Home · Articles · Features · Queer Window · Rogue of the weak
April 25th, 2007 Byron Beck | Queer Window
 

Rogue of the weak

Confessions from the "most unpopular gay guy" in PDX.

     
Tags:
"If things seem to be getting off on the wrong foot, it's advisable not to push."

That's what my horoscope said Friday. At the risk of disregarding the omnipotent oracle that is the daily horoscope, I'm going to keep pushing the "wrong foot" this week that's been stuck firmly up my ass since I called out Basic Rights Oregon and Rep. Tina Kotek (D-Portland) as Rogues last week.

I don't want to rehash that issue. But I do want to respond to the shitstorm I created for labeling them both a "Rogue of the Week."

Now, I'm not apologizing for labeling BRO and Kotek as Rogues. I still think their decision to change the language of HB 2007 from "civil unions" to "domestic partnerships" was not what I signed up for and makes it look like we, as gays, have something to hide.

But I wish I hadn't named them the Rogues because critics—and there are many, judging from the nasty emails/phone calls/Web posts I've gotten (see Mailbox, page 4), including the one threatening to "spill a drink on my chunky ass any time I'm seen in public"—have gotten so hung up on it. The real question that's emerged for me is whether anybody (me included) has the right ever to question the motives of our leaders.

And I have to say, HELL YES it's OK to question a movement I am not only a member of but one that I truly believe in. And that shouldn't make me a traitor to my people.

A little history lesson. In Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963, Pulitzer Prize-winner Taylor Branch writes of the 1957 Civil Rights Act: "When [Roy] Wilkins finally decided to take the bill, and [Martin Luther] King announced later that he agreed, leading Negro newspapers attacked both of them for their moderation. 'How silly can you get?' the Chicago Defender [a 102-year-old black newspaper] asked of King."

And in Branch's follow-up Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65, Malcolm X is quoted as saying of nonviolent protest, "You can't call it results when someone has bitten your babies and your women and your children and you are to sit down and compromise with them...and drink some coffee with some crackers in a cracker restaurant."

Now, why would I ever have the audacity to compare myself to Malcolm X? Because, like it or not, we need to allow people the chance to ask questions and criticize—even though we may disagree. Maybe I'm way off-base and "domestic partnership" is a necessary waypost to full equality, just as the weak 1957 bill paved the way for 1964's earthshaking Civil Rights Act. But if King had to take criticism like that, I think Kotek and BRO can survive being Rogue of the Week. And that shouldn't make me the enemy or Kotek a martyr.

But it has made me extremely unpopular with the people who I have always felt the closest to. For example, on Saturday night, at a new queer bar called Casey's, Just Out editor Marty Davis asked me what it was like to be the "most unpopular gay guy in Portland."

I didn't know how to answer her. The question I now face is how do I move forward when I feel like an outsider in my own community as we fight for full equal rights? I can't answer that yet. But I'm still going to the rallies. I'm still going to support Basic Rights Oregon and Tina Kotek. And I'm still going to ask questions. Just because I'm gay doesn't mean I have to give up that right, too.

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 
 
 

 

comments powered by Disqus
 

Web Design for magazines

Close
Close
Close