Pride, consumerism, & the sale of a civil rights movement

While possibly the exception, and certainly not necessarily the rule, some of us at least are now “out” at work with few or no real consequences to our job security. Others now ascend the corporate ladder with relative ease, and own exclusive vacation homes in the Florida Keys, Panama, or Tuscany to “get away from it all.” We gentrify older urban neighborhoods, and spruce up city landscapes with the newest decorative trends.

However, are we actually contributing to the ever-widening income gap that has overtaken our country? And what about the folks and entire communities we dislocate as we gentrify entire neighborhoods?

More often than not, these gentrifiers include white gay, lesbian, and bisexual men and women who conform fairly closely to traditional conceptualizations of gender expression, as cisgender.  Lesbians and bisexual women, as women within an overriding sexist society, however, statistically earn less than their male counterparts, and individuals who present along the transgender spectrum continue to find less freedom of expression, and, therefore, far less job security.

While upward mobility stands as a somewhat laudable goal, I believe that if we are going to achieve a truly equitable society, we must reach higher, wider, and broader. As important as economic security may be, I hope we do not envision this as the final resting place over the rainbow.

If the relatively few of us who attain this security, after having been seduced by promises of achieving some degree of credibility and respectability, I fear we will have become part of the very problems that so many of us have fought so tirelessly to eradicate.

Metaphorically, oppression operates like a wheel with many spokes. If we work to dismantle only one or a few specific spokes, the wheel will continue to roll over people. Let us, then, also work on dismantling all the many spokes to conquering all the many forms of oppression in all their many forms.

Until and unless we can join in coalition with other groups, I consider that the possibility for achieving a genuine sense of community and a genuine sense of equity will be unattainable. I believe also that sexual and relational attractions and gender identities and expressions alone are not sufficient to connect a community, and by extension, a movement for progressive social change.

We must, therefore, look beyond ourselves and base a community and a movement not simply on social identities, but also on shared ideals and values among individuals from disparate social identities, with like minds, political philosophies, and strategies for achieving their objectives.

Let us revel in our past victories, for we have fought tirelessly for them. But let us not dwell there because we have further to go to ensure a truly just and equitable society and world.

In the final analysis, whenever anyone is diminished, we are all demeaned, when anyone or any group remains institutionally and socially marginalized, excluded, or disenfranchised from primary rights, benefits, and resources, the possibility for authentic community cannot be realized unless and until we become involved, to challenge, to question, and to act in truly transformational ways.

I hope, therefore, that we can reignite the revolutionary and transformational flame of what was Stonewall.

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