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Faggots & their Friends between Revolutions (2)–Women Wisdom

   I think it’s time for another bit from this book.  There are a number of pages labeled “Women Wisdom”.  They represent various things that women have learned that they can and do teach the faggots.

 The strong women told the faggots that there are two important things to remember about the coming revolutions.  The first is that we will get our asses kicked.  The second is that we will win.

The faggots knew the first.  Faggot ass-kicking is a time-honored sport of the men.  But the faggots did not know about the second.  They had never thought about winning before.  They did not even know what winning meant.  So they asked the strong women and the strong women said winning was like surviving, only better.  As the strong women explained winning, the faggots were surprised and then excited.  The faggots knew about surviving for they always had and this was going to be just plain better.  That made ass-kicking different.  Getting your ass kicked and then winning elevated the entire enterprise of making revolution. [p. 21]

The page that I’ve quoted here has always been one of the most significant pages in the whole book for me.  Partly, it honors the women who came before, and who pioneered a vision of society that had room for people whose sexuality was expressed differently.

More important, it emphasized both that there is trouble ahead.  And looking back from here, there has been plenty of trouble for us queers in the intervening years.  But that, in the long run, truth, justice and [dare I say it] the American way will triumph.  I’m afraid that it’s too easy for me to imagine that trouble ahead means that there is no long-term possibility of success.

I’m greatly cheered by looking at the way that people of different ages respond to the “issue” of same-sex marriage.  People over fifty [except those of us who know better] purse their lips and make “tsk tsk” noises.  People in their forties and thirties dither and say “well, I’m not sure….on one hand…on the other hand…”  And people in their twenties say “what’s the big deal”….   I know I’m grossly generalizing–but the point of stereotypes is that they do have an element of truth.

And this is perhaps as good a place as I’m likely to get to thank all the hard-working feminists who came before, and whose work allowed me to see the way that gender works to reinforce the status quo.  There have been plenty of things that I have disagreed with, sometimes intensely, but I don’t think that gay people, and the notion of gay liberation, could possibly be where we are today without the pioneers from the women’s movement.

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2 Responses to “Faggots & their Friends between Revolutions (2)–Women Wisdom”

  1. Kathryn Says:

    “Winning is like surviving, only better.” Wow. What a loving and generous post, Bob. I’d forget about “the American way,” since I’m not sure we’re winning on that playing field, but I love this vision of revolution and faggots and wise women. I feel like naming some of those strong, wise women: Audre Lorde, Gloria Anzaldua, Barbara Jordan, Judy Grahn, Alice Walker, Tillie Olsen, Fannie Lou Hamer, Bernice Reagon, Pat Parker, Monique Wittig, Emma Goldman…who are some of your favorites?

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  3. Bob Says:

    Kendall, thanks for reminding me of some women that I would have forgotten to mention. Some more on my list are theorists like bell hooks and Shulamith Firestone; poets like Robin Morgan and Adrienne Rich; and musicians like Holly Near, Meg Christian, and Chris Williamson [just put the album “The Changer and the Changed” on repeat–].

    I also want to make a special “shout out” to Marie Curie [and to her daughter Eve Curie, who wrote a brilliant biography of her mother]. She was the person who exemplified the life that I wanted as a young sissy-boy…she fell in love with and married a scientist who was her intellectual equal, who became a collaborator on her work, and with whom she created a family. It has always been astounding to me the extent to which the biographies of male scientists don’t mention the fact that they [allegedly] have lives outside the laboratory.

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