Sunday, April 19, 2009

Gay Reparations

Yet another request for reparations.

At least this request for reparations makes slightly more sense than requests by modern Americans for slavery, seeing as how homosexuals alive today have actually experienced the grievance the author of the article wants payment for, even if it is something far less severe than slavery. But hey, if the government starts shelling out reparations for gays, someone should start lobbying for reparations for the descendants of Irish-American immigrants. Or German American immigrants. I could cash in on either on of those. Or reparations for all women! Even more cash for me. My forebears had their feelings REALLY REALLY hurt - I completely deserve at least a few grand.

More importantly, though, it seems somewhat disgusting to try and use hardships suffered by gays as a means of money-grubbing. The author of the article even admits is would probably be impossible to calculate the amount of wages lost due to job discrimination against homosexuals- so why not demand something more important, like equal rights in all public spheres, etc.? The author also states that a monthly check will never be ample compensation for the most severe discrimination suffered by some gays; still, ALL gays should get some money anyways. Oy. I also do not follow the my-neighbor-just-called-me-a-fag-therefore- Uncle-Sam-owes-me-money-for-some- reason logic at all.

1 comment:

Joel said...

I came across your post because I had heard about the same author you cite in your piece and I wanted to refresh my memory on the controversy.

I agree that reparations as a concept is a tricky thing, especially in light of the difficulty in identifying the recipients. Dishonest people are always at the ready. However, I find the conversation interesting because I think it could open discussion about the specific ways LGBT persons are affected negatively by American society. The "Advocate" once ran a controversial cover claiming that Gay was the "New Black." This had many up in arms (especially the anti-gay members of the Afro-Am population). I objected to the comparison not because I think one history is more esteemed than the other, but rather because the ways and methods of oppression against the LGBT population are different. I would even dare to say that it is more insidious.

As a gay man, I can definitely attest to the incredible amount of damage that can be done to a LGBT person, even before that person becomes fully aware of him or herself. Each person's experience is different, but whatever not-so-subtle teaching is offered to that child is ever more emboldened by the educational and governmental systems in this country. That child can learn a number of ways s/he is hated by society and how to destroy him or herself.

This climate of rejection and abuse has real, tangible and quite destructive effects on the LGBT person. It can, and often does, prolong the emotional development of puberty. This form of self-hatred, rather than just hurt feelings, has real effects on the integration of identity and the ability to share that honestly with others. These are very serious psychological concerns and have real, identifiable effects on the social (and therefore, financial) success of that person.

Those objectors to the "Advocate"'s cover often state that no LGBT person was ever systematically oppressed. This is the summary of the "they were never seated in the back of the bus" line. What these people so fatally fail to realize is that while the oppression of Afro-Am people in America is a horrific fixture of our history, no Afro-Am family ever rejected their own children for being black. (And as far as the "not-systematically oppressed" line, well, that is complete bull-shit.)

Do you see the point I am trying to make? The oppression of LGBT person is indeed different because it cuts along so may lines. The overall constant in this equation is that LGBT persons can be rejected from the very support systems that are supposed to present models of human relationships--especially in learning trust.

Now as far as financial consequences of all of this, I can personally attest to how it could be so. Integration for me was, and continues to be, a difficult process. I suffered severe depression and OCD symptoms related to my sexual identity. This consumed a decade of income-earning life where I could have been in school furthering my education. Instead, I could barely hold a job.

So, perhaps your "someone called me a fag" quip may, or may not have been, tongue in cheek. There are scores of people who boil the grievance down to a matter of simple name-calling and work full-time to keep it that way. The longer they keep any serious discussion of how these factors manifest themselves, the more successful they will be in denying rights and removing existing protections.