Boy if ever a post was going to get me in trouble right? Just hear (well, read) me out is all I ask. I made several posts on Facebook about how happy I was that gay marriage passed in New York. One of my blog readers messaged me on Facebook and said “I love your blog and I think everyone should read it. I noticed that you talked about transgender rights a few posts ago and I saw that you are FBing about supporting gay marriage. I agree with you but I’m worried that your open support of gays and transgender people will lose readers who might otherwise like your blog.”
Huh. I hadn’t really thought of that. But there was no time to think about it because I was going to see Hairspray at Zach Scott Theater with my friends – a gay couple and a lesbian.
Hairspray is a musical that deals with oppression. It takes place in the sixties in the midst of desegregation. It also talks about fat politics – the main character is a fat, white girl who is a great dancer and makes it onto a television show. After befriending some of the black students from school she begins to work for desegregation, even being jailed for protesting and risking her dream of being on television.
One of my favorite songs comes from this movie. It’s called “I Know Where I’ve Been”. It’s sung by a character who is both black and fat, and it is the story of the journey to that point in black civil rights and the journey yet to come. The full song is below, my favorite lyrics are:
There’s a road
We must travel
There’s a promise
That we must make
But the riches
Will be plenty
Worth the risk
And chances we take
There’s a dream
In the future
There’s a struggle
That we have yet to win…
I know where i’m going
Lord knows i know
Where i’ve been
I’m not sure that there was a dry eye in the house when the song was over. As I looked around at a diverse audience that included (among others) fat people, gay people, and black people and people who were some combination of the three, I realized that we were all crying a little for ourselves and our journeys, and that a lot of us were crying for each other. And that is as it should be. Obviously I can’t know what it is like to be black during desegregation (or ever) but I hope that I would have had the courage to do whatever was in my power to help at that time, whether or not it lost me the sixties equivalent of blog readers.
So the answer to the well meaning Facebook message is that I believe that even if my readers assume that I’m straight, they understand me when I say that fat people are a better witness to our own experience than people who seek to oppress us, that studies show that I couldn’t change (lose weight) even if I wanted to, and that I don’t believe that I’m a gluttonous sinner. And whether or not they agree with me, I think that they wouldn’t expect me to by a hypocrite who turns around and uses those same tools of oppression on gay people (or anyone else for that matter). As a bisexual woman I’ve had to deal with gay people who get completely pissed when someone says that being gay is a choice and that they could be straight if they want to, but then tell me that bisexuality doesn’t exist and that I need to “pick one”, but that’s another post for another blog.
Oppression is a horrible thing and rather than spending our time trying to decide who is more oppressed (or worse, arguing that we don’t deserve to be oppressed but those people over there do) let’s spend our time seeking out oppression and destroying it every chance we get, each in our own way.
Here is that song. Enjoy. (This is the full scene, the song starts around :50)