Excuse me for feeling old. I wrote my first Oasis article about four years ago - for the Sept. 99 issue. I was entering my senior year of HS then. Friday I move back to the dorms to enter my senior year of college.
When I first wrote for Oasis, I had been out to myself for about eight months, and out to my friends for two. I was this out and proud lesbian. Four years later, I have a deep voice and stubble.
I think I've learned a bit about the queer community since I first joined it. We have this tendency to attack one another. It's a case of "I'm oppressed and the only people I can have power over are those who are also oppressed." Newsflash - the people who are oppressing us don't give a damn about gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans. All they see are damn faggots, lezzies, confused queers, and men-in-dresses/men-who-cut-off-their-dicks who need to die or at least be kept far far away from them and their impressionable children. The only thing that attacking each other does is further our own self-hatred and divide our community.
Common arguments I've seen:
Lesbians don't like gay men because they are men or the reverse - ummm... sorry, but men aren't the issue here. It's misogyny and sexism that are. The whole man-hating lesbian thing is mostly a myth. Yes, there are lesbians that don't like men, but they are in a very small, very unhappy minority. I have found gay/bi men to be my greatest allies - as a lesbian, and later as a transman. As far as the reverse is concerned, I have only met one gay man who didn't like women. And he was an asshole regardless of his sexuality. If you didn't have a dick, or couldn't connect him somehow to getting some dick, you were pretty worthless to him. There are assholes in every group, and by far I have seen gay men who love lesbians and women as a whole. Just not in an erotic way, obviously. Proof: this week's Queer Eye. So folks, if you are gay/lesbian and have issues with someone who is lesbian/gay, grow up. Your sexism makes you no better of a queer.
Bisexuals are just confused. They should choose one "side" and stick with it. - That's the same shit the hetero's sometimes say to bi folk. And it's just as foolish coming from a queer mouth as a straight one. It's like saying if you're gay you can choose to be straight. And its root is in our own insecurity about our own sexualities. Bisexuals do not betray the queer community when they date a member of the opposite gender - that is who they are attracted to, and they should be respected for it. It takes a lot of guts to be bisexual/pansexual in this society.
Those trans folks should get their own parade. They just make us look like freaks. - I hate to say it, because to me it seems so obvious, but the roots of homophobia and transphobia are the exact same : gender insecurity. Lesbians aren't real women because they don't have sex with men and reproduce that way. Gay men aren't real men because no real man has sex with another man and they're so feminine that they can't be real men anyway. Transsexuals are threatening because they show that gender isn't as obvious and simply divided as we think it is - they aren't real men or women, and never will be. It's just like in "Kindergarten Cop" - folks take the position of "boys have a penis, girls have a vagina" and won't accept that there are different ways to be men and women - like being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans. We face the same oppression. We belong together in the fight.
Let's get the leather folks, the sadomasochists, the dommes and subs, the drag queens out of the parades - sorry. They face many of the same issues that queer people do. It's all about getting squicked with someone's self-presentation or ways of getting pleasure. What usually follows the leather/SM/draq queen list is the Man/Boy love people. That, strangely enough, I can agree on - pedophilia is bad and wrong no matter how you package it. But the leather folks, the S/M and D/s crowds, and the drag queens, belong with us. The way they love or are is seen as wrong, same as the GLBT folks.
I'm going back to school very soon. And I've seen so many divisions in the queer community. Lesbians work hard on AIDS but gay boys don't chip in on breast cancer, Pride groups get to be overwhelmingly gay boy clubs, lesbians won't date bi girls, trans folk just don't feel welcome, whatever. We're all queer. We need to stand together, support one another. Don't leave anyone out - don't be the HRC and the NY state pride groups who dropped gender identity protection to get sexual orientation in, leaving their trans brethren in the dust. Don't be a trans person who doesn't see how GLB issues affect you.
So as I return to the Pride Alliance at UMass, after a year away due to frustration with the queer community, I want to see all of the queer community get along - gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, intersexed, black, white, red, purple, christian, Pagan, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, man, woman, or some other gender(s). Let's start here, at Oasis. Where I have felt welcome and accepted for going on four years now.
That is all. You may go back to your lives now, but take these words to heart - to quote an old disco tune: WE ARE FAMILY!