Should LGBTQ people automatically get along with each other because they are designated as a minority group that has endured decades of oppression and stigmatization? It was exactly a year ago that I decided to pen an article exploring the LGBTQ acronym and why we remain divided when that will only lead to failures in achieving civil rights. And what do you know, last week a preponderance of negativity arose out of Caitlyn Jenner’s posing for Vanity Fair magazine since her conservative politics are disconnected with the presumed LGBTQ’s population’s liberal politics. But let’s delve a little deeper into the situation because what is dividing us aside from various values and ends is class differences. I said it, it is a fight over class, and let me explain how.
Caitlyn Jenner is a white, able-bodied, wealthy celebrity, former athlete, who has decided at the ripe age of 65 to transition from a male to female. According to the comments that have circulated in social media since earlier last week, Caitlyn was formerly embraced by the LGBTQ population for taking this huge step in her life — but when LGBTQ people shed light on the real Caitlyn regarding her conservative politics, we all changed our opinions to abandon her without reservation. Should we ignore her now that we understand what her predominate political views are, or should we give her a chance to see if those views will change over time as a transgendered person? Of course, we should not forget that Caitlyn has a planned show to air soon, so we have to remember what possibly underlies the agenda here: likely, making money!
Turning the conversation back to class, LGBTQ organizations have only hired leaders who are invested in white, privileged, able-bodied, patriarchal politics. Boards of these organizations are privileged and do not have an interest in those in the lower and middle classes who likely have intersecting minority identities. We have witnessed this struggle since the beginning of the LGBTQ movements, in HIV/AIDS activism, among other social movements that have occurred in American history.
I am a working-class man who came from poverty: thinking about class differences will always be part and parcel with anything I do in life. As such, I have felt, noticed, and experienced firsthand accounts of privileged, white, gay men who are oblivious and disinterested in the values of marginalized groups within the LGBTQ population. When I made attempts to discuss why this ignorance occurs, I have been objectified and silenced. The bigger question is why does class not enter the dialogue when so many of us are not privileged? It has been written about extensively that class is an invisible force within our capitalist economy where the hypothesis is the individual can dictate and control the outcomes through their autonomy and self-determination. This is conservative bullshit politics to keep the disempowered enslaved, reinforcing the myth of making ends meet in a deregulated economy that only privileges the one percent. And with this trend of lasting deregulation is the consequence of the 99 percent being in huge debt and barely surviving.
So, what happens to the multiply marginalized LGBTQ people if they cannot fight for their values to be part of the LGBTQ agenda? Common sense would tell you that their voices go unrecognized and the privileged LGBTQ class continues to dictate the how, what, who, why, when, where. Caitlyn Jenner, although a role model in demonstrating self-acceptance, has used all of her one percent status to get surgery, in order to boost her ego and public image. Tell me who has 100 million dollars net worth like Jenner to transition successfully, when I have met personally a number of poor, working and middle-class transgendered people who have endured psychological turmoil before, during, and after the transition process. The transition has taken years, mainly unsuccessful, some even remain with original plumbing, some with scars from bad cosmetic surgery, and some feeling regret from not having the backing of family, friends, and a career to support them. Can we compare the lives of the former and latter? Once again, class is the divide here.
Let’s remember the class politics with Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass, both wealthy, Jewish, gay men, who own a number of gay venues and properties and deny that they provided presidential campaign funds for conservative Ted Cruz after, including hosting a party at the hotel they own, The Out Hotel. I am not looking to attack them for their contributions even if I contentiously disagree with them for supporting Cruz, but class is the dividing difference here where the values and allegiance of rich, wealthy LGBTQ are with corporation, for-profit, and deregulated environments. Sexuality in this occurrence obviously sits much further down on the hierarchy of needs (maybe does not make it on the list?) and earning more money despite being millionaires is the top priority.
My recommendation, I reiterate as in the past, is for the 99 percent of LGBTQ population to forget settling our differences with the 1 percent; instead, we are the majority voice and need to exercise that right regularly. Our voices, stories, identities, beliefs, and values deserve the front page of news articles, in social media, in interviews, in books — everywhere! I am not asking for revolution to effect change, but for the acknowledgement that class plays a significant role within LGBTQ politics. And with this acknowledgement will develop a public consciousness in the LGBTQ population on how to level the playing field.
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Gay Voices – The Huffington Post