Thursday, February 19, 2009

War is Over (If You Want It)

Shades of Gray recently wrote a really insightful post about the "GLBT" movment, its adherence to its acronym, and its lack of inclusiveness to bi and trans people, let alone more obscurely-oriented folks. It got me thinking, yet again, about how crucial it is that minorities stick together. Much better to all be queer together than to be separate, adversarial groups. I know that, for example, to be a gay person rejecting trans people in your movement is epically stupid in terms of not only human decency, but overall strategy. If it was just about rights alone (which some would argue), there would be no qualms about actively including queer groups who aren't fighting for their own legislation. Apparently, asexuals have tons of free time to devote to causes, what with all the sex we're not having. However, this idea of inclusion, which to me is intuitive, is Martian to some other folks. I realized today how exactly this idea got drummed into my head.

In the 7th and 8th grades, I attended the world's most grueling middle school. Every class (or year, or grade, for those in other countries) had only 20 kids. This created a perpetual hothouse of drama. There was a group of "popular kids", a group of female outcasts (including myself), and a group of male outcasts. The dominion of the popular kids was maintained by one thing: The fact that both groups of outcasts thought the other group was untouchable. If we girls had collaborated with the male outcasts instead of making fun of them, we would have had the numbers to achieve equality with the popular kids. Combined, we could have had the strength to fight back-- or to just ignore them. My one regret from that time in my life is not trying to make friends with those boys. Looking back, I'm sure they would have been truer friends to me than the girls were in the end. But of course, I didn't realize this until years later. I can only imagine how much better my 7th and 8th grade years would have been, had I known all this at the time.

This is a true story. But it's also an allegory. The stautus quo depends on the infighting of minorities. And queer people who reject other queer people are playing right into the staus quo's hands. They're doing the very thing their oppressors want them to do. I guess their middle school experiences were better than mine, and that must be nice for them. They might have better memories, but I think I got a better lesson. Although I wouldn't wish my experience on any child, I did learn something valuable.

Of course, some queer people want to be the status quo, just like some outcast kids want to be popular. Maybe that's one reason why straight people are usually the only group courted as gay allies. If it's because they're numerous, well, so are all the other miscellaneus queers, when taken as a group. As a kid, I didn't want to be popular-- I just wanted to be myself and be left alone. The idea that even as adults, so many people just want to be popular and well-liked at the expense of others? It makes me feel queasy. But I guess that even by middle school, my destiny in radical queerness was already confirmed. Just like the status-seeking of some of my classmates remains the same to this day. But I still believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that maybe...if they really want it...people can change.

(Also, meetup on March 1st, which is fast approaching! But I'm not quite sure what to do with you guys...)


Anonymous said...

Good post.
This question was recently discussed in this topic on AVENes. I liked your allegory about school social structure. I agree with you that should have fought together. It would have been desirable and useful to befriend with some male pariahs, but I think that this doesn't imply merging the groups. An alliance could have been enough for your purpose. This is my position in the gay/ace discussion. However, the school analogy can't be extended further.

Let's suppose that the structure of your school were 90% popular kids and their follows, 9% outcast boys and 1% outcast girls. In this case, which is pretty similar to ours, no alliance among outcasts would provide a numeric victory. Moreover, outcast boys enjoy the same numeric superiority among outcasts as the mainstream over them. This may lead outcast boys to become a double-faced group despised by the upper class and despising the lower one. Like a slumlord, meek before the bigwig but despotic inside his domain.

As things stand, I think that merging asexual movement with GLBT means to return to invisibility. I think that asexual people have more in common with the LBT-part and other queer minorities outside the tetragram than with the mainstream gay people, invisibility for instance. We could forge alliances with L-groups, B-groups, T-groups, but as an A-group with its own identity.

Kim said...

Ily said...

Isaac, thanks for running with my metaphor. I agree that further invisibility is the last thing we need. However, since we are such a small group, having some allies elsewhere will help us a lot.

I've heard about the Alternatives to Marriage project, but never seen the site, so thanks for the link, Kim. I think it's kind of funny that they're supporting gay marriage, although they do mention that some gay couples wouldn't want to get married even if they could.