Gay rights and solidarity- Part 1: what’s in it for the straights?!

The international day against homophobia and trans-phobia (and bi-phobia and pan-phobia and…) 2012 is right around the corner. It’s also around this time of the year that a lot of us (or at least me) start thinking about the concept of homophobia. I mean…seriously, what the hell is homophobia?! We all know how it works and how  the whole cycle thing goes. But the question that eludes me is why is there this hate thing in the first place?! What do people get from it?!

Well…where did it come from?!

Luckily, I came across what I would call the best conceptualization of homophobia (and probably of any other related type of discrimination) in the book of Sherry Woolf “Sexuality and Socialism“. She, as any well-behaved socialist, links homophobia to the capitalist system and class struggle. Now even if you were not a huge lefty fan, I really suggest that you hear this one out cause it makes a lot of sense. The way she puts it is that because of class struggle, it would be in the benefit of the employer (authority, capital head…) to limit the opposition of the worker (employee, people….). How does one do that?! You simply divide them and let them picker and compete among each other.

Hmm..then homophobia and discrimination is just a bunch of people competing?! 

Yeah sort of but not really. Let’s first jump over the mess of how exactly did homophobia gets instilled in people since a lot of us have an idea about that (thought it’s actually very interesting to take a look at it), and get to the part of how things turns out to be. What we have now is that a straight person in a given building might throw a couple of homophobic swears at his transgender neighbor. So what?! Well it gets very hard for these two to get together and ask their landlord to fix the water system in that building later. Now take that and expand it a little more to basic civil rights. Homophobia, in Woolf’s words, is not sign of power and strength, its “a sign of powerlessness”. An oppressed class is divided by those in power, in this “powerlessness” they compete with each other and build up illusions of power and control. In that sense, this is not true competition because both sides are bound to lose. There is no winning team in this equation.

Got it…what do you think we should do?!

Well, the first step is that we need to realize that homophobia is not a one sided phenomenon. It’s a mutual interaction between two parties who “think” they are on opposite sides. What the LGBTIQ community needs to do now is build its network of straight allies. And I’m not talking about the scarce friends here and there and other joyful supporters (although those folks do rock!!). I’m talking about a bunch of fierce activists who realize that gay rights are not a “gay issue” but rather a civil rights issue that affects the whole of society.

(A pic that I found on the net. GSA clubs at schools in the US are still a major controversy – at least to right conservatives – probably since they have proved in many occasions their ability to mobilize the student body to stand up to unfair and at times bigoted school policies)