I'll be the first to admit that after 8 years of horrendous Bush policies and many more years of seeing our community sacrificed on the altar of politics, I have grown cynical and combative. After so much betrayal, demonization, and denigration forced on LGBT people by political forces, I and many others like me are quick to write off people after they act against the interest of our community and other equality-minded Americans.
But have we been trained to be so defensive that we have become close-minded ourselves? Do we need to find a new way of acting and reacting now that we have a new President, one that may be our ally on some issues and need our prodding on others?
Do we need new thinking for a new President?
Now, make no mistake, I am not saying we need to remain silent or "get over" things that hurt our community like some suggest. Inviting Rick Warren to pray at the inauguration, for example, was wrong and horrendous slap in the face by Obama. The outcry from our community and our allies (and from every person who looked at what Warren stands for and says) was well deserved.
Yet he also is making other moves that deserve our support. Having openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson at the inauguration, including our families in the festivities, speaking openly about repealing DADT, and appointing LGBT people to important positions in government are all acts that deserve our support and encouragement.
If we move to quickly to write Obama off as not caring about our community or some other equally hyperbolic statement, we risk pushing ourselves further outside the discussion.
I know I am used to seeing the actions of Bush, Cheney, Warren, Falwell, or Dobson and writing them off as unreachable. They know what they think about us and will never even entertain a real conversation about equality on any level. But I think that attitude has colored how I reacted to Obama and the Warren choice, or the fact he doesn't have any openly LGBT people in his cabinet.
I saw bad actions and started to write him off as "more of the same."
But perhaps we need to rethink our tactics a bit. Yes, we will hold his feet to the fire on bad decisions or on promises made to us. But we also need to support the good moments and actions. We might need to truly judge Obama and his administration by each action, and react accordingly, not paint them with one broad "traitor" stroke.
We need to fight the issues and not make the person the focus of our anger.
Perhaps we should think of this new era like how we think of our personal relationships. With our enemies or rivals in real life, we do everything we can to gain the upper hand. But with our friends we operate a little differently. We support their good decisions and actions, but are brutally honest when they make mistakes- and work to find ways to make the mistake right.
Yes, it may hurt when our friends do bad things, but at least we can tell it like it is on the subject at hand and work to correct it or make sure it doesn't happen again. We can work on the issue without destroying the relationship.
I'm willing to work on our relationship with Obama. There may be times I get mad and make him sleep on the couch, but eventually, hopefully, we can talk it out.