Are gay rights supporters protesting in a positive way?

27 Jan

Examining whether or not gay rights supporters are protesting in a positive way is tricky. In some cases protests are well thought out and executed, and in others they just don’t work out. There have been some very successful protests in the last few years and some abysmal failures as well regardless of how organizers spun the result. In part media greatly shapes how we perceive this, but the ultimate answer lies within results.

The protests that surrounded proposition 8 (Prop 8) in California in 2008 for the most part were hastily thrown together. There seemed to be little communication between the major LGBT organizing factions to mobilize the most people possible to show up for protests. Sure it may sound impressive to say several hundred, or even a few thousand people showed up for a protest, but in reality that is nothing. Imagine a protest in which each gay person in a locality showed up with perhaps three or four straight supporters of gay rights as well. Now you are talking about the makings of an effective protest because the numbers and diversity of people present demand it. What most Prop * protests wound up with was a largely LGBT crowd, but few of their straight supporters only because the word never effectively got out in time to mobilize. That wasn’t true in every case, but far too many, some were pulled off with great aplomb.

Then we can look at protests which have become annual events. Day Without A Gay has been a flop. No matter how much they try to spread the word, no matter how much exposure is gained, it is just an idea doomed to failure. The thinking behind this process is that LGBT persons would call out sick from work so employers and society would see what the world was like if no gay people reported for duty. Straight supporters were encouraged to participate as well, just not with much gusto which some fond off-putting. So far this form of protest has flopped. The organizers failed to factor in that many people would view taking that particular day off as being akin to an “outing.” They failed to realize that good economy or not, gay people need to make money too, and that even if inclined to take the day off to join this form of social protest it isn’t always possible. LGBT people are police officers, soldiers. doctors, educators, etc… and those are jobs that have to be performed.

What many fail to remember is that Gay Pride events were not always about overpriced novelty items, musical acts, and a big party in part underwritten by corporate sponsors in larger cities, but a day of remembrance and peaceful protest. That was the whole point of the parade, taking to the streets and being seen so that everyone would remember LGBT are first and foremost people and should have the same rights and privileges afforded to every man and woman regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, or any such thing. For several years this was very effective, but the actual Pride day has become little more than a party. The events often surrounding Pride however have become more educationally focused and in some cases deal with effective protest mobilization. In that regard this was a protest of sorts that evolved over the years, but still retains value.

On a somewhat smaller scale there have been sit-ins, danca-a-thons, kiss-a-thons, and pretty much everything short of a Jerry Lewis telethon to raise money to fund more protests. The question of whether they have been effective however is not really an answer in the yes or no fashion. In many cases the success of such things is tied into the slant of the media market it is being presented to. The same exact protest may be presented as a definitive success in San Francisco, but an abysmal flop in Orange County.

In that type of scenario, the worldwide perception becomes split. On one hand people take the stance that of course in San Francisco any gay rights protest will be viewed as a success (Which is not accurate), and that in Conservative orange County any gay rights protest will be seen as a failure. Who are people to believe if they were not there to see and be a part of the protest itself?

However when looking at whether gay rights supporters are protesting in a positive way on a grander scale, at this time it would have to be said that they are, although there are always notable exceptions. Gay Pride is expanding to a new country almost every year. Gay marriage and recognition of gay couples in a legal sense is now being realized faster than it has at any other time in modern history. There have been no gay rights organizations that have led violent attacks in the name of gay rights as was common in the 1960’s among other groups that protested. Aside from some heated verbal exchanges in the streets or limited pushing matches, for the most part gay rights supporters have been very peaceful.

When all of that is taken into consideration gay rights supporters evidently are protesting in a positive way. Not everyone may like it, not all protests enjoy success, but on the whole they do work. For the most part anything that can be construed as a negative at gay rights protests usually stems from gay rights opponents that choose to be present and stir the put while making their voices heard. That is always going to be a potentially combustible mixture as passions are high on both sides. The question really should be can the peace be maintained, and how much longer will they be necessary?

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