Whatever Happened to Inclusion?
I don’t know about you, but this year’s pride-making headlines left me in a bit of shock. It was not so long ago, we were us against them—and while no one is saying each of us had equal issues, the position was us against them in theory, if not always action.
And then came this year.
A year in which Germany passed same sex marriage, the Prime Minister of Canada led the Toronto Gay Pride Parade, and here, oh yeah, the President of the United States managed not to recognize Pride Month…even once.
A year in which there are currently over 100 Anti-LGBTQ bills already introduced throughout the United States. This includes the notorious First Amendment Defense Act, to prevent the government from taking action against businesses that discriminate against LGBT people based on their “religious belief or moral conviction” that marriage is defined as a union solely between one man and one woman. A bill our current president says he will sign should it reach his desk.
And if you think the bill’s ability to get to his desk is limited, just this past month, the Texas Supreme Court said that, while same-sex marriage is legal, the “reach and ramifications” of the rights of gay couples have yet to be determined. And while I’m not exactly sure what that means, I am positive it does not mean gay marriage is no different than anyone else’s marriage.
And for the record, this decision was unanimous.
And yet, instead of finding a way to come together to protect ourselves, and each other, we seem to be finding a way to fracture.
Dykes on Bikes tossed women from what they defined as their “more inclusive” Chicago parade because the “star on their flags,” more commonly known as the Jewish Star of David, upset other women in attendance. (Just a quick primer, the Star of David is one of Judaism’s basic symbols. It is no different than the Christian Cross or the Muslim Crescent.)
Following a backlash, the organizers doubled down, defending themselves with a statement claiming they were not anti-Semitic, but anti-Zionist and supported a free Palestine.
And, as that debate would need its own column, let’s just say this statement is, by itself, an interesting attempt at deflection. These were not Israeli Flags but Pride Flags…emblazoned with a Jewish symbol…which is, who knew, enough to be scary, bad, and evil. Wow.
Ironically, this feels precisely like what happens when people blame all Muslims for the action of one group of Muslims.
Except in this case, it’s all okay because the organizers reassured us, saying they were welcoming of all and embrace diversity. Unless, as evidenced, you are carrying a flag with a Jewish star on it. To state the obvious, if one of Judaism’s classic symbols makes you feel “threatened,” perhaps the problem lies with you, not the symbol.
And just so we are fully getting this irony, this parade is purportedly an alternative to the larger Gay Pride Parade in Chicago because that parade isn’t inclusive enough.
Perhaps all the women involved should take a minute to sit back and screen Yun Suh’s award-winning City of Borders, a small documentary made in what was the only gay bar in Jerusalem. This small haven where both Jews and Palestinians realize they are in this as one—because the only rung lower than their national identity, and their religious identity, is their sexual identity.
In Jerusalem, being a homosexual is the tie that binds.
And as opposed to the Dykes on Bikes of Chicago exclusion, there were many other instances of voices clamoring from the parade ground edges, demanding to be heard, demanding inclusion.
In Philadelphia there was a brouhaha regarding a flag with additional stripes. In both Chicago and Toronto there were groups refusing to participate in the parade because there were police officers working the parade. A group called No Justice No Pride blocked the Washington, DC parade route.
And this is sadly a look at what happens when a group feels it has broken through to the mainstream. We are post gay marriage, so here, so queer, and look at us now. We have TV shows and celebrities, soccer mommies and play-dough daddies, and are so busy mainstreaming that we let go of each other’s hands, take our eyes off the ball, and leave swaths of our community behind. Now we must take a step back and honestly assess where we are.
We are not assimilated.
We are not woven into the fabric.
We are perched on a precipice and without all of us together, we will fall.
We must regroup and remember we are an us. And us has many different voices, needs, wants, and desires. This isn’t impossible. The women’s march did it. They acknowledged there are many to be honestly heard and shared their platform to make room for each other.
And, more importantly, Stonewall did it. The drag queens, the leather boys, the transvestites, and transsexuals linked arms and went bravely into the fray to launch a movement to give us the possible.
They deserve to know it wasn’t wasted.
It is time for us to link arms and keep the possible alive and thriving.
Otherwise the only banner left to fly will be the one that screams “Record breaking year for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.”
Stefani Deoul is the author of the YA mystery novel On a LARP from Bywater Books. Contact Stefani.