Lately, the gay rights struggle lately seems like a passive affair, despite the very real, hard work of many full-time and volunteer activists. Clinton, the first president to do so, appointed a lot of openly LGBT people. All sodomy statutes were vacated in 2003 by the Supreme Court. And during and after, gay marriage was legalized (domestically and internationally), voided, and sued for incrementally. The era of the big splash brought on by “crowdactivism” has been cybertized, replaced by those who can and do act for themselves and others, and those who can’t.
I am thrilled that the Prop 8 plaintiffs and Edie Windsor, in part through the best legal counsel imaginable, prevailed. But I’m left feeling a little guilty and empty. I don’t have a husband or even a boyfriend, and feel OK about that, and am very proud and happy for my gay friends who have ones to marry. But even as I’ve engaged in a minor amount of activism to move marriage forward, I feel disconnected from it. The brief tussle over Dustin Lance Black’s comments about the Ender’s Game boycott is emblematic of my inner quandry, and the gap that’s opened between the real and cyber worlds.
I agree with with Black per the First Amendment about not boycotting something that isn’t homophobic, despite its original author. But when he sugarcoats the entire industry in the process, implying a homophobic 1%, presumably at the top, is responsible for many evils, I have two reactions. First, he probably knows (and this is not news.) But my other reaction is how why is a gay man essentially hating on another who’s fighting for the other’s cause?
The source of the controversy, published exactly five years ago, expressed hatred not just for LGBT people, but also extreme misogyny, howling nuttily of the coming of change and Obama. And Orson Scott Card’s repeated invocation of California clearly recalls the Mormon Church’s involvement with Prop 8. And if Black just led the destruction of Prop 8, how on earth could he even implicitly leap to the defense of one of its champions?
The artists and producers involved, solid LGBT allies all, have so far successfully drowned out the would-be boycotters, with a great platform, and militaristic adhesion to their message. But any work of art is always going to retain a connection to its creator. Their attempt to gain control of the conversation is entirely self-serving, and any all contractual bludgeons that the producers have used to prompt Card’s white flag, even as he bemoans the passing (in most Western countries) of outright legal LGBT persecution, only serve to underscore it.
I do admire Black, mostly for Milk (Big Love, not so much), and admit my jealousy of his looks and success. And his (presumed) retraction of his reported reaction to the boycott is welcome. Did he feel justified after the success of nuking Prop. 8? Instead of presuming to take away power from those who will (hopefully) always have it–ordinary LGBT citizens, anywhere, fighting for their rights–would that you instead, Lance, could write another, greater film with an even greater gay male protagonist, or antagonist?