A conversation about the dangers of mainstreaming (Part 1 of 2) Cross-post from The Philippine Online Chronicles

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This article is a response to the Bench campaign about #100HappyGays which can be viewed here. I was having a conversation with my friend and I thought it might be nice to write an article about how both of our respective blood pressures went up while reading through the campaign. Yes, we know as of the time of this article’s writing, only half of the campaign has been released. Still we thought the first two parts actually give a good precedent for the rest of the campaign so here it goes:

Mikee: Can I just start with a loud and clear, “What the FUCK?”

Jiggs: I know! I can call stupid when I see it, but really? Seriously?

M: Ok so, they’re calling it a campaign for Pride March, but I’m not quite sure what it’s for? Is it to glamorize the ‘success’ of queer people? What success? I don’t see anything here but class politics and economic elitism. Let’s forget for a moment that they lumped all the queer people under the term ‘gay’; I’d like to know what my trans* sisters and lesbian friends think about that. Gay hegemony rears its ugly head yet again, but this time in “designer” clothing.

J: There are so many issues with this campaign; I don’t know where to begin. But if there’s one thing I know, it’s this: I have never seen a more self-defeating campaign. If this truly was a campaign for Gay Pride/Pride Month/Pride March, then why are there quotes that reaffirm the oldest, if not the most inane arguments anti-LGBT people have been using to undermine the LGBT movement?! The contradiction is really so silly, it’s almost laughable. But really, how can you laugh when you are so frustrated by how much of a missed opprtunity all of this is?

Class Politics

M: I know it’s Bench. I know it’s probably one of those big companies that make huge profits out of unfair labor practices. I also know that it’s using queer people for its profit-making agenda. What I don’t get is why these people wouldn’t challenge that, or why queer people would agree to be used in this way. It’s Neoliberal politics at its finest. The campaign is less a celebration of gender and sexual diversity, than it is a celebration of capitalism and consumerist culture.

The whole campaign talks about a “gay community” and then proceeds to put up barriers about what it means to be part of that community – you have to be a rebel, you have to stick out, you have to be an outcast – but you also have to be rich enough to actually be able to afford the things that make you that. The whole thing just reeks of class privilege. I mean fine, I also benefit a lot from being middle class and being (relatively) well-educated, but I won’t go around shoving it into other people’s faces. And I don’t run a campaign that on the surface attempts to promote gender and sexual equality, but actually just promotes class hierarchies.

J: PAK! I’m not really surprised that Bench wanted to capitalize on “gays” now being mainstream. Hey, at the end of the day, their motivation is to sell, so it’s not like I expected much from them (actually I kinda do. Hello, anyone heard of corporate social responsibility?). I did however, expect more – so much more from those featured in this campaign. Come on, they’ve been given an excellent platform to talk about the real issues the community is facing. But no, not only did someone said that being gay is “a choice”, one even reduced us to an accessory, by saying that “gay today is a totes must”. Seriously.

That leads me to thinking: are most of the quotes in this article so shallow and senseless because the people chosen to speak on behalf of the LGBT community belong to the “sheltered” class? And do we put the blame then on Bench because they did not try to diversify their so-called 100 happy gays? I would think that featuring LGBT Pride, there would be at least talk of struggle, challenges, and pain at the very least because isn’t that what we should be proud of? The fact that we endure despite of all the ugly things we’ve been through? Divine Lee actually touched on this, but I wish there was more.

Bench should’ve chosen real LGBT heroes, those who have toiled and sacrificed for the movement, used their personal stories and said something like: “the brave and proud wear Bench”. (There, I just fixed this campaign – you’re welcome.)

Identity and Politics: Who are these people?

(View the rest of the article here, please.)

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