God bless the Tibbetts family

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It is easy in this day and age to fall prey to the baser compulsions of nationalism and parochialism. Especially for folks from majoritarian communities in a demographically fluid country. In America, for the most part, baser nationalist instincts often find a home with insecure, fearful white communities.

It can be particularly tempting to consolidate this fearfulness when faced with the bottomless anger and sadness that comes with the loss of a young loved one. I know this feeling well.

It is a testament to the Tibbetts family that not only have they valiantly resisted such baser instincts but have come out swinging against xenophobia and racism. I don’t know anyone with a heart who could read the  column written by Rob Tibbetts in the Des Moines Register and not be brought to tears. This is a dad I hope to emulate.

As a father to an angel of a daughter, a father who lives every day in mortal fear of something bad happening to her, I cannot fathom this pain. To stride beyond it and extend one’s arms to the Latino community that faces backlash over the tragic death of his daughter is a testament to the gorgeous humanity in the Tibbetts family.

I ain’t a believer in any patriarchal religion, but as a proud immigrant and in honor of this amazing, beautiful group of humans who have made the choice to face their tragedy in the bravest, most honorable way possible, I say this…

God bless the Tibbetts family.

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Liberating myself from racist animal slurs by invoking the pure souls of the animals themselves

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The caged bird sings with a fearful trill

  • Sriram Ananth (sriram.writing@gmail.com)

I have been called more animal slurs than I can remember ever since I moved to North America a dozen years ago. Generally those slurs include variations of primates, and sometimes even canines. Greetings like “sand monkey”, “Indian dog”, even “Paki cur” (or it might have been “Paki cunt” in which case I have been ascribing a touch more linguistic depth to the humans who choose to use these monikers than I need to). Also “big ape”, “ugly gorilla”, “fucking chimp” and more. Occasionally, other animals will be invoked. This one time in Toronto’s gay village I was called a “hot and spicy bear” if I’m remembering correctly, and another time in Boston I was called “the great Indian bull” (these last two slurs I think were meant to be exotic compliments by heavily deluded, older white men who were of the belief that their gayness excused them from a basic sense of humanity.)

This is, of course, in addition to the usual smatterings of other non-animal slurs. I often project an ambiguous ethnicity on the streets, so a fairly broad gamut of slurs periodically come my way.

Now, I don’t wish to project this as a daily occurrence, or even a very frequent one, depending on your definition of an acceptable frequency for folks to face this. (I’m one of those saps who thinks once is too many, but to each their own.)

Of course, barring loved ones and genuine friends, a lot of people who don’t face these kinds of slurs tend to be surprised that “this shit still happens?” when I tell them about these experiences.

Be that as it may, over the last many years, I’ve lost count how many times I’ve been called some slur or the other in various parts of the US and Canada. After the first fifty or so times, one just blurs it out.

Now, I have found some awesome ways to liberate myself from the clearly dehumanizing intent of all those microaggressions. I’ve already written about how, ultimately, those who oppress or benefit from said oppression are the ones who are dehumanized, and not the ones the oppressive attacks are directed at. So I won’t belabor that point.

But what about also invoking the awe-inspiring pure souls of the animals themselves to liberate ourselves from the ugly manner in which they are twisted into dehumanizing slurs?

It worked wonders for me.

Equally importantly, it led me on a path of slowly destroying my anthropocentrism. It showed me that there was just as much love and liberation, if not more, that one could find with non-human souls as one could with human ones.

(Frankly, I’m seriously thinking of going the other direction and considering misanthropy as a solid life philosophy to incorporate – or maybe just misandry, considering women and trans folk are the only saving grace for humanity. But I think it might be best to keep the therapeutic rage for a later time.)

So let’s talk a bit about liberating ourselves by invoking the amazingly pure souls of the animals, who are unfortunately being dragged into this racism and colonialism nonsense for no fault of theirs.

But I’m not going to do it by addressing the slurs hurled at me in America and Canada. It’s easy to do that. Plus there are many eager liberals who will queue up to condemn those slurs and I don’t really feel like making myself angry right now.

Instead, what I would like to talk about is a body-image slur I faced when I was a kid, because that’s where this healing technique really began for me. Without realizing it, I used this very technique to liberate myself from the constant teasing around my pudginess when I was a kid. And when I recount that episode, it becomes easy to do it as an adult, which I hope you can as well should you ever need this technique.

In this case, i.e. my generously layered pre-teenage years, the animal used to tease me was the awe-inspiring, soul-liberating, elephant – one of my spirit animals. So, I’m going to first talk a bit about how that took place. Because it helped me many, many years later when the monkey/dog slurs were hurled at me.

Ok here goes.

So, I was a pudgy kid.

That much you have gathered.

And I got teased a lot. Don’t worry, I’m not going to dump all of my awkward insecurities on you with this article (that’s what I have my cats for). But I will have to recount some of those ego-busting moments, so try to not shuffle your feet too much.

Among the usual monikers, was your basic, never-going-out-of-style “fatty” in a variety of languages. The linguistic medium and environment of my childhood was a gorgeous mix of English, Tamil, Kannada, Hindi, Urdu, and Malayalam across friends and family, with the odd bit of Telugu and Bengali thrown in for good measure (usually in the form of crude jokes we would make of our friends who spoke those languages – yo, we all did it to each other).

Needless to say, the number of ways in which you can be teased also gets that rich linguistic and cultural diversity. From being compared to a variety of large, bulbous fruits native to the respective regions that my tormentors hailed from, to just being made fun of via a particular cultural or even religious trope, I heard it all.

When you come from a land that has every religion on the planet, including one that boasts over 3000 gods, chances are that there are some fairly plump ones too, such as Ganesh, the elephant god of goodness, knowledge, and other such desirable life entities.

Growing up, I hated his guts.

Because each god in Hinduism has umpteen different monikers and stories which – in Ganesh’s case – meant umpteen different ways of teasing us fat kids.

However, the one ubiquitous mode of teasing us across linguistic and cultural differences was to be compared to the (ahem, in reality, heavily muscled but admittedly good-personality-possessing) elephant.

We were in India after all.

The elephant.

What an amazing being with such a beautiful, liberated soul.

I realized that when, as a pudgy kid, I was on this trip to Guruvayoor, a small Hindu pilgrimage town, famous for the massive temple honoring the lord Guruvayurappan, a Tamil and Malalayalam moniker – and thus a naturally more tongue-tying one – for Vishnu, one of the dudes in the Hindu holy trinity.

(But one of the meh, not-so-cool, ones. Not like the awesome bad ass – Shiva.)

So there I was in Guruvayoor, placing various gods on a hierarchy of coolness, for this annual pilgrimage that my parents really liked taking. We always drove from Bangalore. I loved those trips because we all got to drive through Kerala, one of the gorgeous coastal states of the land and consisting about 60% of my roots, primarily on my mother’s side (tongue-twisters all).

When I became 18 and somehow connived to get a driver’s license (despite the testing officer’s eyeballs nearly popping out of his socket and chastising me for driving so rashly), I got to hone my driving skills under the patient tutelage of my father during the many road trips we took – the one to Guruvayoor always being among the most picturesque.

It was in Guruvayoor that I first met, soul to soul, an elephant. I was about 10 years old and it was the briefest of meetings, just long enough for a picture to be taken.

She was a kid elephant that the mahout (elephant man) told me was slightly younger than me in terms of our respective stages of childhood.

She looked at me and I looked at her. I felt her tough hide, with hair that stuck out like the sharp bristles of a brush. I felt her majestic breathing. She turned her face slightly, and grunted softly in friendship. Her trunk lightly enveloped my hips, not holding it tightly, but what felt more like a friendly, loving arm around my torso, except from a limb that could have crushed me with ease. Even as a child, she still had a raw power that I could barely contain my awe of.

But the tingle that went up my spine wasn’t due to her physical strength.

Like I said.

Soul to soul.

It was then that I realized a very simple truth that liberated me from the supposed slur of being compared to an elephant.

This being had a soul far purer than any of my tormentors.

Oh hell yeah.

I dug being compared to an elephant.

Or a dog for that matter. Or a monkey, a cat, a bear, a crow, a bull, or any other animal soul out there that we humans dare to invoke with our hateful misogyny, our racist bile, and our colonial entitlement.

Because if there are still people who think animal slurs can be used to hurt women, or people of color, or trans folk, or indigenous people – those hate-mongers should know this very simple truth:

Invoking the pure souls of animals liberates us and defeats the hatred.

In fact, I just realized something else…

We’re also happier as a result.

Purrr…

What if the refugees were white?

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It’s a struggle but that’s why we exist

  • Sriram Ananth (sriram.writing@gmail.com)

I suppose a fair number of liberals in Europe and North America were moved to a brief tear or two upon seeing that three year old Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi, washed up on the beach after drowning while escaping persecution. The divine feminine protects him now, from the violence, the virulence, the voyeurism.

After his picture came out, and because humanity needs to compete with pop culture memes these days, the social media feeds were awash with performed, public indignation. White folk especially were positively giddy with empathy for that brief second as they peered into their smart phones before the barista called their name out for their morning latte.

Their false empathy is useless of course because the non-sentiment fails to understand two very important points. Two points that encapsulate what this is all about.

Point number one – a little known fact for all you folks out there about refugees and which countries take in the most:

The overwhelming majority of the world’s refugees are hosted by some of poorest countries in the world.

Over 85% actually if you’re interested in these weird things called facts. Nope, the biggest hosts of refugees are not the shiny, wealthy democracies of the west, but the Jordans, Ethiopias, Lebanons, and Pakistans of the world. Not that those are stellar nation-states with great human rights records, but I’m not talking about governments here. I’m merely stating a very real fact that across the globe the poor are the ones who are hosting other poor people running away from violence.

Those are the stats, year after year, from the UNHCR – conveniently ignored by the people of the Western nations. Not surprising considering moral entitlement and manifest destiny are two sides of the same coin. Westerners, in Europe, North America, and anywhere else in the world – wherever we may find ourselves on the spectrum of empathy (or astounding lack thereof) when it comes to the ongoing humanitarian crisis with our Syrian kith and kin – we must be clear on a very important truth:

The countries of the West don’t do shit.

But they certainly act like they do.

(And there’s a long history of that behavior.)

These are the same colonial countries who benefit, yes benefit, from the ongoing sectarian violence in the Middle East. The Middle East burns because the Western world constantly shoots it’s veins up with black goop coming out of the sands.

(Anyone else notice that the price of gas in Western countries always tends to be a fair bit lower than the rest of the world? Also, all those shiny streets and spanking economies? Yeah, that comes from centuries of colonialism that also result in fallouts like large influxes of refugees.)

So not only does the West do precious little while pretending to do a lot, it actually owes those running away from the persecution and violence created by the geopolitical structures of Western imperialism. It owes them big.

But the majority of the West doesn’t want to share in their ill-gotten gains. Privileged communities rarely do.

Which brings me to my second point.

Just ask yourself this very simple question.

What if the refugees were white?

I don’t need to hear the answer. I know it already. In fact I’m just going to go ahead and make my second point without waiting for the eventual disappointment that your answer (no matter what it is) will bring.

Cos, make no mistake, my friend:

Refugees across the world are treated like human garbage for one very simple reason – they are not white.

Now let me see you shed a fucking tear for that.

Healing from an America obsessed with Donald Trump

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michelle alexander quote

  • Sriram Ananth (sriram.writing@gmail.com)

Try as one might, it is next to impossible to ignore the US presidential primaries. It’s the shit show that keeps on giving. Most of us seem to be laughing in order to distract ourselves from our fears of a rather petrifying future. In a GOP primary that has taken on new levels of misogyny, racism, and xenophobia, the rhetoric is nothing short of chilling and batshit insane at the same time.

But despite the horrifying guano being showered on us all, candidates like Trump are not what disturb me the most. It’s easy to get disturbed by a sorry excuse for a human being like Donald Trump. It’s easy to get disturbed by a sorry excuse for humanity like the Republican Party (not to mention the equally pathetic Democrats, who seem to be nothing more than a whinier, less entertaining, version of their right-wing cousins).

In fact getting disturbed and grossed out by Trump currently happens to be the most entertaining thing in the mainstream media for pundits across the board, both liberal and conservative. (Indeed, the name “pundit” – derived from the ancient priestly class of the abhorrent caste system in India – seems really apt considering the mainstream media is a rather accurate representation of America’s very own racialized caste system.)

What is truly frightening is that Trump is only saying what a really large section of the American population wants to hear – a much larger section than a lot of naive, fresh-faced liberals would like to believe or acknowledge. Trump is not speaking to some extreme fringe, though he is very much appealing to it (as a rather nice article in The New Yorker pointed out). Trump is very much a populist, which means he is popular, which means he cannot be popular without large sections of America salivating over his odiousness. The extreme fringe is actually all around us, and Trump is speaking their language.

So make no mistake – Trump is America, even if he fails to get the nomination. For there is little chance of Trump getting the GOP ticket, despite all the craziness of the last many weeks. No doubt, greater miracles have happened, but it’s still highly unlikely.

However, even if he eventually crashes out, the people who salivate over him aren’t going anywhere. Sure, they’ll thumb their noses and vote for Bush or Christie or Cruz or Rubio or whichever wannabe-murderer-in-chief gets the ticket (all of whom have made equally horrendous statements by the way, while floundering to stay in the limelight hogged by The Man With The Do). But the disgruntled masses of America’s broad right are getting angrier and angrier at a rapidly browning and diversifying country. And while I’m of the firm belief that these chauvinists are certainly not in the majority (though only just so), I am one of those people who considers them extremely dangerous simply because of their large and increasing numbers. Yes, increasing. In no small part due to the mindless whipping up of bigoted anger and fear that demonizes racial equality, migrant justice, and gender liberation (in a country that has more wealth than any other, mind you). The worst part is that this trend doesn’t look like ebbing any time soon

And there are plenty of reasons for it.

In general, privileged communities don’t share well, and right now a lot of marginalized people in America – women, racial minorities, immigrants, queer and trans folk – are fighting hard for their inalienable rights as full human beings, despite state and corporate efforts to suppress them.

So there’s a long struggle ahead, and a lot more chauvinism and violence to come from the more privileged sections of American society as historically oppressed and marginalized communities keep fighting that good fight for justice and true equality.

But my lovelies – we’re going to have to heal from all that hatred and abuse as we do so, no?

Those of us who believe in the liberation of humanity and the earth over the close-minded insularity of nationalism, patriarchy, and religion have to ensure we privilege healing as we enter some dark decades to come.

So, let’s get started – below are a few thoughts on how we might do so, using the current presidential primaries as a case study. First of all:

  • Don’t buy into the mass bullshit (aka the mainstream media): The mainstream media truly is a whole load of mass bullshit for the vast majority of the population. It has to be when all the media houses are controlled by a handful of rich, powerful, white men. Sure, they have their Benetton-ad-type, sufficiently diverse (and conventionally good looking) talking heads, but make no mistake: the mainstream media in America, including the so-called “liberal” channels, are catering to the existing power-ridden status quo. Ditch that shit, or if you do end up being a news junkie like I am, figure out how to consume that crap with a critical eye that can catch the bullshit and read between the lines. It is this same mainstream media that gets sickeningly titillated by human filth like Trump and the rest of the gang. You will be a whole lot better treating the filth and the voyeuristic talking heads with the disdain they deserve. Simultaneously…
  • Remember, there be many who hate, but there also be many who love (and they be a whole lot more): Those who hate will ultimately never outnumber and never defeat those who love. I don’t say this out of any sappy sentimentality. Really (despite the sap I have liberally doused some of my other articles with). On the contrary, it’s cold, hard logic that guides this particular thought. It’s really simple. To truly survive and thrive as a species, which equally means living in communion with the earth and non-human souls, our only shot is to trust in love in its broadest and most universalizing sense. We either live together or we die alone. Most of us know this. It’s hardwired into our DNA. It’s how we survived as a species many millenia back. We survived with love, community care, and solidarity, not hateful insularity. And those of us who believe in love and community ultimately far outnumber those who don’t. Don’t buy into the bullshit that power, authority, and domination ensure survival. They only ensure power, authority, and domination – and only for a temporary amount of time; a few centuries at best. Eventually the shiny, wealthy societies of the Western world are going to crumble into the dust and at that time, the choice will become much clearer for those who feel it is their right to consume and appropriate at the cost of the majority of the world (and then get angry when marginalized communities fight for greater equality and refuse to accept the scraps that fall from the tables of the privileged few). Don’t wait for the state and corporate elites to get their act together. They’re never going to get there. Also don’t wait for the hate-mongering assholes who support them. It’ll be too late if we wait for them. So it’s best to start without them and hope they join us eventually. Which is why it’s crucial to…
  • Seek community with others who are also fighting the good fight (and focus on caring for each other): This is so crucial, so very crucial. My friends, there be dark times ahead and it doesn’t matter who wins this election. America, and the West in general, is hurtling towards some major clashes with the more marginalized populations (inside and outside national borders) fighting for their rights as full human beings. And as we fight this good fight, we must remember that we need each other now more than ever. Let’s seek each other out and actually start caring for each other. I had written about this in a previous article that examined healing while fighting the good fight to be free. There are a lot of people in various struggles for freedom, both in their personal lives and in larger mass movements. And we ignore each other’s pain and suffering at our own peril. Indeed, I am of the opinion that it’s even more important that we actually care for each other and build solidarity with each other rather than just focus on public campaigns or activism. I’ve been in so many organizing meetings where people who fight for all these great causes of justice and liberation don’t give a shit about their own comrades sitting across the table from them or standing next to them at a picket line. (Men tend to do this far more often and regularly than women and trans folk, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone). It’s depressing to see, and I think most so-called progressives have it ass-backwards. Let’s fight for each other first before we fight the power. When we fight with love and solidarity, power doesn’t stand a fucking chance in hell. Therefore it naturally stands to reason that you should…
  • Never, ever place any leader, authority figure, or politician on a pedestal (even if they are of a similar political hue): Please don’t do this. And if you have been doing this, stop right now. I know how easy it can be to get sucked into thinking about the next great hope. But there’s no such thing. It’s all bells and whistles. The rates of black people being incarcerated or immigrants being deported has remained depressingly static under Obama, if not higher. The Obama regime deported more immigrants than Bush, while incarcerated as many if not more black men and women. It doesn’t surprise me in the least. When you place any leader, authority figure, or politician on a pedestal, all you do is two things – (1) inadvertently dehumanize yourself as somehow less worthy than some talking-points politician who is nothing more than a puppet of predatory capital and (2) eventually feel rather stupid as the reality of the bullshit settles in. Why bother? Fight the good fight alongside your loved ones, your friends, your comrades. They are the people who matter. They are the next great hope; and not some power-hungry authority figure who truly doesn’t give a mangy rat’s ass about you. In that spirit, please also…
  • Remember that the most liberating changes in society happen organically through people like you and me: This is the other side of the coin to refraining from deifying political leaders. Truly liberatory change has only ever happened through “ordinary” faceless people. The civil rights movement came before MLK or Malcolm X, stayed long after they were assassinated, morphing into different forms, and was the real reason for the victories. No doubt MLK and X were exceptional human beings and awe-inspiring martyrs for the cause, but they would have been nothing more than unknown ministers with exceptional oratorical skills had it not been for the unknown masses braving bullets and bombs for their collective freedom. Black liberation struggles have existed ever since the earliest times of slavery. We tend to think of great changes in society as emerging from one leader or one moment. In reality those are, for the most part, iconic cultural moments that inspire but do little else. Because real, grassroots change for the better evolves and emerges over time through masses of faceless people like you and me doing our little bits in struggle and solidarity with others like you and me. So, in that spirit, let me conclude by saying that…
  • Most important of all – never let the forces of oppression defeat you: The Trumps of the world and their murderous minions can never defeat us if we refuse to accept their authority and power in our hearts and souls. Please note that I’m not suggesting that this will prevent us from getting hurt, violated, even killed by the forces of oppression. What I am suggesting that is that we will not allow ourselves to be dehumanized by those attempting to dehumanize us if we simply refuse to be defeated by them no matter what they throw at us. Really, just try it out. Look deep within you and tell yourself that you will not be defeated by the forces of oppression. Do it as many times as you need in order to believe it. Once you believe, and I mean truly believe, that the forces of oppression might tear your body, heart and mind apart, but can never defeat you, it becomes a very powerful tool to fight that good fight while importantly healing in the process.

Fight for love, fight for liberation, and laugh like you know it.

Them bigoted jokers got nothing on you my friend.

Mozilla Firefox CEO resignation and the white, middle-class queer community America has chosen to accept

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https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/81/Same_Sex_Marriage-02.jpg

A couple of weeks back, the CEO of Mozilla Firefox, Brendan Eich, stepped down over his 2008 support for a California initiative attempting to ban same-sex marriage. As someone who identifies as bisexual and queer (while admittedly benefiting from heteronormativity seeing as I have a partner who happens to be a woman) I was quite happy to see this. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for free speech, in fact believe in it quite steadfastly and will defend even the most vile bigot’s right to free speech. Mr. Eich has every right to say and support whatever he wants. But that doesn’t mean that he can support initiatives that are clearly discriminatory and not expect backlash when basic human rights are trampled upon by such initiatives. Furthermore, the reason why this particular incident is a little heartwarming is because of the umbrage it caused within Mozilla Firefox, apart from creative forms of protest, like the one launched by the dating website OKCupid which had a message to people who visited the site using Firefox that went something like, “Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples…OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.” The message also suggests that users access the site with alternate browsers (the CEOS of which were apparently more careful and refrained from taking publicly homophobic stances).

This is not some random event, but part of a generational shift. A Washington News/ABC News poll in March 2014 found nearly 60% of Americans across the board supporting same-sex marriage, while around the same time a Pew Research Poll found that 61% of Republican-leaning voters in the 18-29 age group felt the same way, while for Democrats the numbers range from 75-90%. The Eich story, supported by these poll numbers, is yet another example of the slowly-but-surely growing acceptance, at times even celebration, of a particular segment of the LGBTQ+ community by white America, middle-class America, and capitalist America (and to that we can add Canada as well). Yes, white, middle-class, capitalist, and for the most part, almost singularly focused on same-sex marriage, and particularly skewed towards an acceptance of white, middle-class gay men. That’s the framework of acceptance towards the LGBTQ+ community. It has come to the point where it’s not profitable anymore to take bigoted stances against same-sex marriage.

As it should be.

But for many others it’s a different story. Transphobia is scarily accepted by society across the board. And the segment of the LGBTQ+ community that has been accepted by mainstream society is just as capable of displaying the same racist and xenophobic tendencies of the society it has won hard fought integration into. The socioeconomic numbers for LGBTQ+ people of color in general, and the trans community in particular, are nothing short of abysmal whether it be in meeting their basic needs like getting a job and finding housing, or being able to go a day without getting harassed. Rates of suicide, poverty, hate crimes, and health continue to remain at dangerous levels.

Support for same-sex marriage, which is currently in the majority in both the US and Canada, has decidedly not translated into any immediate benefits to the trans community, which continues to battle vile forms of transphobia across multiple levels of society. I wonder when we will see trans people in positions of importance and power such as CEOs and movie producers. I wonder when we will see the kind of collectively angry backlash against various forms of transphobia, akin to what we witness when public figures oppose same-sex marriage. I wonder when we will see trans folk and LGBTQ+ people of color in gorgeous movies like Brokeback Mountain, or crappy sitcoms like Will and Grace.

(Seriously, think about all the queer characters portrayed in mainstream hit movies and television over the last couple of decades. How many of them are not white, middle-class, gay men? And even among the existing characters of women, trans folk, and people of color, how many of them go beyond crass, obscene stereotypes? This utter lack of good, complex, healthy representations of LGBTQ+ people of color has made me realize why Omar Little, the gay, black gangster who robs drug-dealers and lives by an all-important humanist code on The Wire is one of my all-time favorite TV characters. He is a scintillating exception to a very bigoted norm that has LGBTQ+ characters portrayed for no other reason other than demeaning, low-brow humor.)

And what of the immigrant community, both documented and undocumented? This is not a random aside, but something deeply personal. I mentioned a few lines earlier that, as a queer man, I was happy to see the kind of clout generated by a particular segment of the LGBTQ+ community. As an immigrant, I dream of the day when such a collectively angry response is generated if some random CEO were to support legislation like the proto-fascist SB 1070 in Arizona or HB 56 in Alabama, where anyone who looks like an immigrant (which evidently protects white immigrants I guess) can be arrested by law enforcement. I hope that there will come a time when mainstream society (including the white, middle-class gay community) can look beyond national borders and insular chest-thumping to accept and fight for those who might not have the same documents affording settler privileges that they do. I sometimes wonder if there will come a point when the majority of people in our society will realize just how much they owe the undocumented immigrant community for the gargantuan economic load they carry in exchange for xenophobic legislation and bigoted attacks. I wait in tumescent anticipation for the day that the term “illegal”, that vile slur I refer to as the “I-word”, is seen with the same lens of righteously offended sensibilities as the term “fag” is. Sadly, I fear we have a long way to go still when I see polls like a recent Rasmussen one showing a whopping 60% or more people in America feeling like their government is too soft in deporting undocumented immigrants.

I often conduct a weirdly self-involved exercise when examining some of these polls, especially ones that I feel impact me in a particularly acute way (not surprising considering that I have this rather self-involved weekly blog). I speculate about these polls from the standpoint of acceptance that I might have within my extended American family, as a result of my afore mentioned life partnership with my soul mate, Susanne. It is a family that I have often felt very welcomed and loved by, and to be sure, they have opened their arms to me with much affection. But I sometimes step out of the personal and speculate on our extended family – aunts, uncles, cousins, etc – as an “average” American family and wonder what those polls might say about them, leaving aside their own personal feelings for me and just going by the strict numbers shown in the stats. I am heartened to know that the polls say I am likely to have a majority of family members that would have supported either my or her right to marry a member of the same sex. However, simultaneously I am fearful that if I were to somehow lose my immigration status and become undocumented, the polls say I am likely to have a majority of family members support my deportation, or at least feel like the US government is not doing enough to deport the undocumented me.

It is a sobering thought to say the least.

So yes, it is a moment of small celebration when the CEO of one of the largest IT companies in the world is forced to resign, no doubt with a sizeable severance package, for his opposition to same-sex marriage. Just know that there are many other communities at whom he could have directed his bigotry against, and safely continued in his job without nary a whiff of condemnation from mainstream society.

Links to references:

BBC News. (April 4, 2014). Mozilla boss Brendan Eich resigns after gay marriage storm: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-26868536

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_opinion_of_same-sex_marriage_in_the_United_States

https://www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/discrimination-against-transgender-people

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/immigration/december_2013/60_think_u_s_not_aggressive_enough_in_deporting_illegal_immigrants

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/news/2011/12/15/10759/the-publics-view-of-immigration/