We’re seeing big changes as governments across the western world shift sharply to the right. This month I’d like to explore what the implications of that shift are for our community. From Donald Trump to Boris Johnson, from walls to Brexit, the world seems to have taken a large step backwards in recent years. The issue isn’t that cycle, which is to be expected. Its strength is the real concern. We’ve seen a movement being born. Shifting us away from human rights, and global consciousness, and back to hatred and nationalism.
It’s very dangerous for those of us in the center, and on the left, to pretend that oppressive ideas have gone away. I don’t think that the people we’re seeing burning crosses, and hoisting Nazi flags, have suddenly been converted to this particularly distasteful counter-evolutionary stance. They were always there, lurking in the shadows. They’ve simply been emboldened but the hateful rhetoric of leaders whose ethics, and morals, are questionable.
The greater question to ask is “Why aren’t we fighting back?”. Women, and people of color have been mobilizing everywhere against this step backwards, but, where are the Caucasian gay men. Have privileged, gay, white, men, been deluded into thinking that our rights are safe? We need only look a few of generations back to see a thriving, liberal, society plunge into darkness. Let’s not forget we were among the first to be slaughtered in Nazi Germany.
Part of the issue is that we’ve seen so much progress recently that political action seems unnecessary. With so many advancements in treatment and prevention of HIV people are questioning the value of organizations like Act Up who have been central to our visibility. Now that marriage equality is a reality for many of us in the West it seems like the battles have been won. The wealthiest among us are not funding political action as much as they did even ten years ago.
As a Canadian I am particularly concerned. We tend to have an almost smug attitude towards this shift which to many of us seems un-Canadian. Yet, far right politicians like Doug Ford are getting elected and starting to dismantle some of the things that set us apart. If we are to maintain the values that make us Canadian we must be ready to fight when they are being challenged.
As has always been the case closeted gay men are our worst enemies. Intense self-hatred makes them dangerous. We’re seeing almost daily scandals within conservative political and religious organizations further deepening the perception that all GLBT+ people are a menace to society.
I agree that our focus must be more global. That our people in Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, need our support so that they can secure their rights. However, if our own freedoms start to erode we on’t be able to do much good. It’s time to stand up, to be heard, to make sure that our allies know what’s at stake. We must defend what has taken us decades to build because it can be dismantled in an instant.