I had a show last night at The Stonewall Inn and got there early to check out the vigil for the Orlando shooting victims. I was blown away by the numbers and by the many different types of people who showed up. I saw gay, lesbian, trans, young, old, professionals, radical faeries, and representatives of every race. And I'm sure there were straight supporters, too. I'm glad so many came out to demonstrate their compassion for those gunned down at Pulse. Because I don't see a lot of compassion in our "community" any more. I'm sorry that it takes a grim tragedy to bind us together, but I was reassured by the fact that we still have the capacity to unite.
Most of what I've heard for years is quarreling. I know there are volunteers who serve our community faithfully and advocacy groups working tirelessly on our behalf, but they aren't sensational click bait or shirtless guys so they get reported on infrequently. Here is some of what our community has been grappling with before the carnage at Pulse nightclub.
LGBT Bernie supporters have been gnashing their teeth at LGBT Hillary supporters and vice versa. (I'm guilty as charged.) And then there are Log Cabin Republican gays who I don't understand, but they're still a part of our community.
The trans community now wants to take the T out of the LGBT because they are a gender identity and LG and B are a sexual orientation. Some older gays who never understood trans people anyway and have thrown the trans people under the bus occasionally have basically said "Go on and leave." Then the more militant trans activists respond with "Die, cisgender scum!"
Some gay men press the use of PrEP to stop AIDS transmission and are accused of working for the pharmaceutical industry. Some question the necessity and safety of these drugs and they're called sex-shaming party poopers.
People of color recently blasted major gay publications for never featuring images of them.
Cries of racism have been directed to online hook-up profiles which declare they are not seeking blacks or asians. I have to marvel at this outrage because my whole life I've seen profiles from people of every color with ads which state they want no fats or femmes. (I'm both.)
Twinks mock older gays as trolls and push them aside in clubs saying "Excuse me, grandpa" to belittle someone who they don't want to screw. Older gays dismiss twinks as the shallow "Yasssss, henny!" crowd who don't know their gay history. And my generation blasts the youth for being thankless to those who fought for the hard-won rights they now blissfully enjoy and the AIDS meds which keep some of them alive.
Some gay clubs still frown on admitting women, drag queens, or sometimes racial minorities.
Many blast gay pride parades as overblown vehicles for Sprint and Red Bull floats on which they hire straight go-go dancers. They claim it seems more like marketing than pride sometimes and proudly announce that they leave town that weekend to shun the parade.
We can't even decide on the name of our community. Is it gay or is it queer now? Is it LGBT? Is it LGBTIQA? Are we now leaving out the two spirits who were in there for a minute? It seem like a community that can't settle on it's own name certainly can't settle on or even hope to achieve it's goals.
I'm not saying that any of these grievances are unimportant. I'm not saying that we shouldn't feel passionate, offended, or outraged about issues which matter to us. We're a large community which has different concerns, viewpoints and goals within it.
All I'm saying is that bullets don't discriminate.
Orlando's horror has shown that despite recent advances like gay marriage, we are still a community under attack. We don't even know all the motives the shooter had yet. But from the "bathroom bill" in North Carolina to the other anti-gay legislation in Indiana, Mississippi, and other hate-states, to Kim Davis's "religious freedom" in Kentucky, to Houston's inability to pass LGBT anti-discrimination laws this year, our rights and even our lives are still not secure. With our enemies showing themselves so plainly, we can face them squarely if we pause the constant bickering amongst us and stand together for a change. That's what we did outside Stonewall last night. There is strength in numbers and I felt the intensity of our power.
I've been one of those jaded queens who has rolled my eyes at that rainbow flag--especially when it's placed above straight businesses near parade routes to declare: "We want your LGBT dollar." But last night, outside the bar where it all began, with the flags and the hugs and the tears and the speeches and the chanting and the drumming, we felt like a community again. You can hashtag #LoveWins all you want, but we do not win if the different segments of our community don't start to love to each other. Or at least try to get along. Last night, the many differences between us which we've been churning over for years seemed miraculously to vanish.
With her glitzy outfits, sky-high wigs and false eyelashes long enough to embarrass Tammy Faye Baker, multi-talented drag artist Lady Bunny would turn heads even if looking glamorous was her only talent. But "she" isn't just another man in a dress: Bunny is a successful comedienne, DJ, actress, and singer/songwriter. Her TV and movie credits include Sex & the City, a judge on three season's of Logo's Drag U, To Wong Foo, and Wigstock: The Movie, a documentary on the outrageous festival of drag and music Bunny created, which has electrified New Yorkers every Labor Day for over 20 years.