Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Politics Begins at Home

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Politics Begins at Home

Article excerpt

In the late-1970s era of New Wave music, a singer named Lene Lovich wrote a song called "Home." It began, "Home is where the heart is / Home is so remote / Home is just emotion / Sticking in my throat / Let's go to your place / Let's go to your place." That song strikes me as the perfect metaphor for the relationship many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people have had to those complicated places we call home. Lovich had it right: GLBT people have very complex feelings about the many places we came from--our families of origin, the towns and communities in which we grew up, sometimes the countries we emigrated from--and these have often been difficult places for us to embrace. There is pain and struggle attached to their memory. Our attachment to home is complicated because homophobia for many of us began at home and in our hometowns--at the dinner table, on the neighborhood playground, in the school yard at recess, in our churches and synagogues.

For years we have said to each other, "Get me out of here--I cannot wait to leave. Let's go to your place." Millions of us moved away from our rural and small-town homes to urban centers. We made these cities our new homes, and we maintained an uneasy tie to the places of our birth and childhood memories, to the families and communities that could not contain our sexual identities despite their urgent efforts. Sometimes we made domestic, private home lives that provided havens. Our home was private, personal, about safety and comfort and beauty. The dirty world of gay politics was somewhere else--in Washington, D.C., in New York City, not on our block or in our suburban neighborhood or in our parents' houses.

I think this relationship to home began to change in the late 1980s with the second national march on Washington (held in 1987) and with the transformation AIDS made in many of our lives and in the construction of gay communities. The 1987 march and the AIDS epidemic energized millions of GLBT people who had never considered themselves activist or political. Hundreds of local and state organizations were formed after 1988; today's statewide political organizations really began to take shape in the early '90s. …

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