Monday, April 04, 2011

The Importance of Coalition-Building, Part II

I've written before on the importance of coalition-building, of building bridges between the LGBT community and other minority groups (including, but not limited to, racial minorities, women, religious minorities, the disabled, etc.). 

We must do this out of necessity: the LGBT community makes up less than 10% of our country's population, so if we want to have a strong presence in our politcal system, we need to band together with other minorities. 

We must also do this because it is the right thing to do: if we expect other groups to support our rights, we must support theirs as well; people of minority status share in a common experience - that of being tyrannized by the majority - and it is up to all of us to ensure that no matter who you are, you are treated equally under the law and with respect by society.

This year's protests in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and elsewhere present us with a good example of how we can maintain good relations with other groups.  I know that there are many LGBT people - including myself - who support labor unions' right to collective bargaining, and there are many LGBT people who were in Madison to protest the unjust bill Gov. Scott Walker (R) recently signed into law.  It is encouraging to see LGBT people standing with the teachers, firefighters, police officers, and others who are being threatened by the state Republicans.

And just a few weeks ago, the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, which represents over 250 local labor unions, endorsed marriage equality in Rhode Island.  Such a large organization, which represents so many people, is sure to have a powerful voice, and that voice is on our side.  Again, it is encouraging to see labor standing with LGBT people in their pursuit of equality.

The LGBT community must find its commonalities with other minorities, other groups who are suppressed, and stand together in solidarity with one another's causes.  In doing so, we will make our own movement stronger than ever.

I was actually just interviewing Mara Keisling, director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, for a school project, and she discussed the importance of building good relationships not only between the LGBT community and others, but also within the LGBT community.  Many gay people think that transgender people are slowing us down or hindering our movement in some way, and as she said, that is just wrong.  Both of our groups are very small, and there is still a lot of ignorance about both of us.  By standing together and bridging the gaps between us, we make ourselves and each other stronger.

This is something to think about as we move forward as a movement and as a people.  Finding common ground with other minorities is an essential strategy for moving our own causes forward.

As an aside, this marks my 200th post here at the new Justifiable Anger.  I hope those of you who read my work enjoy doing so and get something out of it.  When I first started bloging back in 2005, I never thought it would turn into something like this, or that I would get as much of a readership as I do - so thank you to everyone who makes this work rewarding.

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