Monday, February 6, 2012
Social Justice Stance as a Binary?
Oftentimes when dealing with social justice issues of any kind, I find myself struggling to decide which side is right/which side I actually agree with and therefore want to advocate for. This week, I am intrigued by an article posted on advocate.com about Tennessee Senator Stacey Campfield. Campfield, the man who recently had a major role in Tennessee's "Don't Say Gay" bill, was recently thrown out of a restaurant in Knoxville for his stance on queer issues. The article includes very offensive Campfield quotes at the end to display this very explicit stance. Now, one would think that since I have at least a small connection with advocating for queer issues as an ally, that I would be on the restaurant's side immediately. I thought so as well. However, this story struck me as rather offensive on both sides, and thus, the internal struggle begins. For one, Senator Campfield is obviously an oppressive force against a group that I care a lot about. But on the other hand, these people refusing to serve him doesn't do really do anything for me. At least, not right away. For me, this just seems to hurt the cause, in that the Senator becomes affected by supporters of the movement, which could make him more oppressive towards this movement in the future. At first, I thought, "Why don't they serve this man and try to have a positive affect on him to show that people who believe in queer rights are normal people?" Senator Campfield has been a house representative for some time now, and has the potential to be a senator for quite some time longer, so what good would it do to piss him off? I was stuck on this for a while, and then began to think of how it must feel for queer people to have to appeal to the dominant straight crowd all the time. I find myself normalizing queer people as well when advocating around close-minded friends, which is something I know I have no right to do. What if queer people want to be different? What's so wrong with it, and why can't they have the right to be so? And thus, I found myself back off the straight and narrow (perhaps the queer and...wide? #willworkonthat) and feeling that maybe it's better that Campfield gets a taste of his own medicine. As a man who seems to have a wide array of privileges, I'm going to guess it's not often that he doesn't get his way. And since he spends so much time taking rights away from queer people, I don't mind being on the same side as a few people who decided to do the same to him.