Welcome to the newest edition of The Why. “Why should people take down their rainbow flag on Facebook?” Good question. (Truth is, some folks might not want to hear the answer but since when has that ever stopped us?)
Since the official announcement of the Supreme Court’s approval of same-sex marriage, 26 million peeps on Facebook have overlain their Facebook profile pic with semitransparent rainbow stripes. This is a feature Facebook created to reportedly “celebrate gay pride.”
Yours truly saw this as little different than the giraffe game or cars in southern California suddenly sprouting L.A. Lakers flags when the team is winning the playoffs. To confirm or deny this, we brought in guest speaker Peter Moskowitz contributor to The Washington Post and gay man.
Moskowitz said when he first saw this on Facebook it made him feel “uncomfortable.” He says: “Gay pride was something I struggled to gain.”
He adds: “I’ve earned the right to claim pride through years of internal strife over my sexuality. Others have died . . . more still have been jailed . . . (and) disowned by their families for it. Gay pride is not something you can claim by waving a flag. The rainbow symbol is easy to co-opt, but the experience it represents is not.”
That’s why to some in the gay community could care less and some are actually offended when they see Facebook profile pics draped in rainbows. Moskowitz says it doesn’t prove anyone actually understands his struggle. It feels like it’s “cheapening it.” In too many cases they’re “celebrating a victory they had no part in winning.”
Moskowitz is uncomfortable because he himself admits that it’s trendy. It’s “popular and politically expedient to raise the rainbow flag for marriage equality, since 60 percent of Americans support it.”
Some claim that “slacktivism” like this still “promotes awareness, motivates people to take action and could subtly persuade opponents of same-sex marriage to change their views.” Nope. A study completed last year reveals that folks who make these token gestures often do it because they’re trying to improve their public image free of making any real effort.
Moskowitz confirms that by using the Facebook feature many are claiming to understand “a struggle they do not actually know. When millions of people cloak themselves in a symbol without understanding what it means, they dilute that symbol’s power.”
Yes, the LGBT is a minority–four different minorities actually. Without allies they’d have to live the rest of their lives dealing with the world as it is. Still, as Moskowitz concludes: “Holding up a victory flag without acquiring the battle scars is an empty gesture at best.”
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