Queer I Stand
Where Do We Go From Here?
Bayard Rustin—an important African-American political activist, a gay man, and a Sanctus of the Ekklesía Antínoou—was involved in the Civil Rights movement alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In fact, it was Rustin's admiration for Gandhi that in turn influenced the Rev. Dr. MLK Jr. to take Gandhi as an inspiration for non-violent resistance. Unfortunately, it was Rustin's homosexuality that caused the esteemed King to distance himself from Rustin, and thus make him less prominent a name than MLK and many other individuals in modern mainstream understandings of the Civil Rights movement. In a speech in 1986, just a year before his death, Rustin said:
Today, blacks are no longer the litmus paper or the barometer of social change. Blacks are in every segment of society and there are laws that help to protect them from racial discrimination. The new "n***ers" are gays. . . . It is in this sense that gay people are the new barometer for social change. . . . The question of social change should be framed with the most vulnerable group in mind: gay people.
Now, it almost seems like the reverse is true once again: if gay people were the new African-Americans in the late '80s, then it seems that within two days of late June of this year, African-Americans and other racial and economic minorities (who, in the 2012 elections, faced severe inhibitions to their own rights to vote) became the new gays, or at least the "old" version of the gays, which is the same as the old version of African-Americans . . . or, something like that. For me, this makes the apparent advances in gay rights seem almost petty and trivial in the face of such a great injustice that is the reversal of one of the great moments when justice at last prevailed for racial minorities in the U.S. nearly fifty years ago.
As much as I am happy that DOMA and Proposition 8 have been nullified, I am not by any means overjoyed at this. I am not generally in favor of marriage as it exists currently, and I'm not sure that I'll ever partake of it, though I certainly want it to be available to anyone who wants it. This has been called a "victory for the LGBT community," and I don't think that can necessarily be said to be the case—not only because that putative "community" is often more a slogan than an actual community (indeed, the amount of anti-trans and anti-bisexual sentiment in the mainstream and fringe gay and lesbian communities would stagger many people), but because the B and the T of that acronym aren't necessarily better off now than they might have been before.
No matter how nice it might be to have a legal option open to some of us that wasn't always open before, it's still a legal option that will not benefit everyone automatically. There are many people who will still be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and other varieties of queer but who will not ever enter into marriage in their relationships. However, almost every LGBTQ person will have to deal with getting a job, finding a place to live, and being served in restaurants or getting rooms in hotels or riding on buses and other such matters of public accommodation. There are still a majority of states in the U.S. which do not have laws on the books protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, housing, or public accommodation. The same is true, despite the implied protections of the First Amendment, for Pagans in the U.S.
P. Sufenas Virius Lupus is a metagender and a founding member of the Ekklesía Antínoou (a queer, Graeco-Roman-Egyptian syncretist reconstructionist polytheist religious group dedicated to Antinous, the deified lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and other related gods and divine figures). E is a contributing member of Neos Alexandria and a Celtic Reconstructionist pagan in the filidecht and gentlidecht traditions. Follow Lupus' work on the Aedicula Antinoi blog.