The Other Side of Lawrence

Nearly assimilated into mainstream culture, gays have lost sight of their revolution


| February 19, 2004


Like most in the gay community, Adam Lovingood of IntheFray initially applauded Lawrence v. Texas -- the Supreme Court's landmark decision on June 26, 2003 -- that overturned Bowers v. Hardwick, in light of the court's concern for personal privacy. But, as Lovingood discusses, little has been said about how this monumental victory will affect gays in the long run. While admitting that 'assimilation is the primary goal of gay liberation', he worries that the comfort level they've attained will effectively sterilize the movement as gays move in droves toward the political right.

'Once Bill Clinton mentioned us in a political speech during his first run for president, the process of 'de-revolution' was complete: The gay community had become a player in mainstream politics,' Lovingood writes. 'Gay conservative writer Bruce Bawer got his place at the table and gays were just happy with any political crumbs that were tossed their way.' Queer voters who supported Republican congressional candidates ballooned from one-quarter to one-third between 1992 and 1998, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, reflecting a decade of decline for AIDS activism and effective groups like Queer Nation. More mainstream and conservative gay groups like Human Right Campaign and the Log Cabin Republicans have taken their place.

Lovingood laments: 'By moving the community to the right, we experienced a further loss of activist fervor and less support for issues like environmentalism, feminism, racial equality, and labor. While coming out is still a revolutionary act, for many it is the only one they will ever commit.' Is this downgrading of the revolution only natural given that gay Americans have already won most of their fights for assimilation? Maybe, but Lovingood reminds us, 'internationally the queer rights movement is just beginning. After all, gays and lesbians in many countries are still subject to the death penalty for merely existing.'
-- Jacob Wheeler

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