Simon Williamson, columnist with Georgia Voice

Simon Williamson: Using our own privilege

Us middle-class white gay men do actually carry around a fair amount of privilege, despite the common victimhood self-flagellation in the comments section of any article that disputes it. A great example of this is the massive effort we put behind the ability to marry, a vitally important right, but the succeeding of which has seen the wind leave our activist sails like the color from Robby Mook’s face on election night.

It is no secret that Mike Pence, the vice-president elect, is a fundamentalist Christian zealot who wants to do away with us, and will if given the chance. But in a 60 Minutes interview last weekend, Donald Trump said that the Supreme Court had ruled on gay marriage and that the issue was done.

Why on earth would gay marriage be okay under our upcoming despot, when Roe v. Wade is on the chopping block? The simple explanation is that Trump doesn’t want a gay marriage fight (which he would likely lose, and which the public is basically in favor of anyway) but campaigned on abortion. But the more complicated answer is that restricting abortion by doing away with Roe v. Wade has a lot to do with beating up on a poor constituency that doesn’t matter to him.

I read a piece by Dr Yasmin Nair the other day in which she said, “The fact that it’s abortion and not gay marriage that’s under threat reveals everything we need to know about gender, power, and poverty,” which is a quite beautiful summary of what has been unleashed upon us by the limpness of our supposed gatekeeper (a beige and tepid Clinton campaign) and the forces of darkness Republicans just shat all over Washington, DC.

While we are unlikely to see an Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or anything that protects us in any new way while Jesus’s ayatollah of hatefulness, Mike Pence, is within breathing distance of the White House, it seems unlikely that marriage will be rolled back. Our middle-classest of middle-class concerns will be preserved, while, for poor women, the opposite will happen. Historically “normal-looking,” middle-income gay people will be fine, while poor women, trans people who don’t present like they are off to the races, and those in the LGBT community who struggle daily with homelessness, joblessness and pushback based on how they present themselves to the world will, as usual, be left out of the great rights victory.

LGBT undocumented immigrants stand no chance under President Trump. LGBT black men will remain on the receiving end of police brutality. Poor women will continue to be screwed by the Hyde Amendment, and the small but significant increased ability to receive healthcare from the Obama years will plummet like the Brexit-era value of sterling. Trans people trying to correct bureaucratic gender paperwork have a higher mountain to climb now, and let’s not even get onto how young trans folks must deal with the world they have just been dropped into, mere months after the current Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, said, “We see you.”

White and middle-class gays (of which I am very much one) will be fine if the marriage decision holds, especially if we live in the few gay-friendly parts of the U.S., like Midtown. But as someone who, only about a year ago, still lived in the rural reaches of Newton County, I can tell you that marriage is but a stepping-stone on the miles of highway that lie ahead. And to think that this one preservation of this one right is any sort of sign to breathe a sigh of relief is folly, and deeply unfair to the rest of our community that has more to deal with than whether or not we can be part of the absurd system that hands out rights and privileges based on whom the government says you can share a last name with. It is up to us too, to use our power and privilege, to counter this president-elect.