Monday, August 3, 2009

Love Versus Hate

When one looks at hate crimes such as the Tel Aviv Massacre Saturday night in which fifteen gay people were wounded and three young people killed by a masked and cowardly gunman dressed in black who entered a gay center filled with gay kids and began spraying it with automatic weapons fire and then fled - it is quite easy to reciprocate the feelings of hate. 

When one reads articles about innocent people being discriminated against and murdered simply because of their sexuality or gender, it can be enough to make you hard inside, and angry and bitter. I know, when I read about the cold-blooded murders of Angie Zapata, Tina Brandon, Eudy Simalane and Matthew Sheppard, it is enough to make me want to hate them right back for what they do to us. 

While this is understandable given the circumstances, hate begets hate. If we show hatred to our enemies, we give them ammunition or an excuse to "justify" their hate for us. And it is much easier to simply go on hating people who hate you, isn't it? It provides them with a pretext - "Well, they hate us, don't they?" It almost excuses and justifies it. After all, gay people are already being depicted by their propaganda campaigns as "less human" than they are, "dangerous", "unpredictable" and "threats" to this or that. For a long time gay activists have been portrayed as "militant" - which conjures up images of masked protesters hurling Molotov cocktails at police barricades, doesn't it? Such images seem to me to be little different from the masked "crusader" in Tel Aviv. Hatred is being built up against the pink community in the name of conservatism and religious fundamentalism and various other "isms" using little more substantial than wishful thinking and fairy tales. The ignorant and prejudiced lap it up and thus, hatred is incited and perpetuated. 

While our anger is righteous, and our frustration clear when we protest or even riot, or take on hate speech in the media, and hate crime in society - it can be easy for our enemies to twist this to show how "full of hate" and "militant" they want us to look. It is striking though that at counter-marches at Pride events, bigots and fundamentalists carrying signs which proclaim "God Hates Fags" are not being hateful at all - oh no, they are simply trying to show how much they "love" us by pointing out how wrong and lost we are - but seeing people marching at a Pride event, defending their humanity, now that's just downright awful, isn't it? How dare they love each other when they should be standing beside them, holding hateful placards and protesting against love! 

At an art exhibition a bible is placed open on display, where people who feel they have been "written out of it" are invited to "write themselves back in" by writing their names or messages in it, fundamentalists picket and object claiming "blasphemy" and an "attack" on their faith. 

How can faith be contained in a physical object? How can one object embody an entire religion? Why are people being so touchy? Is their faith so fragile that it can be shattered by such a humanitarian gesture obviously intended to provoke introspective thought? Is God so thin-skinned that he could be offended or harmed by mere human acts? 

It is a BOOK, for crying out loud. 

A bundle of paper, ink and cardboard. Nothing more. Not for nothing is paper made of wood - being useful to bash people over the head with. Ironic that it is far too good to be sullied with the names of the dirty gay people - but not too good to be stained with their blood. 

If they want to be art critics they should rather take on the whack-job "artiste" that destroyed a beautiful piano with a large catapult in the name of art - now THAT was sacrilege. 

The last thing we need to do is compound their hatred and the persecution of the pink community with reports of gangs of gay people going around "straight-bashing" and saying hateful things about straight people - at least indiscriminately. After all, the majority of straight people support gay equality and human rights - or at worst are ignorant and even indifferent. 

When angry about hate crime we need to be specific where we direct this anger and not just lash out at everybody who isn't part of our community. Many straight people care about us too - and are just as offended by the hate directed against us as we are. Many of them get attacked along with us because they support us. As a matter of interest it was mentioned to me that one of the Tel Aviv victims was straight, being at the meeting to support a gay friend when she was slain because it was obviously assumed she was gay. We need to differentiate between the bigots and other straight people - in exactly the same way as we need to differentiate between the Christian fundamentalists who hate and wage war on us - and the rest of Christians who show us love and support. By simply labeling all Christians or all straight people "the enemy" are we not turning our allies against us as well? 

Perhaps just being "angry at their unjust hatred of us" - and highlighting the injustice and blatant evil of their assaults on our humanity is a better way to approach this untie-able knot? 

Some do not find this to be enough. They say we have been "just angry" for centuries and letting these bigots get away with pretty much anything committed against us. Some think "it's about time" we stand together and give them hatred in return for hate. That it's time we do something other than just be diplomatic. While I may disagree on the hate - I do agree on one thing - it is time we stand together, against hate. 

Hate is the fuel of violence - and violence leads to more needless tragedy and death - and dead bigots have not learned anything - not even how wrong they are. Only the living can learn from their mistakes. 

"Diplomacy" includes lots of things, such as protest action, lobbying - and what irritates them most of all - been shown up as wrong and not being taken seriously, made fun of and to look foolish - and their worst fear - us winning the information and education battle - because when people are educated in truth and fact, they lose all their support. Why else do you think they want to silence the civil rights movement? Why else do they want to prevent children from receiving factual education about sexual and gender diversity in schools? They don't need protection from education - they need education to protect them from ignorance and institutionalized bigotry! 

I understand how you feel. I felt it too once. But hatred will destroy us as well. It is acid in the blood, which eats you alive from the inside and which would destroy us as well as them. Who should we hate? Straight people? Or just the straight people who hate us? How will others be able to tell the difference? How will we? 

Just as they don't realize that we are a part of their families, we need to realize that they are a part of our families too. That in the end we will always be a part of each other's lives - it is a fact of our existence. 

In terms of the "War on homosexuality", in case you haven't noticed... we actually seem to be winning. Slowly but surely. Inch by inch, foot by foot. Even with the many tragedies and casualties along the way. I am not suggesting that the pink community should not stand up to hate and homophobia or heterosexism - by all means, fight back -fight them tooth and nail if we have to - be angry when it is appropriate - but hate is something we don't want - why? Because it makes us think and act like them. If we hate them back, they win - we give them their victory - because we will make them right. They hate us - so let them. It's what defines them. Is it what defines us? I don't think so. It doesn't define me. 

We need to remember that we are better than that. We need to remember that this "culture war" they forced upon us is all about love versus hate - their hatred of who we are and our inalienable human right to love and the freedom to do so in the face of their hate - and its power and might. 

Love has a power of its own - but power loves only itself.

Let love be our strength, not hate.


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