removed from your own. I have heard more talk and outrage over prop 8 than when our own amendment passed.

    We needed to know that even the golden state is fighting against the same hate. We needed to be kicked out of our complacent little shells.

    Maybe our vote was a landslide and we won't be voting anytime soon. Maybe our supreme court is sooo not helping. But we can at least try and change what we can.

    Maybe next time our 75% can be 65%.

    Thank you!

  16. Thank you, Sinclair. Very well reasoned and written.

    I'm going to forward this to my friends; gay, straight and in between; but especially to one whose anger is turning not to activism but to destruction. She is ranting about bringing on a holy war.

    Please, people, read the ps at the end of this letter. Real change will come from a positive, inclusive, high place not through destructive, angry bitterness.

    And, real change will come. It is coming.

    xoxoxoxox

  17. I loved reading this and I completely agree!

    It is amazing to see how our community is coming together and standing strong. Our numbers are growing each day as our protests become national.

    Community. United…yes this is how we will win.

  18. As a straight, white, Roman Catholic male I shouldn't really support gay marriage but I think the denial of basic rights to anyone is wrong so I am all for it, however it doesn't really impact me so my opinion is irrelevant. On a personal note I don't see how gay marriage could do a better job of devaluing the sanctity of marriage than heterosexual marriages are doing already, I live in the UK where slightly over 50% of marriages end in divorce and where we have publicity seekers like Peaches Geldof and Jodie Marsh, (now a lesbian apparantly), getting married and fully expecting to get divorced within a month or two.

  19. Great post — VERY well said!

    What is your take on (what I believe is the racist discourse of) white lgbtq people (white Femmes and white butches included) that blamed the recent passage of Proposition 8 on African Americans?

    Dan Savage, a gay white man, wrote the article that appears to have *formally* launched this viscious racist attack on African Americans — an attack that did not acknowledge that their are important and numerous allies to lgbtq people in African American communities.

    (I'm sure your readers know that Prop 8 is the amendment to Califorinia state's constitution that REMOVES the (also recently recognized) right to marry from gays and lesbians).

    In your post, when exploring the reasons driving the anti-gay marriage movement, you state: "Because we’re a threat to “'tradition' – by which I mean a heteronormative mutually exclusive binary gender system that controls families and perpetuates itself as a system of control, wealth, and power."

    I agree with ALL of that — but you leave out /instutional racism and white supremacy…

    I'm sure you agree that gay marriage poses a threat to white U.S. American social, political and economic domination as well as white privilege.

    Could you discuss/explore the reasons why the anti-gay movement is dominated by white heterosexuals?

    Why do you think that most white gay men who voted — *did not* vote for Obama? Most white gay men voted for McCain — a man leading a political party (Republicans) that supports heterosexist, sexist and racist policies.

    I'm asking you these questions, Sinclair, in part because I have only *personally* engaged one white queer person (who is also a super hot Femme:) who recognizes/analyzes racist discourse produced by lgbtq people (and racism & white privilege in lgbtq communities in general).

    I know that there are white lgbtq people that share her views — a comment to a previous post indicates that you are one of them. I would like to "take in" your perspective/those perspectives.

    I am also asking you these questions because you have a wide readership — the majority of whom are white folks who identify somewhere along the lgbtq spectrum. I am sure they would benefit from "hearing" your views on gay marriage rights in a context of institutional racism as well.

Trackbacks

  1. Put on a helmet. « Ladies in Waiting
  2. links for 2008-11-08 « natthedem’s domain
  3. What happened in November - Sugarbutch Chronicles
  4. Put on a helmet. « Two Ladies in Waiting
  5. decision day « Heather and Rachel Have Feelings

Leave a Reply