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We won and we lost. Obama winning helped to put one piece of injustice to sleep. But injustice is still with us. Discrimination is still lurking in the laws. Liberty is still for the select few. Freedom is still not for all of us. Equality still hunts us down like we were on cotton plantations.

Because “they” are still not allowed to get married. “They” are still held as second class citizens. Tell me? Who the hell are “they”?

Bullshit. Bullshit I tell you.

It’s like playing that whack-the-mole game. You hit one piece of bigotry on the head and another one pops up. Whack! Whack! Whack! It never stops. But unlike the game, we can’t pull the plug on bigotry. Their batteries get charged by their own hatred.

Look. I am REALLY getting sick and tired of this. There is no “they”.

There. Is. No. They.

There is only us. “They” are you who are bigots. The only people who are “they” are those who preach hatred. Hatred for gays, hatred for Africans, hatred for African-Americans, hatred for rednecks, hatred for Jews, hatred for Muslims, hatred for Christians, hatred for… and more hatred and more hatred and more hatred.

You! Yes you! Bigot! That one who hates gays. Or who doesn’t want “them” to have the same rights as everyone else. All that separates you from burning “them” on a cross is some wood and matches. All that separates you from strapping a bomb to your chest and blowing them up is a book in your hand and a different language. Bigotry is bigotry. Hatred is hatred. It’s only the degrees that differ.

You think you are so different from those who kill innocent people elsewhere in the name of a jihad? You think you are so different from those policemen who killed Biko? You think you are so different from the Christians who murdered during the Crusade? You think you are so different from those who flew those planes? You think you are so different from those who kept slaves on the plantations? Who burned people at stakes? You think you are better than a Hutu or a Tutsi? You think you are better than the priests leading Jesus to the cross?

You are not. You are no better. You are separated only by the degrees of action. You speak the same language. You spew the same hatred. You can cloak it in nice words. But so did Hitler. So did Pontius Pilot. So did PW Botha. So did Mao. So did Stalin. So did everyone who believed they were better than “the others”.

You are no better than those who killed and murdered. You are them. Separated by a small degree of heat. A small step. One action separates you. Just one. They are your brothers. Your keepers. In thought and prayer.

Don’t ever call me straight. I am not straight. I am me. Who I sleep with and who I love has nothing to do with you. It has nothing to do with my bad fashion sense. It has nothing to do with my anger. It has nothing to do with defining who I am inside.

I have no choice about who I am. I am because we are. I have no choice about being straight. I have no choice about being gay. I am just me. Like the color of my skin is not my choice. And my gender is not my choice. Or where I was born was not my choice. It is who I am. We should not be defined by these parts of who we are. We should be defined by our love and compassion for others and for ourselves.

Hell, if I had a choice I would not have chosen to be a pale heterosexual male. Except for the fact that it helped me find the love of my life it is nothing to be proud of. It is nothing special. In fact, I don’t like many of those who look like me. Hitler, Bush, Stalin, Verwoerd – all white males proclaiming to be straight. Too many bigots wear the same “clothes”.

I don’t ever want to be defined as heterosexual. I don’t. Because I am not. I am just a person who met another person and who loves. It could have been anyone. It just happened to be someone from the opposite gender. I didn’t make the choice to love her. It just happened.

That’s all I want the world to have. Just to feel the same love I feel. I don’t care who you are. Jew, Christian, gay, Muslim, straight, male, female, black, white, Chinese, Russian. I don’t care.

I. Don’t. Care.

All I want is “us” to all feel love. And see a better future together. As us. Not as “them” and “us”. There is only us in this world. All of us.

There is no such thing as a “gay issue”. Any injustice is my issue. Our injustice. Any limitation on freedom is a limitation of my freedom. Our freedom. Any inequality takes away my equality. Our equality. Any time the liberty of others are restricted then my liberty is restricted. Our liberty. Any place love is threatened my love is threatened. Our love. There can be no “others”. There can be no “gay issue”. There is only my issues. And our issues. We all have freedom, liberty, equality, justice, life, love and opportunity. Or I have none. I am not gay. But I am gay. 

I am the “gay issue”. We are the “gay issue”.

Because… I am because we are.

All of us. I am us. I am the “we”.

We will not fail each other. Because there is no gay issue. There is only an us issue.

 

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A few other posts of mine looking at the “gay issue”:

The “gay problem” or The Idiot’s Guide to Bigotry

The Gay Agenda

And one more thing

How to solve the “gay marriage problem”

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A friend of mine just passed me this link to something Keith Olbermann had to say on gay marriages. I missed it completely as I don’t watch enough telly. But it seems as if Keith and myself have more in common than what I thought. Go watch what he had to say. It is long. But it is worth it. His questions are very similar to mine. Just more eloquently put…

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It happened in 1995. The awakening…

I was driving back from Cape Town to my home in Stellenbosch. Part of my regular commute. I was working at the Labour Research Service (LRS) in Salt River on the outskirt of Cape Town. The rougher outskirts of Cape Town. The LRS was one of those small nonprofits that supported the trade unions and the liberation organizations during the Apartheid years. Apartheid ended, but the work never stopped. Workers still needed us. Discrimination still happened. And I was working with and for a Pan-Africanist trade union federation – the National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU). But I digress…

Driving this road was never a nice road. Just a week earlier my wallet got stolen by two guys. Some would call it stupidity on my behalf. You know, picking up hitch hikers. Or rather leaving my wallet open for them to take. I saw two guys hitch hiking and I decided to give them a lift. I used to hitch hike a lot myself. I knew how crap it was to stand in the road begging for a lift. Time running out. Cold winds. No sign of life outside those people sitting snug in their cars. Yeah, I gave them a lift. And they stole my wallet.

Oh, nothing happened to me. I had a habit of just throwing my wallet on the backseat whenever I drove anywhere. You know, just flip it on the backseat when I get in the car. Not thinking. Just a standard thing to do.

And I left it there without thinking. Like I always do. They took it without me even knowing. Or noticing. Oh they were nice guys. We had a good chat. Laughing and joking like all good South Africans do when they get close enough to poke fun at everyone and everything. I guess they saw my wallet as payment for the entertainment they provided. I don’t think they were that funny…

The money wasn’t much. I hardly ever have loads of cash on me. A minor inconvenience really. But it was a principle thing. You don’t steal. Full stop. So I decided to not pick up any more hitch hikers. Yes, unfortunately many people were going to stand a little bit longer because one dude in a car just got pulled off the assembly line of lift givers. I didn’t feel too crap about the decision. I made it and lived with it.

And now it was a week later. I was just driving me old car. Singing away to the Cat Steven tape that has been stuck in my radio since 1990. Yes. I know Cat Steven off by heart. Not because I wanted to or that I liked him that much, but because I couldn’t remove the bloody tape. It was stuck. And I just didn’t see spending the little money we had on fixing my car radio. Thank God the tape deck was one of those automatic switch-over gadgets. Or else I would have been stuck on the same side forever (Rewind-play, rewind-play…) So Cat Stevens it was.

The ride went smoothly. Like usual. Lost in my own little world. Not getting pissed off at anyone else on the road. Entertaining myself by singing out loud. Or making dancing moves in the car. Or pulling funny faces. Sometimes looking in the mirror to see if it was a good one or not. And sometimes just waving at people driving past me at a much faster speed.

And then I saw the guy. Hitch hiking. Just standing next to the road with his thumb sticking out. He looked like a typical hitch hiker. Normal clothes and a cap. No luggage. I didn’t pick him up. I didn’t even think of picking him up. The thought never crossed my mind. Not even for a minute.

So I drove on…

About a mile or two later I saw another guy with his thumb out. Hitch hiking. Just a normal guy. Normal clothes and a hat. No luggage. I looked at him as I approached and thought whether I should pick him up or not. Just for a split second. Nothing more than a split second. But I didn’t pick hm up. I drove past him without even looking. But for a split second… For a split second I thought about it…

I didn’t think about it for the next few miles. And then it hit me. Like a ton of bricks. Like someone just knocked me one hard one in the stomach. Cold water tipped over my head. Blood draining from my system…

Damn you! Damn me!

I am a racist…

And I didn’t even know it.

Why?

…The one guy was black… and the other guy was white…

I didn’t pick up either. But I did think of picking up the second guy. It never crossed my mind with the first on. Not even for a split second. Not even for a blink. Okay, it wasn’t a deep thought of picking the second guy up. It was only a flash for a split second. But still… That flash was a split second of thinking of picking the guy up. I rejected the idea immediately. But the point is that I did have a flash with the second guy and not the first guy.

So I am a racist.

Me. The guy who worked for the only pan-Africanist trade union federation in South Africa. The trade union federation who has never employed a white guy in their whole history up to then. A guy who fought the Apartheid system and all the discrimination that went with that. The guy who fought racism at each and every corner. The guy who saw Steve Biko as his man. I made no distinction between white or black. I hated racism. Banned it from even getting close to my kids. I had relationships that was never defined by race. I fought racism since I left my past behind. It has been the one thing that could get me going since my personal “liberation” started. I spoke out against it. Tackled people in the streets about it. I could look in the mirror and tell myself, “I am not a racist”. Hell, I even had a nickname given to me by NACTU – Umlungu (White bastard). I was drenched in anti-racism actions and fighting racism.

But here I was. A racist. And I didn’t even know it.

Which of the hitch hikers was white? Which one was black? What color was the guys I picked up and who stole my wallet? Does it matter? Is it relevant? Really? Isn’t that just justifying my racism? Isn’t that just shifting blame?

Racists. Easy to see. Racist are those people who are bigots. Or so we believe.

Racism. Easy to see. You’ll know it when you see it. Or so we believe.

No. Racists are not always that easy to see. It’s deeply rooted. It’s not something you just switch off. It hides in corners where you can’t see. It’s something you have to work on. You can overcome it. Racism is not part of the natural you. You weren’t born racist. But it is still deeply rooted like a weed when you grow up amongst racists and are taught the racist way when you are young. But it can be overcome. The more you open up. The more you talk about it. The more you look at yourself. The more you face the mirror.

It’s looking back each day and check on yourself. Looking in the mirror each day and ask yourself, “Was I just today?” And judging yourself not as a negative, but to look for those little hidden bigots inside you. And to fight them until they are out of your system. It’s something you should embrace.

Make no mistake. I am not hard on myself about this. I see this as a huge plus. Something I look forward to each day. To face that stupid bigot inside. And then laugh at him and to say, “Cheers, you are out of here”. Embrace it. And celebrate it. Because tomorrow I won’t do that. I won’t have that flash. Each day is about making it a little better.

I have managed to kill that racist inside. He is gone. No more. It feels good. But it’s not just race. It’s how we treat women. It’s how we treat the kids. How we look at the guy dressed in a hoodie, baseball cap and bling who looks like a gangster. How we stare at the women with the short skirt. It’s how we treat the guy begging in the streets. That gay couple down the road walking hand in hand. Or how we treat that person working behind the counter at Wal-Mart. It’s how we treat that worker in the factory. It’s how we treat the farmer in the fields. It’s everything we do. And it is in all of us. Black or white. Gay or straight. Men and women. We all have a little bigot or two inside us.

Bigotry is taught in different ways to us all. Those words our parent told us, “Study hard and you will get a good job. You don’t have to be caught in this life. You are better than this. You can do better than this.” That’s where it starts. When we start telling ourselves that somehow earning more money or having a bigger house make us better. Better than what?

Liberate yourself. Look at the mirror. Smile at the bigot. Because each day he is getting closer to extinction. Bye bye bigot. Death awaits you.

I like who I am. But I know I am going to like who I am tomorrow even more. And I can’t wait.

Are you? Because… I am because you are…

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Why did I write this piece? Because of something I read in the NY Times. It’s not a perfect article, but it reminded me that blatant racism isn’t the problem. It’s the racism we don’t see. The hidden parts that people don’t even see. The bigotry we don’t see in ourselves. It just reminded me why I use the mirror every day.

 

It’s not something we like. Well, not all of us in any case. It’s sticky. It clings to you no matter what you do. No matter how hard you try to get it off. It’s as if it has a life of its own and becomes part of you skin. And it’s white. Never a nice color on skin. It clashes with the pinkish, brownish, blackish and even purplish color of your skin. (You pick the color, but leave Barney the Dinosaur purple please.) Yes, no matter what you do, that white sticky stuff will stick to you no matter how hard you try.

I am talking about fluff. The fluff that we think is substance. But it isn’t really. It’s just fluff. Good old fluff. The stuff that looks like a lot, but it really is nothing but bubbles and a bit of icky stuff. Just blow some bubbles into the icky stuff and there you have it… Fluff… Looks like brains when you scoop it up, but it is just fluff. Nothing much. Just white fluff.

But people can get addicted to this stuff. It’s sweet. It doesn’t really fill us up. It makes us big. But it makes us look like blubber – the stuff they eat in Alaska. It looks like hot air, but it really is just bubbles. Like in bubble butt. That’s what fluff gives us. A bubble butt full of hot air. Nothing substantial. Nothing there. Empty. Full of bubbles. Hot air. But it makes us feel so good.

But the sweetness. Oh the sweetness when they stuff it down our throats. Like Kool-Aid. We love it so much we’ll help them stuff it down our throats. We love our fluff. And it makes the medicine go down so much easier. The bitter pills we have to take because we get so stuffed with fluff. Hell, they try to sell us fluff no matter where we go. In the papers, on the telly, and even political stuff on fluff.

Yeah baby! I am talking about the “What The Fluff” event that just took place over here in my little corner of the world! It’s all about the fluff over here. That white stuff we eat over here in the US of A. We didn’t go. We are not big into fluff. Or hot air.

But I heard it was fun. They had the Flufferettes there! Yep, those girls who love their fluff. Of course headed up by the big Flufferette herself. Miss Nut. The one with the yellow costume and the nut hat. No. The hat had “nut” written on it. And the yellow isn’t because she is a coward. Duh! It’s just yellow.

Mr Query must have been proud. He is as old as the mountains. Not even sure if he is still alive. But an odd name for a guy. Did it mean that he took a lot of questions? Wonder if he answered any of them. I know Ms Nut never took any questions except if you call fluttering her eyes at you and trying to look cute as an answer. Anyway, what does she really know about fluff and everything that goes on in that little glass house container the fluff comes in?

Fluff hasn’t changed much over time. It has pretty much stayed the same for the last 8 or 88 years. Just icky white stuff. Oh, they tried to throw something new in there, but it didn’t make much of a difference. All they did was throw in some nuts. But it really is still just white stuff with nuts in it. And do we really need more nuts? Some of us are allergic to nuts. It can kill you.

But I do have a question though. Why is all the fluff white? I would love to have some chocolate with mine. Can you mix the two together? It must be awesome to have a bit of a mix in there. Less nuts and more chocolate for me please. And thank you.

Heck, look! Even Fluff Boy is white! Doesn’t he just look so familiar to you? Mmm… Let me think… Hum… A young… Richie Rich! That’s it! He looks just like Richie Rich. You remember Richie Rich right? The little dude dude as rich as the stuff they use to make fluff with. You know, the one with all the houses and cars and fluff… I mean stuff?

Are you gonna have some fluff today?

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A special thanks to my friend and colleague Christine R who told me about the fluff festival that happened this weekend. We were talking about how I promised my lovely suffering wife that I will not write about politics for a few days. Christine and my wife are friends and she was more than happy to help out… Thank you Christine for showing me a topic that has nothing to do with politics at all. Like you said, “It’s just fluff…” Hehe!