“This is the real activism!” said one of the campaigners who made sure that the Serbian gay pride was able to go ahead, despite the fact that the court had forbidden it. But is it really? Is there such a thing as “real activism”, and if so, should we really differentiate it from “non-real activism”? And is this so-called “real activism” truly that effective, or is it just an attempt to be nostalgic about previous activist movements that ended up being successful?
Activism is a complicated thing, and opinions on it vary widely. In the end, when it comes to gay rights activism, all has the same goal (to create equal rights and to give LGBTs a truly equal position in society), but still the methods range all the way from holding a banner and shouting slurs to doing scientific research to masturbating in public places, a combination of methods you wouldn’t see just anywhere.
To answer the question whether such “real activism” is actually effective, let’s have a look at that last example. A US punk band went over to the Westboro Baptist Church, after which the female bass player was filmed masturbating on the lawn as if they were shooting a porn film, all in an attempt to stand up against the homophobia and the hate that the church is spreading. Seems like a noble goal, except with very, very disturbing methods.
See, the question is, what exactly has this punk band achieved with their action? Will they actually convince even a single homophobe that LGBTs do deserve to be equal and that they are not immoral? I’m afraid the answer is a very definite no. In fact, if anything, actions like these only alienate people away from the cause and will only further convince religious people, who happen to make up the majority of homophobes, that homosexuals are indeed immoral and that they clearly do deserve to go to hell. After all… masturbating in public places… I haven’t read the Bible yet, but I’m pretty sure that’s a sin…
The same goes for things like a gay pride (although of course to a much lesser extent). The question we should ask ourselves is what exactly the effect of the activism will be. It’s not merely about getting attention, but also about convincing people to do and think the right thing. Organising a gay pride against the law in a country where homophobia is still very much prevalent might not be as effective as certain other methods.
Of course, many will say that it doesn’t matter and that it is about expressing your freedom, but as much as that might be true, it doesn’t take away the fact that people should be convinced that LGBT rights should be universal. How this is done doesn’t matter, just as long as you consciously keep in mind that your activism has to have some point to it.
After all, and this is something many people seem to forget, gay rights activists have the better arguments. We are right to think that being gay is just fine and we are right to think that homophobia is irrational, so why would we not use that? Why would we prefer the “real activism” if we can also use our reason to actually convince people of our point of view?
The only reason I can think of is “because it’s more exciting”, but that’s not a good reason. The goal is to create a society in which the LGBT community is truly equal, and although in many cases that might be achieved by “the real activism” and by organising gay prides, there are certain limits to what is effective. Sometimes, as is the case with what this punk band did, activism becomes incredibly counter-productive, and examples such as those can linger in people’s minds for years, causing them to oppose gay rights for actual rational reasons. And that’s bad, because we are supposed to be the ones with the rational reasons, not the homophobes.
Don’t forget to rate/share/like this post, and if you have any thoughts of your own, please do leave them in the comments! And if you’re new here? Feel free to like the Facebook page for regular updates, or try having a look at the list of most popular posts!
More on this topic from Dean Richards: