What are you up to this weekend?
I'm heading down to Hyde Park to join in the demonstration planned by Chicago's Gay Liberation Network ,happening as close to Obama's Chicago residence as possible. GLN is using May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia Oppression, to protest the Obama administration's silence on the anti-queer killing sprees going on in Iraq. IDAHO will also be commemorated in San Franciso, Ankara, the capitol of Turkey, Toronto, and many more towns and cities in the UK. An organization called the ALDE group will promote IDAHO in the European Parliament.
I wonder if IDAHO is aware that "Homosexuality Knows No Borders" is almost the perfect bi/pansexual statement. Damn right. I've always wanted to dress up like Anita Bryant for Pride Day and carry a big sign: "Homosexuality--It's Not Just For Homosexuals Anymore." Do you think this could be the year?
In March, the Obama administration signed on to the United Nation's statement against the criminalization of sodomy and gender expression, plus any other legalized anti-queer violence. The Bush Administration wouldn't sign it. Obama's move seemed to be a corrective measure, signaling a brighter US foreign policy future for LGBTQ people worldwide. Unfortunately, Obama may have signed on because it required no effort, since "supporting this statement commits us to no legal obligations."
70 to 80 countries criminalize same-sex activity and gender expression. Among these, seven exact the death penalty--Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Mauritania, Nigeria, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, and Somalia. (Iran claims that its flogging and execution of gay teenagers was for rape, not same-sex behavior per se.) While the UN statement has no legal teeth, its heart is in the right place. What is more, agencies like UNAIDS and UN Development Programme have got the right idea. There is no fighting AIDS or protecting developing countries against the economic onslaught of AIDS without also fighting against anti-queer violence, state sanctioned or not.
The International Transgender Day of Remembrance is sorrowful and horrific, yet highly effective at exposing the violence that targets the queer community's most marginalized and vulnerable members. I wonder if the bisexual community can learn from this, rather than letting ourselves to get lost in the woodwork.
I never presume that just because I don't hear about specific anti-bi/pansexual/fluid sexuality violence it doesn't happen. In fact, whenever a story pops up about attacks on bi or pansexual people, I'm surprised it got any news coverage. Like this story of a bisexual mother of two, trying to stop the Canadian government from sending her home to Nigeria, where both she and her children could be put to death. Or this story of a bisexual male transvestite who was almost murdered in the UK. Or this story of this Texas bi man, whose face was so demolished by a homophobic attacker, he has permanently lost his sense of smell.
The hypersexualized, pornographic, AIDS-panicky image of bisexuals dehumanizes anyone who expresses their fluid sexuality. It promotes the impression that we are 24-hour sex party people and/or menaces to society. Violence, discrimination--do straights and other queers perceive us suffering those things?
While it may or may not be too late in the game to complete the IDAHO Challenge the idea itself is quite good.
Gays.com is suffering from sabotage presently. How that would effect last-minute submissions I don't know. But we could create a lot of visibility about fluid sexuality at this level, around international violence or any other issue; upload diverse switch-hitters from around the world.
As for keeping track of violence that happens to bis and other queers, try what I do: set up Google Alerts to your email for a whole array of sexual and gender identities and fluid sexuality subjects. Sure, you'll get a gazillion alerts for Lindsay Lohan or Tila Tequila. Annoying, but nothing that can't be deleted. Be willing to plow through the dreck; you will come up with some interesting nuggets. If you are like me, you may even want to publish some of your findings.
Of course, creating awareness within our own bi community about anti-LGBTQ violence, giving people links to anti-violence organizations, and telling them where to report an anti-queer attack is essential to generate information and get attention for this issue. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs can assist people in finding their local anti-violence organizations.
I like IDAHO for it's acknowledgment of shared suffering and hope beyond borders, but it's not like I think the US is any great shakes compared to other countries. 2008 saw an increase in violence against LGBTQ people, as do most national election years and Prop 8 was certainly no help. The criminalization of same-sex behavior in this country only ended 6 years ago.
Obama has slid so far back on torture, he is smack-dab in Bush territory. What possible attention will his administration give to Iraqi gay or transgendered people being hunted down in the streets or lesbians raped in South African as a "cure" for their lesbianism or a Nigerian bi woman terrified of being sent back to the horror she ran from? There's that visibility issue again. What shall we do now? "Agitate, agitate, agitate."