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Nips Uncle Toms and Unequal Marriage


Adam Lambert is back in the headlines, party to yet another sexuality-versus-civil-rights firestorm.

America's favoriteIdolwas on a Los Angeles stage on New Year's Eve, making a toast to the New Year with that indelible hetero icon, Pamela Anderson, when suddenly Pamela suffered a wardrobe malfunction that exposed her left nipple to the frenzied crowd. The next morning, progressive leaders across the country perched at their keyboards to set forth stinging rebukes to Anderson for undermining the moral basis of her legal right to marry.

Excuse me? That's ridiculous, you say? Then I have another good one for you ...

Recall if you will Adam Lambert's controversial, sexually charged performance at the American Music Awardsin late November. In the days and weeks that followed, various leaders of the LGBT community sat down at their keyboards to blog the following call to action:

My misguided fellow gays, you must cease to make any suggestion of your sexuality in front of mainstream America; to do so confirms their worst stereotypes of us and will prevent us from ever having the equal right to marry.

Equally ridiculous, you say? I heartily agree. But unlike the Anderson protests, which of course never materialized, exactly this sort of finger-wagging directive emanated from several supposed pillars of our community following the Lambert scandal, criticisms directed not only at Lambert but at all the rest of us as well. And thus have these "leaders" both inspired and earned a new title for our times -- that of Uncle Tom Queer.

From one such self-anointed spokesperson: What is the mainstream most worried about? They think gay life is exactly what you portrayed, Adam Lambert. This is why mainstream America votes against gays. Because of people like you, who use sexuality thoughtlessly in order to advance your own agenda.

If that's not abhorrent enough for you, imagine how such a criticism might have played out in the context of a preceding civil rights struggle. Envision, for example, a town square, somewhere in the Northeast, say, in 1915. A woman addresses a rally of supporters of women's suffrage: My fellow women of America, you really mustn't be such nagging, hormonal bitches to our men or show them anything other than deference and a trim, girlish figure; otherwise we'll never get the equal right to vote.

Now imagine a different town square, this one in the deep South, in 1959. An African-American exhorts a crowd to action at the beginning of a protest march: Blacks of America, be sure to guard judiciously against behaving in any way that's threatening to your white neighbors. Know your place and keep a smile on your face; that's the ticket to equal civil rights.

Attention, all you gay so-called leaders who have visibly and vocally condemned Lambert's performance on political grounds while remaining utterly silent regarding Anderson's: Your actions are far more misbegotten, far more insidious, a far greater betrayal of our movement than any that Lambert is likely to commit in the entirety of his public life. You are not pillars of our community but pillagers of it, for your obscenely ill-informed protestations are damaging not only politically to the movement you profess to support, but also psychologically to those LGBT Americans who make up both that movement and your community of peers.

Have Carrie Prejean or any of the other members of the hetero-sex-tape social club or any of their fellow straights, for that matter, forgone their right to matrimony? They have not. Are the rights of Pamela Anderson or Janet Jackson to marry whomever they love threatened as a result of their "thoughtless" public displays of sexuality? Hell no.

The reality confirmed both by Anderson's indiscretion and by the absence of outcry that's followed it is undeniable: Rights that come with strings attached that do not apply to everyone are not equal rights and never will be. Preceding civil rights struggles have conclusively demonstrated that, both as a community and as a movement, we are far better off without being subjected to such, not rights, but wrongs; yet here are you, feverishly sewing on those strings like coked-up seamstresses for the status quo.

Still, as horrific is the political damage you do, it is far, far exceeded by the psychological destruction you leave in your wake. Ask any mental health professional who's worked therapeutically with our community: The unspoken social pressure on LGBT people to be exemplary, in order to atone for our sexual differences so threatening to what poll after poll has demonstrated to be nothing more than a plurality of this society at best, is one of the most odious, destructive, and easily internalized consequences of growing up gay.

This pressure on all of us to be "best little boys and girls" from the cradle to the grave is well known. It is one of the most powerful forces behind the high rates of suicide, addiction, homelessness, depression, and anxiety among this population for whom you claim to speak. And because it prevents far too many of our brothers and sisters from coming to terms with their authentic selves, it not only strengthens but largely creates the closet that, as Harvey Milk rightly asserted, is the enemy of every one of us. Yet here are you, alleged supporters of our community, not only defending the pressure on us to be exemplary far beyond what is required of straights, but increasing it; not only failing to protect us from those who strive to shoot us down, not even merely providing them with ammunition, but actually picking up one of their primary weapons and popping off a few rounds yourself.

You quislings: If you insist on continuing to live in such abject ignorance of both the historical metaphors for and the political and psychological significance of the issues that face our community, then please stick to writing travelogues.

I hear the cotton plantations are lovely this time of year.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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