02 May 2013

Wrapped In Lavender Paper

"He's not our President. He's not a Black President."

So said an African-American student of mine.  He believes that Obama has "sold out" black people on issues like immigration.  Also, he says, the President is "in the pocket" of banks and other financial service companies. "Who has profited more than they at the expense of black people?," my student wonders.

In brief, "it's no longer enough for a candidate simply to be black," he says.  

I'm thinking of my conversation with him after reading an article in this week's Village Voice.  In it, Steve Weinstein points out that not all LGBT people are happy that Christine Quinn will most be elected (in a landslide) the Mayor of New York City later this year.  Part of the reason for this is that many LGBT people will vote for her because she is "one of our own": essentially, the same reason why 95 percent of black voters pulled the lever for Obama in 2008 and last year.

However, as blogger Joe Jervis--a.k.a. JoeMyGod- points out, "In New York City, even Republican candidates are right on about gay issues".  Indeed, one of that party's Mayoral candidates, Joseph Lhota,who previously served as chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and a Deputy Mayor for Rudolph Giuliani, has publicly supported Federal legalization of same-sex marriage. "The best part of New York City is its diversity," he says. " You gotta celebrate it.  You really do."

Now, of course, there's more to being in favor of LGBT equality than supporting same-sex marriage.  (As I've said in previous posts, I support it only because it's the best solution available under the current system. I really believe that governments should not have any power to define marriage and bestow benefits based upon it.) It also means being on the right side of a number of other issues which aren't specifically labelled as "LGBT issues" but nonetheless affect our lives. And that is where Christine Quinn, during her term as Speaker of the City Council, has failed.

For one thing, just as she and a host of other Council Members--and Mayor Michael Bloomberg--were reaching the end of their term limits.  After that vote, she could no longer even pretend to be "adversarial" toward the Mayor or other city power brokers.  Instead, her pandering to him not only brought him and her a third term in office; it also meant that he would help grease the wheels that could carry her into City Hall.

From then on, she also made, or helped to make, deals with some of the city's realtors and financial services companies that have further accelerated the displacement of poor, elderly and "minority"--including LGBT people.  It led to, among other things, the closing of St. Vincent's hospital, which will be turned into luxury housing. 

And, along the way, she also committed what is, in my book, one of her worst sins:  She supported the NYPD's "stop and frisk" policy. Its critics point out, rightly, that young black and Latino males are disproportionately stopped.  But so have transgender people, especially male-to-female. I have talked to more one MTF who was stopped and harassed early one afternoon as she was waiting for a bus in a Greenwich Village residential area and have heard similar stories from others.  Indeed, one hot day early in my life as Justine,I was stopped as I was riding my bike home from work.

She has also done other things that some could (with justification, I believe) see as "selling out" the LGBT community, especially trans people.  For that reason, they (and I) concur with veteran gay rights activist Bill Dobbs, who calls her "a classic old-style machine politician wrapped in lavender paper".


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