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Friday, October 31, 2008

Prop 8 - just wrong

We are on the cusp of a great transition. It struck me very deeply yesterday while walking down the street with some skateboarders. Well, they were rolling up and down the street, I was some lady in their way. They were happy, young, and healthy. A young black boy rolling towards me on his skateboard in his own personal high, was not aware of me or a worry in the world. I nearly broke down in tears thinking, "you're life is going to be so much better than your father's life beginning next week."

I want to feel that way for gay and lesbian youths too.

As we take one big step forward with this foot - we can possibly be taking a big step backward with the other foot if the voters in California pass Proposition 8 (which would outlaw same sex couples from marrying). I came across an open letter that Huey Newton (from Black Panther fame) wrote in 1970 to the black community in an attempt to unite the Gay Liberation Front and the Women's Liberation Movement with the Black Power Movement in "a revolutionary fashion." In it he says, "homosexuals might be the most oppressed people in our society." Yep, that's the leader of the Black Panthers claiming homosexuals are more oppressed than blacks in America (and that's saying something!).

Some parts of the letter are hilarious in its backhanded way of finding tolerance for the Women's Movement ("we want to hit the woman or shut her up because we're afraid that she might castrate us, or take the nuts that we might not have to start with"). Even still, the point of Newton's letter was to encourage acceptance of homosexuals in the civil rights movement.

Even though he said that he didn't entirely understand "what made them homosexual," Newton warned against using disparaging language (i.e "faggot"). It was an effort to unite the movements without alienating himself from his own community or making his own sexuality suspect.

His letter ends: "Homosexuals are not enemies of the people."

And here we are, almost 40 years later about to elect our first Black President. Damn, I'm proud and white.

And yet we're still debating about who can love whom and how and what they should do within that love. Damn, I'm straight and ashamed.

I am so curious what Huey Newton would say today if he were alive. I think it might be something along the lines of:
"We are are our own worst enemies."

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