It is 2012, the first day of the New Year, on such a day we become filled with a hope for change in making random resolutions to improve our lot. These statements often seem more fanciful than being realistic in their intent to bring about meaningful change. The obvious question here is why make a pledge that you are not committed to fulfil other than in meeting some social expectation to reduce an unnamed guilt. This may be the resolution we all need to make in 2012 to reduce the guilt we take on board especially around things in life we have no control over concerning other people’s behaviour.
At the Australian Labor Party’s 46th National Conference in Sydney today (03/12/11) they took a step towards full acknowledgement of marriage equality. Before you ask this does not mean the Gillard Government will seek to amend the Marriage Act in the New Year because she does not support marriage equality. Some backbencher will more than likely move a private member’s bill or the Greens will take action to move this issue forward. However, it matter not because according to the Xspurts any such measure will fail because today Gillard gave herself an out clause in securing a conscience vote. In these circumstances government member are not bound to follow the party line but enter a vote according to their personal position. Hence, the adoption of the Barr/Wong Amendment today in changing the party’s platform to support marriage equality is all but meaningless. Now with Gillard busy trying to retain power she has no guts to stand-up and fight for social equality hence she swallows without question the bigotry perpetuated by the right.
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.
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.
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.
I recently had correspondence with @GoodMenProject a magazine site whose stated aim is to start a conversation about what it means to be a good man. The site seems open to feedback from readers however, the content seems mainstream with increasing number of articles relating to minority masculinities. You could call it a work in progress however the name confuses me good men, what does this value-laden label infer to the reader. All I can go on is site content, which reflects a mainly white, middle-class, heterosexual, able-bodied version of manhood.
In my opinion for what it is worth this conversation is long overdue however, I find this goal both exciting and intimidating as others may. My enthusiasm for these types of opportunities is to engage with men in making sense of what it means to be a man. However, what often happens is that a minority hijacks these occasions to promote and perpetuate their political agenda either to reinforce the idealized masculinity or stereotype and/or men’s rights rubbish. These situations are not conducive to a frank conversation, as men learn from birth not to question masculinity even if they spend the rest of their life trying to make sense of it.
This is why men rarely speak with each other about meaningful issues and are more likely to hide behind the stereotype or to engage in combat. Men do not talk to men about men’s business because they should already know the answers to their problems. A number of articles on Good Men demonstrate this with sensitive issues written by women and general articles by men have stereotypical themes like politics, sport and virility. The question here is where this conversation starts with a critique of masculinity, discussion of issues men face in their life, sharing stories of their lived experience to demystify what it means to be a man or something else.
Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”
John F. Kennedy
This is a cautionary tale of conformity by men to the narrative of the idealized masculinity, which requires some to find sanctuary in the closet or shed, As men, we seemingly adhere blindly to this myth as if some article of faith and in turn readily impose it on all. It is the root of all oppression, discrimination and subjugation in society. The previous post concluded by drawing an analogy between the closet representing the oppression of queer men, and the shed of heterosexual men. This post provides some reflections the premise here is that one man’s closet is an others’ shed and sometimes you might find a closet in the shed. While both represent a prison, they also provide a sanctuary through a weird sense of anonymity.
The issue to free men from these sanctuaries or prisons means we have to challenge the need for their very existence. During the 20th century, masculinity faced a crisis its status as a sacred cow downgraded through critical inquiry by its detractors i.e. cultural diversity, women, and queers. The outcome of this inquiry masculinity is found wanting, more bravado than substance that actively seeks to maintain Anglo-European heterosexual able-bodied male individual, collective and institutional privilege. Even in the diverse reality of their lived experience, men and their allies still hold doggedly to the fraudulent idealized model of manhood.
The question here is
Reform or Revolution
Coming out of the Shed the road towards a new way of
Knowing and Doing Manhood?
all who have died from HIV/AIDS
their Families, friends and communities who miss them everyday
On this the