Signorile, Michelangelo. “It’s Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality”, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt , 2015.
The Present and the Future of Gay Rights
Thing sure are different for the LGBT community in the United States compared to just ten years ago. There is marriage equality all across the country, DOMA has been repealed, almost every Democrat in American government supports gay marriage, people have come out at work and in the athletic arena but, yes there is a “but”, all is not as it looks. Michelangelo Signorile shows us that these changes and the excitement that they bring make the situation very dangerous. Homophobia not only exists but it is a major fact of how we live today. Fundamentalism has been planning a backlash “against LGBT rights and challenges the complacency and hypocrisy of supposed allies in Washington, the media, and Hollywood.”
Signorile presents a “battle plan” for the fights that are yet to come as we continue to move toward equality. We read the stories of those in our community who “have refused to be merely tolerated, or worse, and are demanding full acceptance.” Yet it is not all bleak and there are signs of hope documented here. Schools and communities are discovering new ways to fight bullying, fear and ignorance. Signorile tells us that we cannot allow ourselves to take any of these new rights for granted.
I am sure you have noticed and Signorile reminds us that the media has not stopped giving equal airtime for LGBT haters who openly voice homophobic comments. If others would make the kind of statements that have been made against the LGBT community against another community— Blacks, Latinos, Jews the disabled etc., they would receive the same kind of media space of time yet we see a double standard here in the areas of the defamation of our community.
Signorile also tells us that if the Supreme Court makes same-sex legal in all 50 states there will be a tremendous backlash. This is already evident in some states with business owners refusing to sell and rent property, provide services etc to gay clients and thee are only a few states that have laws protecting the LGBT community. Do we need to be reminded that the state of Arkansas has legislatively taken away any protections for LGBT citizens? (I am so happy not to be living there any longer).
One thing that is certainly noticeable in election campaigns is that many who are running for office as well as politicians have stopped making blatant anti-LGBT remarks and comments publicly yet they do so in an underground manner or include these remarks in legislation on religious freedom.
We get some astounding statistics here from Signorile. The suicide rate among gay teens is as high as from 30% to 40% even when they have parents who support them and their choices of ways to live. Some 40% of homeless teens are gay. We read that parents who are Christians and evangelical are likely to reject their children.
Looking at education, Signorile suggests that kids in schools need to be taught LGBT history alongside of their other studies. Looking at sports, Signorile says that this is one of the most difficult jobs to deal with as homophobic remarks seem to come with athletics.
The book is filled with statistics and real stories about real people and as usual the author holds nothing back and calls names. Also, as usual, Signorile is controversial and within the LGBT community itself, there will be those who will argue about the way we treat the enemies. However, since the fight is hardly over, we must be aware that
“there are still well-entrenched and powerful opponents of equality who haven’t yet given up the [their] fight.” We are so lucky to have someone like Michelangelo Signorile who continues to fight for us at every opportunity. He “takes special delight in skewering the views of gay conservatives.”
So we might notice that none of this is news yet we do need to be constantly reminded. We should take a hint from the civil rights movement— it was able to make segregation illegal but blacks still suffer discrimination because of their color and this is true especially in specific parts of the country. Although women made some major inroads in the 1960s and 1970s with birth control and the right to abortion, they still face salary discrimination. Right-wing Christian Republicans keep trying to continue to ban acceptance of LGBT people and are also trying to control abortions and birth control. We need to know that we cannot, for a minute, let down our guard.
Even with the positive shift in the nation’s attitude toward acceptance of the LGBT community; there is still a lot of work to be done. We need to understand that change takes time and that we cannot assume that the situation for our community is over. I doubt it will ever be.
One of the beauties of this book (and there are many) is the factional information about current events in law and in the national attitude towards the LGBT community. The LGBT movement has been one of the great social movements of modern history and there are still a lot of challenges to face. Signorile explains and “exposes the dangerous triumphalism that has taken hold. He reveals the bigotry and bias still deeply embedded in the media, the political establishment, and throughout American culture. And he provides an illuminating, stirring plan of action to vanquish it.”