Dustin Kight

Conservatives Spend More Time Talking About Our Identities Than We Do

Filed By Dustin Kight | February 23, 2008 12:09 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, The Movement
Tags: Alliance Defense Fund, LGBTQ, queer, queer identity, questioning, sexuality

So the headline might be a bit of an overstatement, but bear with me.

I recently got "pinged" for a post I'd written for the Family Equality Council Blog. That post is called, "It's STILL Elementary," referring to the recently released documentary of the same name. The ping (or, for the less blog savvy, the notification that someone had directly linked to my post on another website) came from the Alliance Defense Fund -- you know, one of the nastiest, most well-funded radical right organizations out there.

Why, you ask, did my post get pinged?

It appears that the folks (aka fiends) at the ADF felt it necessary to put out an "Alliance Alert" on the addition of the Q to LGBT. Mind you, my post had very little to do with the substance of Q, but used the acronym LGBTQ a number of times.

For us at the Family Equality Council, the Q stands for queer. We decided to add the Q in recognition of a couple of things: (1) Put plainly, it's the term of the next generation, and (2) it can be read as a more inclusive, umbrella-type term, though hardly everyone in our community sees it that way, and we often engage in difficult discussions with members and other folks about it.

Q, as many of you know, can also mean "questioning," often in the context of youth who are figuring out their sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions. In retrospect, I was a "queer youth" long before I was a gay one. My same-sex attractions flickered on and off for a couple of years before I fully recognized and embraced them, and then applied the term to myself that seemed most appropriate to an exclusively same-sex attracted male -- that term being "gay."

But if I'm talking to someone who can juggle more than one identity for a person at a time, I would identify myself as sexually gay and politically queer, going back to that whole notion of queer as an umbrella term, recognizing (for me, at least) the shared divergences from heterosexism that queer implies and the power of organizing as a community around them.

The Alliance Defense Fund had no desire to discuss the emergence of the Q in this context, of course. They had something far more sensational in mind (if you'll excuse the extended quote):

Enter now the mysterious “Q.” The “Q” stands for “Questioning,” and its new inclusion in the acronym of sexual immorality is quite telling, as it makes remarkably clear what we’ve been saying all along, that homosexual behavior is just that-behavior. Do an internet search on LBGTQ, and you’ll see that the “Q” is now standard phraseology at our country’s educational institutions, including: Brown, Arizona State, Colgate, George Mason, Toronto, Wisconsin, Chicago, Hawaii, Manhattan, North Carolina, and Georgetown, just to name a few. See also the Wikipedia definition, where other acronyms like LGBTQQ, LGBTQ2, LGBU, LGBTI, LGBTT, LGBTA, LGBTTTIQQA, FABGLITTER, etc., are fully described. Like Pinocchio’s nose, the acronym grows longer with each added lie.

There's something oddly satisfying in knowing that right wingers spend time crafting such statements -- doing internet research on queer sexualities, encountering and taking note of things like "FABGLITTER" (which is real, by the way, standing for Fetish Allies Bisexual Gay Lesbian Intersexed Transgender Transsexual Engendering Revolution). That's hot.

All bizarre/delightful visions of right wingers writing FABGLITTER on a Post-It Note aside, the downside of this attention to our terms is that they're using the "questioning" iteration of the Q to "prove" their point about sexuality being merely a choice -- a set of behaviors we could do without for the "greater good," but don't, because we're hedonistic, awful people. So they say.

Apparently we can't choose what urges to acknowledge, what feelings to follow, which people to love without that being a negative thing -- unless, of course, we can prove that we absolutely can't help ourselves, and thus why the "don't blame me for who I am I was born this way" argument comes in.

The Right's going to do what the Right's going to do, so I don't claim to be making any suggestions here about how we should approach the Q so that we don't give them more ammo to aim at us. I just thought it was worth pointing out that they're watching, always watching, and that, at the end of the day, I really think they're watching because...

They are all ones of us :)

P.S. The "like Pinocchio's nose..." comment is one of the gayest things I've ever heard!

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It's always about the hardons with them, isn't it?

We just put Q at the end of LGBT for the tagline. We never discussed whether it was queer or questioning. I took it to be queer, myself.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | February 23, 2008 5:53 PM

As an FtM who has fallen in love or been genuinely attracted to...well, men, women, MtFs and FtMs, I embrace the label "queer" and am delighted to see it appended to any endeavor with which I'm involved.

As for the Right, their obsession with us definitely speaks volumes on their own "questioning". Can you imagine what images must inspire their fantasies?

I wish they'd just deal with their queerness and focus on more healthy pursuits than haunting our posts in order to arouse the participants of their philosophical circle jerks.

Michael Bedwell | February 23, 2008 6:19 PM

I don't think your title is an exaggeration at all. But while one could comment on your piece from many angles, I'll just choose this one.

On one side is the collective Antigay Industry. Regardless from whence they derive their motivations [religious/patriarchal/sexist/the hunger for political power, fighting their own demons, etc.], and despite some setbacks like the deaths of Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy, and embarrassments like Ted Haggard and Larry Craig ad infinitum, they continue to be staggeringly successful in generating and spending millions upon millions of dollars to constantly reinforce, reshape, reinvent their ways of attacking us, of perpetuating existing homophobia and breeding new converts while, with exceptions such as Massachusetts and Arizona [for now] and even Indiana [for now], at least stalemating us if not defeating us outright such as the growing number of states that are passing state constitutional marriage equality bans on top of their own exiting versions of DOMA.

On the other side we have, for lack of a better term, the Pro Gay Industry, which includes all primarily LGBT organizations at whatever geographic level and our relatively few non-LGBT identified allies. I say few because I only count those who proactively involve themselves in our battles [e.g., participating in advertising campaigns or filing amicus briefs in our court cases, not those that have simply issued statements of support.

WHY isn't "our side" as constantly proactive in keeping progay messages in the public's eye as the Antigay Industry is in the opposite? Why aren't we, like they, not just reciting the arguments and tactics that have worked in the past but coming up with new ones that work better. In short, why are we always simply on the DEFENSIVE?

For example, Dustin's quote from the Alliance Defense Fund above might now read only like poorly written reaching for more excuses to verbally bash us, but not only does one have to take seriously this attack on the psycho-philosophical tenet that has only begun working for us in recent years, i.e., that sexual/affectional orientation and gender identity are not a choice. but also who the ADF are, and how much success they’ve had promoting another relatively-recent tactic—legally defending antigay attacks in the courts and legislatures and schools and private business under the cover of “religious freedom.”

One can mock the CORNucopia of groups working for our extinction simply by typing four letters in caps. But, at this point in time, by virtue of their gigantic war chest which funds their global, multilanguage print, radio, TV, and video empire ONLY Focus on the Fascist Family, as I like to call them is equal in threat to us as the Alliance Defense Fund, which FOF helped create.

According to People for the American Way [gosh, I wish they’d change that name]:

? The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) is a Christian legal firm established by more than 30 Christian ministries to help defend “family values” and work against the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).
? ADF defines itself by its ability to strategize and coordinate with lawyers all over the United States. Lawyers who sign up for their “Blackstone Legal Institute” are expected to donate 450 pro bono hours over a three year period.
? ADF has coordinated more than 750 lawyers and 125 right-wing organizations, and many conservative ministries on behalf of ADF-defined Christian legal issues.
? ADF claims 25 “victories” before the Supreme Court, including: Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000), which allowed the Boy Scouts to fire a Scout Leader due solely to his sexual orientation; United States v. American Library Association (2003), in which the Court voted to allow the federal government to withhold federal funds if libraries did not comply with the filtering called for by the Children’s Internet Protection Act of 2000; and Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002), upheld Ohio’s school voucher system, which allows for parents to send their children to private or religious schools with taxpayer-funded vouchers.
? ADF has linked more than 125 groups to create a combined effort to fight for their issues. They’ve brought together attorneys and allied legal groups to help develop a national strategy on controversial social issues, for example they worked with others to develop a national strategy to “protect marriage” across the United States after Vermont's decision to legalize civil unions for gays and lesbians.
? In addition to organizing lawyers and ministries, ADF also trains and recruits and provides grants to support legal cases as well as pro-bono assistance.
? ADF also defends the right of Christians to “share the gospel” in workplaces and public schools, claiming that any efforts to curb proselytizing at work and school are anti-Christian.
? ADF has had success in anti-gay cases all over the US, from Alaska to Massachusetts.
? Unique to the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) is their collective of high-power founders, including wealthy right-wing organizations such as Dobson’s Focus on the Family and D. James Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Ministries.
? The ADF embodies the beliefs of its founders, harnessing the efforts of a cadre of right-wing groups with hundreds of millions of dollars at their disposal. All of these groups are influential members of the Right; they are pro-life and anti-gay, and their ultimate goal is to see the law and U.S. government enshrined with conservative Christian principles.
? Two issues common to each of ADF’s founders are their work against the right to abortion, and against the civil rights/liberties of gays and lesbians. They are particularly persistent in attacking attempts by homosexuals to have families, establish domestic partnerships or civil unions, or to be protected from discrimination in employment or housing. End quote.

REGARDLESS of who becomes President and how many times one of them has dropped the G-word, regardless of what opinion polls say about our growing acceptance, regardless of positive gay characters on "Brothers & Sisters" and a seductive transgender character on "Dirty Sexy Money," regardless of more and more instances where throwing the F-bomb is condemned by NONgays—FOF and the ADF are still going to be out there. And if we are ultimately to win the "holy war" they've declared on us, we have to stop using figurative slingshots and muskets while they wield state-of-the-art weapons.

One of the problems is that, when dealing with faith, you are not dealing with rational thought.

Even though science is more and more on our side, showing that there are differences between LGBTQ people and straights, it doesn't matter to the right. They will go on their prejudices and what they believe their bible says.

Who needs the truth, when faith will do?

Hahaha, that's interesting that they care that much.

The Q's been there a lot longer than this past month, and I've always taken it to mean "queer." "Questioning" wouldn't really make all that much sense, now would it, since shouldn't we always be questioning?