06/19/10-by Bridgette P. LaVictoire
Silence equals capitulation. Silence equals acceptance of oppression. The LGBTIQA Community, to use the entire rundown of affiliations, has an unfortunate history of being far more the Gay Community. It is actually slightly worse than that, it tends to be the White Gay Able-Bodied, Affluent Male Community. To this point, Chastity, better known as C.D., Kirven and Michael Robinson have formed a new group that is something of a breakaway from the increasingly Gay Inc. group GetEQUAL. The group GetEQUAL NOW aims to not only push for equality for the entirety of the Community, but to seek greater inclusion of those less accepted voices within the Community into the leadership.
Kirven has not been afraid to hold up a mirror to the Community in order to make is members uncomfortable and to expose the flaws. She created the first documentary that looked into the issue of domestic violence within the LGBT Community, and wrote the novel What Goes Around Comes Back Around, and is working on a second novel The Glass Closet. She also writes the blog What Goes Around Comes Back Around. The native of Texas told LGR in an email response “I’m not afriad to tackle the dark subjects because ‘real talk’ is the beginning of change.” Silence often means erasing the subject from the minds of the people, and this is a particular subject that needs to be brought up.
Also problematic within the Community is the lack of acceptance with regards to women, racial minorities, the disabled, transfolk, intersexuals, and even queer and questioning folk.
This is where GetEQUAL NOW comes in. According to GEN’s website “Our mission is to empower and support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community by educating and having radically inclusive conversations.” In an email to LGR, Kirven stated “We have been giving workshops on racial injustice in the LGBT community and direct action for the last couple of months educating our community through diversity training.” However, action does not end with seminars and diversity training. “We also plan to have protests against LGBT companies not willing to become more representative of the diversity within it and direct actions if necessary which has never happened before. We may also lead other grassroot organization inwhich we have a partnership to boycott these LGBT companies. I truly believe until all interest are respesented and we all know your perseption is your reality then none of us will have the equality we have been fighting for over 40 years since the Stonewall Riots. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to wait another 41 years for my civil rights,” she went on to say. “Get Equal Now will continue to raise public awareness in terms of gay marriage, LGBT immigration related issues, transgender and transsexual equality and any action required to secure the passage of Employment Non-discrimination legislation that is ‘Trans’ inclusive,” according to their website.
On Queerity, it was noted that the Cedar Springs section of Dallas where Kirven lives “there’s only one lesbian bar and eight gay bars frequented mostly by white men. The gay bars have a black and Latino night once a month, but otherwise a gay person of color has to find a black or Latino bar far off the main strip. Cedar Springs has about five shops for gay men, but none for lesbians.” In the initial meeting for GetEQUAL, which was attended by Kirven, only one person of color was among the leadership, and that was Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend.
One of the most difficult problems facing Kirven and Robinson is the apathy that is common within the Community. With regards to the criticism that Kirven has faced, “It’s like attacking the LGBT communities apathy problem a few have become too accepting of our current civil liberty status believing eventually we will obtain our rights. But for hundreds of LGBTQ people who die because of hate crimes or the elders in our community that have died alone eventually will never come. You will always have your detractors when your actively trying to take steps towards real change but I must take a page out of President Kennedy’s book when the country had grown apathetic and was negative about space exploration. ‘Its not what your community can do for you but it’s what you can do for your community!’ Become the change you seek!”
Kirven has certainly attracted her share of detractors who accuse her of trying to “‘ghettoize’ the mainstream gay rights movement.” However, as she told Queerity “We want the gay rights movement to look a little more like the actual makeup of our community. As long as we have an older, single, gay, white face that’s obsessed with alcohol and sex, the mainstream is never going to embrace us. But when they realize that the queer community is as diverse as America itself, then they’ll begin to understand that we are more like them and that our struggles are their struggles.”
To her critics, Kirven is forceful in pushing back. “Listen up! Here is a wake up call to those who don’t realize why 41 years later we have not even reached the civil rights threashold of our equality struggle because if the hetrosexual community is oppressing you and you are oppressing me you are contributing to the cycle of injustice that will just keep going round and round. I need you for my equality and you need me for your equality. We can’t be invited after the party is over to take a picture that only proves we were there – we have to be apart of the plan. But you are so afraid that I’m going to take something away, you refuse to allow me to be part of the solution and just makes you the problem. Trasgender, transsexuals, people of color, LGBT seniors, lesbians and LGBT youth have been left out of the gay rights movement way too long. Guess whose coming to dinner? We will demand our place the table and because we are the majority if we stand together – justice within our community will mean getting equal now!”
GetEQUAL Now has a lofty goal, but lofty goals often bring the most change. Kirven and Robinson have the goal of setting up up GetEQUAL Now organizations on every college campus across America, forming campaign coalitions with local organizations and national groups like Out Immigration, and using social networking to mobilize them in well-coordinated press events and acts of civil disobedience designed to get attention — something GetEQUAL has been doing since its beginnings.”
GetEQUAL Now is not like GetEQUAL beyond similarities in name and in some of the tactics. It is not predominantly black, but accepting members of all different racial and ethnic backgrounds as well as having a lot of cisgender and transgender members. None of the group’s members are getting paid for what they are doing, but rather this is coming out of their own pockets rather than getting the $100,000+ salaries that many in GetEQUAL and the HRC are receiving.. GEN is also far more grassroots than GetEQUAL has been.
It is refreshing to see a push from within the Community towards equality and diversity. Far too many voices have been outside the mainstream Gay Inc, and that has caused problems when it comes to external perceptions. After the Prop 8 debacle, there was a great deal of hate filled rhetoric regarding the African American voters in California. Never mind that much of that came from white gay men who had done little to reach out and bridge the gaps between the two communities. GetEQUAL Now will go a long way towards ending those problems.
Activism can take many forms. This is something that Kirven states rather nicely. “There are many forms of activism so if you can’t pick up a picket sign then pick up a paint brush because you can fight social injustice through art, music, comedy, writing or filmmaking. Expression is freedom but your voice is the key and no one can unlock it but you!”
06/20/10- Edit for Typo