Okay, so I'm sure everyone knows the deal. Obama was all "I need to make sure Hillary doesn't win the black heartland vote so I'm gonna go on a gospel tour" and then someone was all "Wait a minute Obama, isn't that guy Reverend McClurkin that you're touring with a giant homophobe who has said fucked up things about gay people?" and then a bunch of people were all "Obama we are appalled and we demand that you kick this guy off your gospel tour immediately" and then Obama was all "I'm not gonna do that but what I will do is add an openly gay minister to the same tour so that everyone's views are fairly represented" and a bunch of gay rights people were all "Noooooo that's not goooood enough, you have betrayed us and WE ARE NOT VOTING FOR YOU!" and then Dan Savage was all "I am feeling reactive today."
Ok, people, here's the deal. There are a lot of fucking people in this country that do not agree with us (that would be you, me, and Barack Obama) that gay rights are important and should be upheld. There are a lot of fucking people in this country that think that being gay is just plain wrong. Is it fucked up to think that? Yes, in my opinion it is. So I think that we can all agree that the most important thing that we can work towards is getting the people who are intolerant of homosexuality to become increasingly tolerant of homosexuality, so that, ultimately, these people will support gay rights. Homophobic people do not need to be defeated--they need to be educated.
Let's quickly run through an alternate scenario. Let's say Obama did kick McClurkin off the gospel tour. Now imagine all the people who are fans of McClurkin and likely not huge fans of homosexuality. They'd be all "Hey, how come McClurkin's not on the tour anymore? I really like that guy." And then someone would be all "Because the gay rights people demanded that he be kicked off."
Pop quiz: which response do you think would be most prevalent?
A: "Well gee, I've never really cared much for homosexuality seeing as how my religion condemns it and all...but now that gay rights advocates have ruined my gospel tour I think that maybe I will be more open-minded in the future."
B: "FUCK those gay people! (Only we mean that figuratively because we are not into sex with gay people, and also not at all because we do not say the F-word.)"
Here's a clue for those that desperately need it: Bringing together McClurkin fans and fans of the gay minister in the same crowd to watch an inspiriting gospel show that is tolerant not only of different lifestyles but also of different beliefs about those lifestyles is perhaps the single most progressive thing that a politician or public figure could have done in that situation to advance the gay rights movement in America today. It reeks of sheer, unadulterated brilliance. In fact, I think that this whole debacle is a fucking blessing--and the only reason it turned out that way is because Barack Obama is smart enough to know that when you take sides with one constituency, everyone loses.
I am not going to try to say it better than the letter released today by Obama's campaign from 16 supporters in both the African American and LGBT communities:
"We believe that Barack Obama is constructing a tent big enough for LGBT Americans who know that their sexual orientation is an innate and treasured part of their being, and for African American ministers and citizens who believe that their religion prevents them from fully embracing their gay brothers and sisters. And if we are to confront our shared challenges we have to join together, build on common ground, and engage in a civil dialogue even when we disagree.
We also ask Senator Obama’s critics to consider the alternatives. Would we prefer a candidate who ignores the realities in the African American community and cuts off millions of Blacks who believe things offensive to many Americans? Or a panderer who tells African Americans what they want to hear, at the expense of our gay brothers and sisters? Or would we rather stand with Barack Obama, who speaks truth in love to both sides, pulling no punches but foreclosing no opportunities to engage?"