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But this is an absurd way to look at desire. You might as well ask someone to name the exact moment they began liking Chaucer or disliking Hemingway. When did I begin to prefer lilies to roses?

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What time did the clock read at the exact moment I fell in love with my partner? All of our desires are continually being shaped throughout our lives, in the very specific contexts in which we discover and rehearse them. These desires suggested to me a queer identity, which I at first reluctantly accepted and then passionately embraced.

This new identity in turn helped reinforce and grow new gay desires within me. Granted, none of this means that there were no genetic or prenatal factors that went into the construction of my or any other sexual orientation. It just means that even if those factors exist, many more factors do too. So why not encourage conversations about those other things? Early gay rights activists compared sexuality to religion - a crucial part of our life that we should be free to practise however we like Credit: Ignacio Lehamann. So what are we to do with the Born This Way rhetoric?

There are several reasons for this. The evidence to date offers no consensus that the Born This Way argument is the beginning and end of the story. We should stop pretending that it does. For that matter, why play their game and pretend the only forms of difference that deserve justice are those we were born with? Finally, I would argue that the Born This Way narrative can actively damage our perceptions of ourselves.

In my sophomore year of college, I attended a Gay Student Alliance event at a nearby campus. It was the last meeting before Thanksgiving break, and the theme was coming out to your families. This is just who I am! Because we are beautiful and fabulous. Ward sees this as a self-hating narrative.

The LGBTQ civil rights fight is far from over

Perhaps it is time to look to the beginning of the gay rights movement. Gay and lesbian activists, says Ward, used to draw on religion parallels to argue for inclusion. But there are still legal protections for them. Fortunately, we have now made enormous strides in understanding and affirming our queer sexualities.

What you need to know about the gay rights movement

A recent UK poll from J. More than a third chose a number between one and five. This fact — and it is of the utmost importance to acknowledge this — rendered them more permeable, at a first stage, to issues such as gay and lesbian emancipation, and much later provided space for its supporters within left-wing political parties the Socialist Party, the Communist Party and the Left-Wing Bloc.

In the US, societal response to AIDS was shaped by the fight against the epidemic organised within gay communities, those most affected by it, at least initially, and also those best prepared as a result of an already considerable and substantial past in terms of community organisation and political struggle.

This model, typical of central societies, spread to countries with a tradition of associations and of organised communities, and allowed for reaction to the backlash which came as a result of the initial impact of AIDS. In Portugal, exactly the opposite happened. It was in organising the fight against AIDS that associations were created, and there is little cause to speak of a backlash, as there was little or no ground to give up, nor were there opposing forces against which to resist in defence of acquired rights. The Portuguese association movement and, in general, the visibility of a gay community — which finds in it one of its pillars and which, therefore, is not complete without it — gained strength within the broader process of the fight against the AIDS epidemic.

It began to include itself in this dynamics, using it to great advantage before it was able to become autonomous.

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It is to this extent that the socio-genesis of gay associations in Portugal confirms the semiperipheral situation of the Portuguese social formation, initially theorised by Boaventura de Sousa Santos , following up on Immanuel Wallerstein, and whose application to the LGBT community was made by Ana Cristina Santos Besides, the emergence of gay associations within the context of the fight against the epidemic is not exclusive to Portugal; it is rather common to and typical of other semiperipheral societies.

This situation was not entirely without cost, given that the double membership of some gay association leaders in these NGOs gave rise initially to a certain number of situations imbued with ambiguity and conflict of interests whenever somewhat paternalistic attitudes on the part of NGOs led to interference in association politics. We are dealing here with a model of civic participation which has been well known at least since Tocqueville, who described the way reformist initiatives and political intervention in general sprang in Europe from enlightened elites political, economic, social and cultural , who behaved as representatives of third parties who had delegated their own interests to them, whether formally or tacitly.

In contradistinction, in the grassroots model prevailing in the US, the protagonists were associations of anonymous citizens actually representing themselves by electing their delegates from among their peers. The fight against discrimination against HIV-positive individuals and the sick uniformly stressed the common good, without taking on the role of mouthpiece for their special interests and without even referring to them explicitly, rather diluting them in the broader context of human and citizenship rights. It further contributed to the concept of prevention as a social responsibility, held by many sectors of Portuguese society, beyond the medical profession, from political power structures to NGOs and the media, and to concerns with political correctness, until then almost unheard of with regard to gays.

Pivotal Moments in the Modern Civil Rights Movement

This resulted in a kind of official acknowledgement of the existence of a gay and lesbian community and a quasi-sanctioning of its sexual behaviours — a visibility and sanction whose importance can also be measured by the outraged reactions of certain bodies such as the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Indeed, the homophobia and heterosexism traditionally to be found in Portuguese society were in equal measure met head-on and silenced for the first time by an authoritative discourse conveyed in the fight against AIDS.

Finally, the emerging association movement could thus avail itself of a capital of respectability — i. Furthermore, this dynamics reduced the room for manoeuvre, public receptiveness and efficacy of its enemies, who, nonetheless, remained, but were only able to flex their muscles again from the moment when the association movement raised other banners with enough strength to defend these appropriately, which did not really happen before From the point of view of the time frame I presented at the beginning of this article, the process I have been describing takes us approximately from the emergence of the AIDS epidemic until , when the lesbian magazine Organa and the Homosexual Working Group were founded.

I take this as an arbitrary milestone that concludes the process of the initial impact of AIDS on the community. This unique opportunity took its toll in blood with an extensive martyrology, whose importance has never been fully appreciated by the social science research of a country possessing a mythic-religious heritage as does Portugal and on which I am unable to dwell here. Viewed very superficially, I would suggest that this is a phenomenon that, par excellence , deprives adversaries of arguments in a culture, such as the Portuguese, in which public statements of conviction have less to do with doctrinaire debate and rational argumentation than with heroic example-setting with its counterpart, aesthetic seduction.

Paradoxically, or perhaps not entirely, this is a factor in addition to others cited that possibly explains the peculiar way in which Portugal witnessed phenomena of such magnitude and of such profound repercussions elsewhere especially in the US , such as discrimination against HIV-positive individuals and the sick, victim blaming, or the health scare which always accrues to moral scare.

In other words, the terms of the anti-gay and lesbian battery of arguments remained essentially the same, and nothing resembling the wave of persecution in the immediate aftermath of the AIDS epidemic occurred here. On the other hand, this confirms the archaic features of Portuguese society: the gay community had not moved beyond the traditional stage of marginalisation it was not acknowledged as equal, or even as a valid interlocutor , objectification it had no control over the social representations produced about it and was not the subject of public affirmation or action , invisibility it was stripped of self-expression, of representatives, and no relevant persons or events were associated to it and resignation it only adjusted, as an imperative for survival, to the marginal and clandestine situation to which it was relegated.

This also meant that, for the gay community, the AIDS epidemic worked as a type of outing, both of individuals in and of themselves when affected by the disease and of the community in general. Indeed, after the first impact of the AIDS epidemic in Portugal between and , the maturing process of association-building, as a reaction to the above impact, occurred approximately between and , and took on crucial importance in the time frame I have proposed.

It was during these years between and that the transformation I have described took place. The years and were years of transition between the periods coming immediately before and immediately after, during which — respectively — features of the preceding period are maintained and features of the subsequent period begin to appear. As it happens, in the central countries, the epidemic contributed to precipitate a fundamental change of strategy: from a struggle for sexual citizenship centred on the demand for rights regarding practical conduct rights to sexual activity, to pleasure, to the body and identity the right to self-definition, to expression, to self-fulfilment to a struggle for sexual citizenship underscoring rights with regard to relationships the right to consent, to free choice, to institutional acknowledgement of relationships, such as domestic partnerships and marriage, and related rights such as medically assisted pregnancy and adoption.

This aimed at crumbling the more or less rigid frontiers between the ghetto and the larger society, but, as Foucault long before diagnosed, it is also more difficult than entrenchment in the ghetto. From the alternative lifestyles which can only germinate in the ghetto, that is to say, an alternative in difference, we shift to an alternative in integration, in equality, in parity and in indifference. Such is the case of marriage and adoption, which for gays and lesbians signify building a lifestyle grounded on remaking what Anthony Giddens called the pure relationship.

However, this only became possible as a result of a long process of building identities and consolidating LGBT communities, which only happened in Portugal in a superficial way. We have now arrived at the last period, which began to take shape in the years , a triennium of transition which retained features of the preceding phase and which has been fully constituted from the latter date to the present time. However, it was clearly different from these two organisations inasmuch as it emerged within a political party, the Revolutionary Socialist Party, which was initially influenced by Trotskyist ideology.

The overall receptiveness and even overt goodwill of some of the media round off this favourable period, lasting at least until late It was in this context that the first Pride Festival took place — later held in the emblematic Lisbon Municipality Square — as well as the first Pride March Last but not least, Portuguese LGBT associations became prime interlocutors of party political organisations and governmental bodies in what concerns the drafting of legislation, although they have had to counter the condescension of the latter with the definition of their own agendas, of which a salient example was the recent launch of the pro-marriage rights campaign.

Indeed, the emancipatory dynamics remains until the present time, but is confronted by two facts: association-building has reached what seems to be a limit in growth; this, in turn, has coincided with but is not an effect of the beginning of an anti-emancipatory reaction and of an adverse political and media environment which configure a new agonistic situation, not dissimilar to that which initially prompted it.

The LGBTQ civil rights fight is far from over - Vox

They did not erupt onto a historical, social and cultural tabula rasa. In Portugal, associations, as well as all the expressions of LGBT cultures and identities, are faced with a history of oppression, denial and social control, which lent shape to the characteristics of the Portuguese social formation that are adverse to them. The fruits of such work would represent an invaluable acquisition for the main actors in LGBT associations in Portugal.


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Job insecurity and wage disparities not only make it difficult for LGBT workers to provide financially stable homes for their families, but they also lead to sporadic health insurance coverage, inadequate housing, and increased economic insecurity. Rustin saw the stability of the American workforce for all workers as critical to achieving equality for the most marginalized groups, and this holds true today.


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We can begin to address the workplace discrimination and wage disparities facing the LGBT community by taking the following steps:. Rustin saw poverty as one of the greatest threats to the larger struggle for human rights and individual freedoms. Despite the enormous progress made over the past 50 years, those in the black community still face severe economic challenges and fewer opportunities in comparison to their white counterparts.

This economic vulnerability is exacerbated for LGBT members of the community.

Lessons from Bayard Rustin: Why Economic Justice Is an LGBT Issue

Still, years after America has begun its rebound from the Great Recession, the black LGBT community is slow to recover and continues to be greatly affected by increasing economic disparities. This security in their identity as LGBT people does not make them immune to the effects of bias and discrimination. Black LGBT people are more likely to be living in poverty than their peers, and black same-sex couples have poverty rates at least twice the rate of black different-sex married couples.

Black men in same-sex relationships are more than six times as likely to be in poverty than white men in same-sex couples— Recent data also show that black same-sex couples are more likely to have children and be raising those children in poverty. According to the U. Generally, children in households headed by same-sex couples have higher rates of poverty than those in households headed by different-sex couples.