activism

All posts in the activism category

Rag Tag Army

Published June 27, 2011 by Michael C Leeson

On the 28 June 1969, a rag tag queer army of accidental heroes when confronted by the NYPD during a public morals raid at the Stonewall Inn, in New York City’s Greenwich Village struck back. The Stonewalls’ patrons at that time mostly drag queens, transgender community, effeminate young men, hustlers, and homeless youth, the most marginalised of us from within our community and without. This iconic battle known as the Stonewall Riots touted as the birth of the modern gay rights movement ironically was fought stiletto to billy club but not by the homophile organisations but the undesirables demanding the respect and dignity due them as human beings.

In the 1960s and 1970s a time of grassroot political action dominated by calls for liberation or ‘root and branch’ social reform, saw many confrontations between the people and authorities. Times were a changing fast, earlier movements included the homophile organisations whose aim was social respectability through integration and later through the Gay Liberation Movement we voiced demands for social reform.

Today

As we enter the 2nd decade of the 21st century, we see gay rights organisations inheritors of the homophile perspective campaign for marriage equality, while kids kill themselves because of homophobic bullying. It seems unclear how a trip to town hall will change the norms underpinning this discrimination and persecution experienced within and by our communities.  The question here does marriage equality represent for some the opportunity to reconcile with patriarchal institutions in providing them a sense of social acceptance, while us undesirables still suffer the reality of social sanctions.

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NY 4 Marriage Equality

Published June 25, 2011 by Michael C Leeson

Today, NY Senate passes Marriage Equity Act 33 -29, which enables long overdue recognition of same-sex civil marriages in New York State. I congratulate the many advocates for their commitment in prosecuting this hard fought battle for marriage equality and applaud these politicians for showing some leadership on this matter. On this day, New York leads America in taking another step forward towards full recognition of LGBTIQ Civil and Human rights. However, while buoyed by the Albany outcome the Rainbow Nation may want to take a moment to reflect on the journey from Stonewall to the present success.

Some 42 years ago, a rag tag army of the most marginalised members of the Rainbow Nation stood up to authorities and said through their action enough is enough. These heroes drag queens, transgender community, effeminate young men, hustlers, and homeless youth gave life to the battle for change. This event occurred at a time when the Nation sort change through the Gay Liberation Movement however it seems over time in seeking social respectability, the middle-class have sanitized our fight for change. Today, these marginal groups face the same discrimination from within the nation and wider community It is unclear how things have really changed.

As tomorrow and in 30 days, people will wake and the biases underpinning this discrimination will not have changed while challenged bigotry remains strong.  I do not believe marriage equality is the panacea for the discrimination experienced by people who identify it is but more window dressing in the campaign for social respectability. Admittedly, many would disagree with this view however, as a queer I feel strongly that contemporary activists while well meaning have missed the reason so many have spilt blood in this battle for change and not tolerance.

Drowning in the Shallow End: Third Wave Feminism

Published July 28, 2009 by Michael C Leeson

Drowning in the Shallow End: Third Wave Feminism

by Heather Tirado Gilligan

In the 1990s, a new generation of women heralded the dawn of a new feminist era. But does declaring a “new wave” – particularly one that equates individual lifestyle choices with activism, consumer power with feminism, and diversity with racial equality – make for a feminist social movement?

Heather Tirado Gilligan explores this issue through interviews with feminist scholar Jane Elliott, Colorlines managing editor Daisy Hernandez, lesbian filmmaker Aishah Simmons, and Chicana feminist Cherrie Moraga. Gilligan proposes feminists drop the wave metaphor and organize around the less socially palatable but more pressing goal of addressing inequities.

This article comes to an interesting conclusion in that the author argues

“Our rights, such as they are, were won by the tireless work of earlier generations of feminists, and obligate us to correct the inequality that continues to structure women’s lives, starting right now.”

Unity Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Published July 21, 2009 by Michael C Leeson

DavidMixner.com – Live From Turkey Hollow

Part One “Oh Lord Not Now!”

Part Two: Learning from History

Part Three: Picking Our Issues

Part Four: What Now?

I will let Mixner’s words speak for themselves, the key points here are the themes he explores and question he asks.  The article speaks to what seems to be human nature that ‘we don’t learn from the past’ and for whatever reason generation after generation seeks to reinvent the square wheel. His target the self-appointed and self-styled ‘New Gay Civil Right Movement’ (US) it seems a network of vanilla mainstream Gay/Lesbian civil rights organisations. When reflecting on historical successes of liberation movements he makes the following point

“People with clearly defined values and principles are the best agents of change. Those who are willing to negotiate or compromise beyond those values and principles often find that they merely face more demands for them to compromise again…. Individuals who know ‘the line in the sand’ and refuse to compromise are often instigators of great change.”

It seems Mixner calls for us to draw a ‘line in the sand’, a position based on our principles that we will not make a compromise on. He reflects on the 200-year campaign by African Americans to gain freedom and some sense of qualified equality. He indentifies the work of Dr King, and attempts to draw some connections between African Americans journey and our own. However, we were there too, campaigning for equality and observance of our civil rights it seems that all those oppressed by the cultural elite demanded equality at that time.

If we are serious about a civil rights movement, we need to start answering a range of questions.

Who are we? The Rainbow Nation or Vanilla wafer

What is the underpinning ideology? Socialism or Liberal Democratic individualism

What are our shared or community vision, values and beliefs?

Where do we come from? rural, regional, suburban or cosmopolitan

When do we start addressing these issues? Strategic or ad hoc

How do we unify such a diverse community? Collaborative or elitist

Why do we need to undertake this task? Aims & objectives? Goal?

It’s Time For A National Smooch!

Published July 18, 2009 by Michael C Leeson

It’s Time For A Nationwide Kiss-In! | The New Civil Rights Movement

It seems everything old is new again, I wonder what John would think and somebody may want to ask Yoko. Besides all that, this came about in part due to a couple of lads having a smooch at a take away in the US. The event received the usual bemoaning from the community, look at this injustice, blah blah blah. Then they had a kiss-in in Utah after a second confrontation with the Law. Later the “The New Civil Rights Movement decided to buy in and organise a “National Smooch Day”

on August 15, 2009, at 2:00pm EST (4am 16/08/09 let us make it midday)

The Great Nationwide Kiss-In

Nelson Mandela: A Man

Published July 14, 2009 by Michael C Leeson

Nelson Mandela: a man turned into statues in his own lifetime | World news | guardian.co.uk

Madiba is a man who has faced oppression and through his humanity developed resilience that beams from his every word and action. He is no superhero, but an activist who stood up against his oppressors to gain justice, at great personal risk. It is this quality, his resilience that singles him out in history as a great man of principle, a leader who embraced his humanity and showed respect to others that has given him authority. In our community we have many people through their lived experience have gained that quality of inner strength to bounce back or adapt.

In reality we all have that potential however it takes commitment to both principles and action.  It is in the word and deeds that say to our oppressors, that you can marginalise me, oppress me, deny my culture beat me, imprison me and even kill me but I will not be defeated.  I was here yesterday, I am here today and I will be here tomorrow demanding my rights to be treated as a human being.