Every so often, the American social order is reshuffled. And that upheaval is typically accompanied by a prominent face.
Frederick Douglass became the face of the black abolitionist movement. A century later, Martin Luther King Jr. played that role in the civil rights movement. Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem became the spokeswomen for the modern women’s movement.
Yet the gay rights movement, which is about to enter its fifth decade, has never had a such a leader despite making remarkable strides in a relatively short period of time.
Gay people have no national standard-bearer, no go-to sound-byte machine for the media. So when President Obama last week extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees, there was no alpha gay leader to respond with the movement’s official voice, though some activists criticized the president for not going far enough.
Until 1973, homosexuality was classified as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association. Today, same-sex couples can marry in six states. How did a group that has been so successful over the last generation in countering cultural prejudice and winning civil rights make it so far without an obvious leader?
One explanation is that gay and lesbian activists learned early on that they could get along just fine without one. Even in the movement’s earliest days following the violent uprising at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village 40 years ago this week, no singular leader emerged. Some historians believe this is in part because it was — and still is — difficult for the average American to empathize with the struggles of gay people. Read more The New York Times/ International Herald Tribune By JEREMY W. PETERS
I think that the reason why the Gay rights movement does not have one noted leader is indicative of the complexities and the magnitude of sexual orientation and gender identity. The gay rights movement is enormously larger than one specific race or one specific gender or nationality. It includes all races, all cultures, people of all ages and it encompasses the breath of time throughout the ages. This is why the gay rights movement is able to succeed without one national or global leader, because it is so all-inclusive. The fact that this is true is the reason why, today, it is not so easy to even stereotype LGBT people. Because as more people come out the old stereotypes of the past drop like dead flies. We now have football players, other major sport figures, and political leaders, who have come out as being gay. Today, there is no one single caricature that can be applied to LGBT people that fits all. With the wide range of diversified people coming out as “LGBT” more in the recent past, we are beginning see the individual differences that are emerging regarding LGBT people.
Sadly, what is now being caricaturized are the people who oppose the gay rights movement. This can easily be identified in California Prop 8 ads of 2008. One side spoke of love and well-being and the other side spoke of fear and being hysterical. The world saw this difference and this brought out many to leave the opposing side and became educated about human sexuality. The caricatures emerging about the opposition to the Gay Rights Movement is one of being ignorant and being inhuman to other human beings, like it was for the people in the past who oppose civil rights for any one race, nationality or religion. This is because they severely lack the necessary components of separation and individualization that is integral for any growth or a sign of intelligence.
The opponents to the Gay Rights Movement were not just publicized in the California Prop 8, but also in the two previous Bush’s presidential campaign. They used "gay marriage" as can be seen, now, as a form of “gay bashing” based on fear and hysteria in order to win elections.
I suspect that the Gay Rights Movements is moving faster in this time of our history due to the technology of computers and the Internet that promotes instant global communications. This is what caught the Vatican and the hierarchy off guard regarding the global public outpouring of the covered up sexual abuse cases for decades. This public outpouring was constant and concentrated all within a relatively short period of time of a couple of years. The Vatican and the hierarchy could no longer intimidate in their attempts to silence victims of sexual abuse and or their parents, behind closed doors. The same will happen to the Vatican and the hierarchy regarding the Gay Rights Movement, the severe mental and physical harm they cause to children and their silencing and intimation of clerics and others members of religious orders from speaking out the truth about homosexuality. The harm and compensation for the harm caused to LGBT people, by the Vatican and the hierarchy will be astronomical in comparison to sexual abuse cases.