19 November 2008 ~ 0 Comments

Revisiting the Letter from Birmingham Jail and a Report on Join the Impact San Francisco 11/15

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I have already written about how tolerance discourse has been twisted by the media and proponents of H8 to characterize us as militants, unlawful, undemocratic, fascist and even terrorists.

To every person that is pro-gay marriage but bewildered and unsupportive of the uprising among LGBT people and allies, this paragraph by Dr. King is quite apt and to the point:

First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

Forget the moderate who wants to wait for laws to change. I am disappointed with the ‘liberal’ that believes in equal rights but votes to ban ‘gay marriage.‘ I am disgusted with the undocumented students around America who call for an end to discrimination against immigrants but post ‘Yes on H8’ videos. I am annoyed at so-called gay icons acting like ‘Uncle Toms’ of the gay community telling us not to ask for ‘marriage rights.’

Stop telling the LGBT community to ‘wait’ for change; stop telling us to not demand our civil rights. Playing ‘Mr. Nice Gay’ and ‘waiting’ has gotten us to this juncture where discrimination has been shamefully written into the California Constitution. As Dr. King wrote in the Letter from Birmingham Jail:

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!”… This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

Now is not the time to ‘wait and watch.’

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As I stood taking snaps from alongside the podium this past weekend, I couldn’t help but feel excited and enthusiastic staring out at the sea of people who had turned up to support civil rights, people of every color, caste, creed, gender, sexual orientation, people who believed in and wanted equality. It felt like the start of something new mixed with a strange sense of deja vu carried over from reading about so many other civil rights movement especially the Stonewall riots. I realized then that I had only read about ‘other’ CIVIL RIGHTS movements but never had the experience of being in one, (the DREAM / pro-migrant movement aside that is often not cast in the civil rights language that I believe it is entitled to and should adopt).

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Silently, I thanked the proponents of H8 for giving me this opportunity, giving our community the opportunity to come together in larger numbers than ever before, to discuss the re-birth of a human rights campaign that lay dormant for far too long. This is just the beginning.

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