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April 8, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Bent

You may have noticed in the last week that your Facebook feed is full of people changing their profile pictures to one of those red equals signs. Perhaps you were confused at first about what they meant, but a little asking around led to the realisation that they are to show support for marriage equality, made topical worldwide by the issue reaching the Supreme Court in the US in relation to both Proposition 8 in California (which abolished marriage equality soon after California gained it), and DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples) nationwide.

But do you know where that logo comes from? It’s a self-promoted adaptation of the logo of an organisation called the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). By adopting and promoting the logo, we lend the organisation legitimacy, appointing them by committee as the voice for the entire queer-rights movement.

The entire queer rights movement, though, is about more than just marriage equality. The entire queer-rights movement includes trans* rights and the rights of people of colour. It includes queer women, and homeless youth (a group which is disproportionately queer). These are groups that need more than just marriage equality. As queer people, we are diverse in the races, classes, and genders with which we identify, and we need to represent that when we’re campaigning on a popular issue like marriage equality. More importantly we can’t let ourselves or anyone else think that our job stops at marriage.

The HRC has a pretty well-documented history of ignoring the rights of some groups in favour of others. One of their worst offences was when during a recent rally outside the White House in support of marriage equality, they asked people to stop waving a trans* flag because, in their, opinion, marriage equality wasn’t a trans* issue.

Don’t let this be Kony 2013 (albeit without the public masturbation). Take a little time to look up where the photo you’re sharing on Facebook came from, and what it represents. I support marriage equality, and I fight for marriage equality, but I don’t do so at the expense of the marginalised. Or at least I try not to—privilege is a tricky thing to have.

As a community, the queers have not historically been good at including minorities. Queer spaces worldwide and in New Zealand are heavily male-dominated, cis-dominated and white-dominated. Those of us who are privileged (and I am using the word privilege here to refer to
an institutionalised advantage or set of advantages, not having a nice car, though that can be part of it) have a duty to ensure that, in campaigning for our own rights we are not trampling over the rights, of others like the HRC does.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Geraint Scott says:

    Preach it

  2. K says:

    Being a person of racial minority in both White and non-White queer spaces, I’d like to point out that the statement: “As a community, the queers have not historically been good at including minorities” remain true in the latter queer spaces as well. To give a quick example, Southeast Asian queer spaces too show dominance of males, the cis-gendered and the racial majorities of the wider ASEAN.

  3. Megan says:

    Note that US HRC != NZ HRC. The Human Rights Commission is a wonderful organisation that works actively with queer people in New Zealand to identify issues and put pressure on government and other organisations to further queer rights.

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