LGBT Activists Need to Look in America’s Backyard

A word of wisdom to LGBT activists who have been calling out homophobia and transphobia in places like Nigeria, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Jamaica and Russia, I think you have been doing a good job bringing to our attention the crimes in these places. But there is something that concerns me–that is, your constant appeal to the U.S., Canadian, and English governments to intervene in these places and punish them, and educate them about right and wrong.

A victim of homophobia myself, I support your strategy. You are asking the hubs of political, military, and economic power to use their power and make homophobic and transphobic states less powerful in waging phobias upon the powerless.

But let’s be clear on something, which many of you have not made clear in the body and history of your criticisms. What you are also doing is asking one bully to control other bullies.

I think it important to intervene with this note, because a Facebook friend asked me an important question on August 6, a question other Jamaicans have been asking in different ways. “Should LGBTQ individuals REALLY be proudly celebrating Jamaica’s independence?” the friend asked.

The friend asked the question, knowing it was Jamaica’s independence and, perhaps, after observing many LGBT Jamaicans, like myself, have been consistently critical of Jamaica’s homophobia. It is an important question because it puts activists in a position to take their role seriously on how they approach national holidays and national pride, when the notion of national pride varies for various constituencies.

I replied, “Yes, Jamaicans should celebrate their independence, have the same national pride as other countries such as the U.S., which have a history of legislated violence upon people of color, LGBT peoples, drone murders upon foreigners, funding apartheid and crimes of the Israeli government, CIA secret programs that to this day continue to destabilize Latin American countries, and torture chambers.”

What I hope you notice is that I make it clear that the United States is a dangerous place as well, something many LGBT activists are not doing. Of course, they should attack phobias across the world. But I find them outrightly ignorant or dishonest or coward to be constantly demonizing, especially, Third World countries while asking First World peoples to be the moral judges. There is no balance in their approach to and criticism of phobias.

Of course I understand that has to be one of their strategies. In order for political activism to be successful, constituencies have to align with demons to build an army powerful enough to eradicate other devils. During the process, however, there needs to be a show of integrity.

Don’t act as though hate and violence exist only in Africa and the Caribbean, by ignoring to comment about the U.S. leadership (with the support of Europe) in drone terrorism of non-American peoples.

I expect that LGBT activists who also call themselves human rights advocates to occasionally take time and make forceful comments about the human crimes perpetrated by the most powerful elites that they expect to serve as global moral judges.

Of course, I understand LGBT advocates want to stay in their lane and only comment about LGBT subjects. But they cannot make that argument and then support their case by quoting statistics and positions of human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch—U.S. centered organizations that address subjects other than queer advocacy, but whose existence indirectly solidifies American imperialist violence.

Now I’m not saying these organizations haven’t done more good than bad. I’m just saying we have to look at their agendas and the ends they meet in terms of what geographies mostly benefit, and how they attack Third World countries more than First World countries, thus providing cover for places like the U.S. and Canada to wage violence in the shadows of covert-classified operations. As I see it, much of their strategy is really a deployment of national patriotism, not by individuals, but by non-profit organizations.

The point I’m making to LGBT activists is that anything other than a balanced critical strategy further marginalizes Third World countries while the characteristics of other bullies escape scrutiny.  Increasingly it bothers me when I go to LGBT events and people ask, “Where are you from?” and I answer, “I’m from Jamaica” and they roll their eyes and say something like, “That place!” Oh, how I want to say, Look in your own backyards and let’s start comparing notes!

Posted in Gay Voices, Politics Education, Race Matters

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