Question on Pride, Sexuality, Gender Expression, and that Dreaded Rainbow Flag

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 26, 2009 1:19 PM GMT
    As a former RJer (well not so former anymore), I wanted to take a break from this site before joining once more. But a question has popped up in my mind, and I'd like to hear what some of you think.

    I'm in college--our gay-str8 alliance is in the process of being revived after years of weak leadership. There are a group of five students, myself included, who are trying to do this. But our ideals have sort of clashed lately (me vs. the other 4).

    They want to get rid of our logo: upside-down triangle rainbow flag. One bi guy wrote me: "Not exactly sure [about the logo], but something that suggest more unity between everyone. One of the reasons I don't go to meetings is I feel as if the club is kind of overly stereotypical with things like this. Gay pride is cool and all, but after a certain point, it becomes campy. It's supposed to be a club that is inviting to GLBT students AND straight students who want to support it, but I don't feel it's image matches up with this goal."

    They want to change the name from "the Alliance" to something "more inviting and accepting towards everyone.

    And some even say they do not identify with gay culture... despite the fact they investigate their boyfirend's cultured ass every other night lol.

    On our posters we used to have written "The Alliance: UNE's GLBTQQIAA Club"

    Why not call it the alphabet soup club? "but, we want to be inclusive to everyone... even those who are queer but not gay."

    My opinions:

    The rainbow flag represents sexual diversity... not just gay rights

    The longer the acronym... the most hassle and distaste we will get from homophobes

    What exactly is gay culture? who defines it?

    It seems the younger generation is straying away from unity in the rainbow flag... there are flags for bisexuals, transgenders, and ever bears... all because they don't identify with other sexual oreintations. And every year we add another letter to the accroymn, GLBT... or for you "ultra"-left feminists LBGT.

    I don't mind diversity at all, but I think unity is very important when it comes to the rights of sexual minorities. It doesn't seem like that is the trend though.

    What do you guys think? Am I off the deep end?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 26, 2009 3:49 PM GMT
    It is not jus the younger generation that strays from the rainbow flag, pride events and such. There is a lot fo us out here that have found out we don't have to go screaming we are gay, to be gay. We don't need the rainbow stickers.

    I am a large support of the HRC and have in the past raised money for many gay organization. Your group is correct in looking for soemthing beyond the rainbow and old traditional symbols. To find something that speaks to more people. Take a look around you. There are lots of the bleue and yellow equality stickers popping up on cars, and fewer rainbows.

    So go back to your group with an open mind and be ready to look at thier ideas.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 26, 2009 4:02 PM GMT
    I think the problems you identify have been with us for a long time. At the Univ. of Michigan, the letters kept changing to the point that we'd just call it things like the BGLmnop. Recently it was renamed the Spectrum Center (to, of course, some applause and some criticism). Note that this is not a student group but an office of the university. I think it was the first such when it began nearly 40 years ago.

    http://spectrumcenter.umich.edu


    For people who advocate change, it's funny how sometimes we're also rooted in the past. Everything, from "culture" to symbols, changes. The pink triangle was essentially superceded by the rainbow flag. If something else comes along with greater appeal, more power to it. What's important isn't the symbol but what it represents. (On the other hand, symbols gain power through recognition over time, so don't change them too often.)

    Even politics changes. In the 1970s, gay political culture was that we don't need to get married (that's a straight thing) and that the military should be abolished. Today two of the biggest issues are gay marriage and allowing gay people to openly serve in the military.


    At a queer student leadership conference a few years back, there was a session led by members of a certain group. I forget what the point of the session was, but what I remember is that the group had been around for 2 years and still hadn't managed to come up with a name that addressed everyone's demands. Maybe it's good for some people, but the mind boggles at the energy spent on weekly/monthly meetings, year after year, where the discussion is about coming up with a name. As if the name, rather than what you do, will define you.

    So my suggestion is to decide these things as quickly as possible and start doing things - activities, discussions, events. Start with what you have (name, symbols) and be open to changing them over time (let them evolve).
  • Rookz

    Posts: 947

    Feb 26, 2009 5:01 PM GMT
    What do you mean what is gay cultureicon_question.gif

    We are living it everyday, being excluded from the norm, mocked and looked down upon for our difference of preferring the same sex. We are the transgendered, the queer, the muscle bears, the skinny twinks, the divas, and we are also the standard looking fella. We are black, white, asians, latinos and many other races. We are under the shadow of a flag which unites us that our commonality is our sexual orientation. We have that flag to colorfully raise to the world and have them see,

    we are humans beings as well and deserve the rights that you have taken away for we are different!?


    We make it loud, we should be proud for who we damn are.

    Yes the inverted triangle may seem outdated to younger people, then its within your club right to create a new logo BUT still have it represent gay and straight Alliance. You can call yourselves UNITY for it sounds strong enough to represent gay and straight allies in your campus.

    Just a suggestion, hopefully it will help and that people will contribute further suggestions.
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Feb 26, 2009 5:07 PM GMT
    You tell them that it doesn't matter what logo they want to change as it is the substance behind the logo that makes or breaks that logo. If they feel that the logo doesn't do enough for the GLBT community, then perhaps they need to become more active for the GLBT community.
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Feb 26, 2009 5:13 PM GMT
    If we were all unified, there wouldn't be a need for all these labels and separate groups within the same-sex oriented 'community'.
  • Rookz

    Posts: 947

    Feb 26, 2009 5:16 PM GMT
    Its an ideal. People do try.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 26, 2009 5:22 PM GMT
    How about just gay, lesbian and bisexual.. all the other ones I respect them.. But I don't see what a sex change has to do with a gay dude..

    But lets just throw everything into one pot.. I know that's what made coming out to my parents extra fun.. (NOT) having to tell them i'm gay.. I'm not a woman living in a mans body and 10's of other things they thought that have nothing to do with being gay.

  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Feb 26, 2009 5:30 PM GMT
    Sean_85 said, "How about just gay, lesbian and bisexual.. all the other ones I respect them.. But I don't see what a sex change has to do with a gay dude.."

    How about realizing that we all face the same discrimination from society, regardless of sex or sexual orientation. icon_sad.gif
  • Rookz

    Posts: 947

    Feb 26, 2009 5:34 PM GMT
    Thank you very much coolarmydude. icon_biggrin.gif
  • InsatiableBlo...

    Posts: 442

    Feb 26, 2009 5:50 PM GMT
    Actually I think they should narrow it down to gay and lesbian (GL). Bisexuality, to me, is for confused people. And Transgender people, I respect, but they should not be in the same category.
    And whats wrong with the "dreaded" rainbow flag??
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 26, 2009 6:17 PM GMT

    Tell them to deal with it. Gay unity groups are as much about history as they are future progress. Besides, if I've said it once, I've said it 1 million times, the gay flag is supposed to scream, it is a symbol. How can you consider yourself a group for progress if you tone yourself down to the point that you conform too much to the current oppostion, almost to the point of negating your own cause? What's the point of uniting anyway for a cause if noone knows you are uniting because you have a group name no one has seen before, symbols noone identifies with, and and no identity. That would be fine if this group was just a buncha friends hanging out, but hopefully, I would think, a goal of your group is to have influence over some aspects of your campus when regarding your gay selves so tell them that GAY PRIDE was the start of most of the progress gay men enjoy today and the battle is not over, PRIDE along with all of its symbols as campy as they are, is a tool with the means to finish the battle and they must not be abandoned: to do so is to render oneself defenseless on the battlefield.

    You are all gay and the symbols as they are today are inclusive because they are well known. If you change the symbols and christ, the name...you will no longer have a recognizable group that is all inclusive, you will be left with a clique that can only be populated by word of mouth by your "queer but not gay members", can you guess what type they will exclude?

    Who's going to take you serious then: it's ok to be queer but not gay...are you kidding me? The word stereotype needs to be abandoned when it comes to gay. It's only typical that gay men like dick, not stereotypical, hell it's typical that most gay men are gay not queer. Stereotypes are obsolete or an act. If anything is stereotypical, it is a bunch of queers trying to act like something they are not.

    When it comes to gay pride: it should be implied that straight and bi are included: they are included in just about anything, but gay men especially these so called stereotypes: swishy, femmy, flaming....are not usually welcome in most venues and they know it. It is much easier for them to feel excluded and not know where to go: your group should not shut them out while trying to include a group that already knew it was included.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 26, 2009 6:20 PM GMT
    The problem is that no matter how hard we try there is always going to be someone who discriminates against us. There will always be bigots. There will always people who discriminate because of race, gender, sexual orientation, people who hate Monday's (I mean come on not every Monday is bad.)

    Having a group/club that tries to unify the masses is always going to have a tremendous struggle because the masses don't agree. They can't because too many individuals make up the masses.
    You might have the sweetest and best dressed drag queen standing next to the straightest butch gay jock on the planet and that doesn't mean that they will (or have to) agree on anything just because they both are sexually diverse people in the eyes of straights.

    Gay culture is defined by the gay person you're talking to at the moment and by your own personal view on life and how you are treated because you're gay.
    When I first came out I jacked up the campy queen within me because I thought "that's what gay's do". It didn't take long for me to realize, hey, I wasn't a queen a year ago and that's not who I am. I'm just a guy who likes to @#$@ other guys. That doesn't mean I have to act like a girl. But I don't hate on the guys that are queens either. It's their choice.

    Keep trying to preach peace and unity, we as a culture and a society need that, but realize there will never be a day where everyone on the planet holds hands and agrees on the same point. It's not human nature.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 26, 2009 6:22 PM GMT
    I think the gay flag is a great symbol. It reflects diversity brilliantly.

  • Rookz

    Posts: 947

    Feb 26, 2009 7:14 PM GMT
    Part of our gay culture is Love. Even as some in this world hate us, we can't fight back with hate. As I learned from Prop 8, love endures.

    Yes we may fight and disagree, even among gays, but we come together to fight against an advesary that tries to push us down. But guess what, we'll stand up and show who we are with open our arms and say,

    Hate me but I'll take my rainbow flag and still wave it around for the world to see I'm proud of who I am.

    Gays generation before us waved that flag, I recently picked up that flag myself and carry on our message. Others after me will carry it that flag for what it stands for.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 26, 2009 7:21 PM GMT
    What does it mean to be queer but not gay?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 26, 2009 7:24 PM GMT
    what about just taking the politics out of my bedroom....
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 26, 2009 7:40 PM GMT
    I understand where you all are coming from and I respect it, but for me the problem has something to do with the gay culture question. I've never been in gay culture (except this website, which isn't even a big connection for me). To be told that your flag is the rainbow flag because it is so important to gay culture is off-putting because I've never been in gay culture. There is no connection of me and the culture so why is there an expectation of me having a connection to an unappealing flag?

    I'm more likely to wave the Belgian flag. I don't mean that in a random sense, but I lived there for four years. I went through the last part of elementary school and was, in part, raised by the locals. I still have a connection with them. Telling me I'm supposed to love this flag and culture is like telling me I'm suddenly Latvian and I should wave around the Latvian flag. Yes we are discriminated against and lack rights, but really? I have to fight against it with a flag? I think part of the fight is breaking stereotypes. Everyone I've known who embraces the flag only affirms it. I think having multiple identities makes it complicated.
  • Rookz

    Posts: 947

    Feb 26, 2009 7:45 PM GMT
    LGWC, you can wave your flag if you want.

    The gay community does not force feed people what is to be you; that's the damage straight culture has forced values unto us. That we are wrong, that we are the sin, that we shouldn't exist.

    You have the right to wave your flag for it has meaning to you, that's great!

    You stated you have no exposure to gay culture, that's fine for you have not have that kind of exposure of what our fight is like. You have your own battle, continue on what's your agenda.
  • imperator

    Posts: 626

    Feb 26, 2009 8:08 PM GMT
    4891abucscjc saidAs a former RJer (well not so former anymore), I wanted to take a break from this site before joining once more. But a question has popped up in my mind, and I'd like to hear what some of you think.

    I'm in college--our gay-str8 alliance is in the process of being revived after years of weak leadership. There are a group of five students, myself included, who are trying to do this. But our ideals have sort of clashed lately (me vs. the other 4).

    They want to get rid of our logo: upside-down triangle rainbow flag. One bi guy wrote me: "Not exactly sure [about the logo], but something that suggest more unity between everyone. One of the reasons I don't go to meetings is I feel as if the club is kind of overly stereotypical with things like this. Gay pride is cool and all, but after a certain point, it becomes campy. It's supposed to be a club that is inviting to GLBT students AND straight students who want to support it, but I don't feel it's image matches up with this goal."

    They want to change the name from "the Alliance" to something "more inviting and accepting towards everyone.

    And some even say they do not identify with gay culture... despite the fact they investigate their boyfirend's cultured ass every other night lol.

    On our posters we used to have written "The Alliance: UNE's GLBTQQIAA Club"

    Why not call it the alphabet soup club? "but, we want to be inclusive to everyone... even those who are queer but not gay."

    My opinions:

    The rainbow flag represents sexual diversity... not just gay rights

    The longer the acronym... the most hassle and distaste we will get from homophobes

    What exactly is gay culture? who defines it?

    It seems the younger generation is straying away from unity in the rainbow flag... there are flags for bisexuals, transgenders, and ever bears... all because they don't identify with other sexual oreintations. And every year we add another letter to the accroymn, GLBT... or for you "ultra"-left feminists LBGT.

    I don't mind diversity at all, but I think unity is very important when it comes to the rights of sexual minorities. It doesn't seem like that is the trend though.

    What do you guys think? Am I off the deep end?



    I spent five years (four on, two off, one back on) on the executive of the GLBT group at my alma mater, and every couple of years some frosh who gets involved drags that same horse in for another round of flogging. "We should start a committee to look into a new name/logo." During one of my presidencies it came up and after the group had kept the same name for 20 or so years, we elected to change it to "Spectrum." Sounds plenty inclusive, right? A couple years later, new frosh were all "Spectrum sounds too vague, how will gay people know it's a group for them?" {sighs}

    Then there's the relevance debate every few years-- "what's our mandate, who are we supposed to be appealing to, what should we be doing so that people will notice (and care) that we exist?" Some years a lot of would-be activists show up and it will swing towards supporting the closeted, the oppressed and the downtrodden. So the 'fluffy' people will stop attending because everything's "too serious," and after a couple years of visibility and advocacy, the leadership will get bored or graduate, or enough 'progress' will be made in society that the old "we're 'post-gay'/'post-sexual-identity-politics'" argument will come up, so the activists will start to question their efficacy and will disappear into the wilderness in despair. The apolitical types will come back and the group will swing back towards being a social space to watch movies and organize bowling nights and 'gay proms,' until at some point it degenerates into a clique (despite the executive's determination not to... in fact, sometimes the clique becomes a fan club for one or more exec members) and then, inevitably, because it's become a cult of personalities, some pathological personality will see an opportunity to insinuate itself in the group (usually a drama queen or a compulsive liar or a saboteur) and things will implode, leaving the organization decimated and once again questioning its mandate and relevance.

    So what can you do in the face of that kind of cyclical, almost prophetically pre-determined pattern? I'd suggest trying to be the voice of reason.

    Alphabet soup and inclusivity? Say "we can't please everybody. We shouldn't burn ourselves out trying to please everybody. We have limited resources and minimal 'market penetration.' (Since, if the group dropped off the radar a a while back, your 'brand name' has probably become obscure and unfamiliar) We should pick our target demographic, clearly align ourselves with it via an unambiguous name that identifies us to them, and try to serve them as best as we can."

    'Campy gay-culture identification?' Tell them that the group is either something, or it's nothing. If it's something, it needs to 'know itself' and be unashamed and unapologetic for being what it is. So if it's going to be a 'gay' students' group, then-- sorry-- but the group doesn't get to unilaterally re-invent "gay." Gay people (while neither a 'race' nor a monolith) have a long, arguably 'rich' composite of history that should be acknowledged, and if the group doesn't want to respect its origins and its forebears, it should call itself something else, something that it can 'invent.' Individual participants might not identify with every aspect of 'gay culture' (as though any free-thinking homo does) but no one is forced to participate; so if they don't like 'the g-word' they can go start some asinine "goi club" or something.

    The trap that you're watching people fall into is part of the obsession with 'individuality.' Every up-and-comer wants to be 'themselves,' but those who are too lazy to take the time to figure 'themselves' out take a shortcut and settle for merely being "different from" those who came before. So, mom and dad wore bell-bottom jeans. Their kids grow up and-- desperate to individuate themselves from mom and dad-- they take to wearing straight-legs. Then they have kids, who-- desperate to individuate themselves-- start wearing bell-bottoms again and think that they 'came up with it.' You're just seeing the same process at work. Maybe, if you can draw (or knock) them out of their hamster wheel and get them to see how slavishly they're conforming to the "post-post-post-post...ad nauseum" mentality, they'll join you in looking for reasonable solutions instead of just trying to be 'original.'
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 26, 2009 8:14 PM GMT

    The flag affirms the existance of a gay community, nothing more. All of these gays are saying they don't need a gay flag, well then fine, be that way. In the meantime, enjoy trying to enjoy your rights without an identity or anyone backing you. Get rid of the American flag then: we don't need it anyway with so many people who live here not being from here; they are all so different (a vast mixture of races and beliefs), some of them even went to the last part of elementary school in Belgium, they should be waving the Belgian flag.

    However, you're American because you are part of this country (what happens to it, concerns you), just like you are a part of the gay community because you are gay, not because you like rainbows. The flag let's you know it and extends the hand of welcome. If you don't like it, go smash "stereotypes" on your own. What are you gonna say "hey, I'm gay, but not like those flag wavers over there."....who cares if you don't look it, are you gay or not? My point again is , if you were going to assemble a huge hord of unrecognizably gay men and try to smash stereotypes about gay men, aren't you just affirming those stereotypes? You are because you are basically cutting a swath between you and those "stereotypes", what the hell kind of group does that?

    A group lets everyone with a common bond tying them to that group's theme in. In regards to this, the theme is GAY, so whether you are American, straight acting, gay acting, Belgiun, or green with polka dots, you get in. All of these renegades of gay culture, norms, and history, I just gotta question what there purpose is: if they want everything that identifies them as gay to dissapear, what does that leave them with? In theory, that would leave them as an undiscriminated part of society: a sweet sentiment, but not realistic, it would turn the discrimination as unassuming as they themselves would become and nothing would really change. However, right now, the elephant in the room is just that; why not unite with the already estabalished community and say "WE ARE DIVERSE, some of us are this way and some of us that: some of us you can't even tell by looking that we are...but we are and we are proud."

    That's the whole point here.
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Feb 26, 2009 8:23 PM GMT
    I'm prepared for people to disagree with me, so here goes. The point of a gay/straight alliance is not the same as a GLBT student union. If you are going to have a gay/straight alliance group, it's logo and name should not be specifically gay or straight, or use the symbolism our culture attaches to those labels.
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    Feb 26, 2009 8:33 PM GMT
    Timberoo saidI'm prepared for people to disagree with me, so here goes. The point of a gay/straight alliance is not the same as a GLBT student union. If you are going to have a gay/straight alliance group, it's logo and name should not be specifically gay or straight, or use the symbolism our culture attaches to those labels.


    I can see your point. But why is there a group to begin with? Do str8 people need help telling their friends and families that they are str8? Do str8 people get bullied? Do gay people use religious views to strip str8 people of their rights? Do str8 people get bashed by gays very often?

    The point I am making... the group is about tolerance toward sexual diversity. Yet it is GLBT members who suffer by far the most... not Str8 people.

    GLBTA should then be GLBTS? Where the A = Allies & is replaced by S = Striaght?

    Str8s do not need support or help with their sexuality. Str8s come to support us because of their great courage, empathy, and love. But this group isn't about injustice towards str8 people.

    I dunno those are my feelings.....
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 26, 2009 8:38 PM GMT

    Don't reply to that OP, what you said above put all my fears to rest. icon_surprised.gif

  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Feb 26, 2009 8:44 PM GMT
    4891abucscjc said
    Timberoo saidI'm prepared for people to disagree with me, so here goes. The point of a gay/straight alliance is not the same as a GLBT student union. If you are going to have a gay/straight alliance group, it's logo and name should not be specifically gay or straight, or use the symbolism our culture attaches to those labels.


    I can see your point. But why is there a group to begin with? Do str8 people need help telling their friends and families that they are str8? Do str8 people get bullied? Do gay people use religious views to strip str8 people of their rights? Do str8 people get bashed by gays very often?

    The point I am making... the group is about tolerance toward sexual diversity. Yet it is GLBT members who suffer by far the most... not Str8 people.

    GLBTA should then be GLBTS? Where the A = Allies & is replaced by S = Striaght?

    Str8s do not need support or help with their sexuality. Str8s come to support us because of their great courage, empathy, and love. But this group isn't about injustice towards str8 people.

    I dunno those are my feelings.....


    I've always been under the impression that a gay/straight alliance is there to promote the "we're all people" agenda and be an example that people of different sexualities aren't all that different. If you want a group that's going to focus solely on gay issues, then form a GLBT union.