becoming assimilated


Who benefits from assimilation? The folks who are assimilated? Or those who are assimilating?

I am not sure that any society which has had a long history of racism, misogyny, or homophobia–and now transphobia–is really one to which I should be running to assimilate. Nor do I see real evidence from the last fifty years that there has been a fundamental transformation in this society. It mostly seems that the majority of folks have merely learned to sublimate their bigotries just enough as a mask that allows them to continue benefitting from the systemic privileges woven into the superstructure.

This is an important ethical point. If I am on the outside of normal society–because I am a gay man–do changes in society that make it easier for me to assimilate to the status quo provide me real, tangible benefits? Do I get more by being tolerated?

Possibly my assimilation is much easier than that of many of my brothers and sisters among LGBTQ because I am a cisgender white male who, according to the markers of heteronormative power, “passes as straight.” That means I am a gay man who has to let strangers know that I am gay because I don’t act like a stereotypical “femme.”

Yeah. So much of what I just wrote is based on generations of diverse patterns of oppression.

And the main point is that it might be much easier for me to assimilate to everyday society at large. But there are many, esp. LGBTQ of color, for whom assimilation will not go smoothly precisely because they break so many of the normalizing patterns. It is important to ask about whether the goal of seeking equal standing before the law is about receiving full citizen benefits or about finally being recognized as more than a second or third class human being.

And there is something to be asked about what we who struggle to be ourselves are trading away when we go along with normalizing processes.

The monumentalizing of Stonewall calls attention to what is an increasing dissonance among those involved in LGBTQ activism: those who welcome the so-called protection offered by police and the state, and those who feel targeted by them. The symbolic gesture that is the White House’s recognition of Stonewall raises questions about who among the queer community actually benefits from the move toward inclusion. In particular, low-income queer and trans people of color have yet to see the positive effects of accelerating assimilation.

Source: How the United States’ First LGBT National Memorial Gets It Wrong

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