The Fine Art of Grumbling: The LGBT Community and Obama


It seems a sad state of affairs, but the LGBT community is increasingly upset with what they see as a lack of action in Washington on some of our key issues such as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Marriage Equality, and a whole laundry list of other items. Having been in the wilderness for eight years through the Bush years, we were all like wanderers in the desert that had stumbled upon Oasis Obama, where hope hung heavy from the trees, and we once again felt welcomed under the shade of the big tent. Obama had promised (or implied) a lot, and maybe we were doing a lot of reading between the lines and wishful thinking. However, it’s not like a magic wand can be waved and everything changes overnight. And in political terms 100 days is still a very short time, and face it, the man has some things on his plate.

But in practical terms aren’t we just where we need to be politically? Face it, if Obama came out and granted a whole wish-list on LGBT issues, we’d all be dancing in the streets, but his opponents would have a field day, he’d be mired in cultural warfare that would distract from his main focuses at this point – that’s just a political reality. I for one, still put finding a new job over finding a new husband – but that’s just me.

Plus Obama’s been getting some free breathing room on Marriage equality from the various wins on the state level. The community feels we’re making progress on some fronts at least. But face it, as much as we hate to be reminded, we are a minority and in some circles considered a special interest group – though I’d argue that human and civil rights and what it says about our society have very broad implications. It’s like we pulled that deli ticket and got our number in line, and we were next, then the manager has to run to the back to handle a grease fire. We’re still standing there at the counter, looking through the glass at the roast beef, and we can almost taste it.

So if we have to be a squeaky wheel, if we have to grumble, to complain, to editorialize and condemn – so be it. The political reality is that Obama can’t be seen “giving” us anything freely – that really, really sucks. So if things have to be done quietly, carefully, and in small rationed measures – that’s a hard pill to swallow. We don’t want to be anyone’s bitch, not even Obama’s. We may even have to be pushy, remind him of promises, and insist. Yes, I’d like for there to have been a repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell during the first week, with Rose Garden ceremonies, with Obama backed by teary eyed vets, but if it’s done later, quietly, timed just so; the results are the same. If anything I trust that Obama is a thoughtful, considerate, and intelligent man. More than any other president I feel that he’s got people working on issues, pulling together plans, waiting for just the right opportunity to implement changes.

I have to admit, personally, I’m so used to being ignored, attacked, and maligned by the party in power, I don’t know how to act, what to expect. So, if we win an issue by grumbling and having to catch a bone that’s thrown to us, so be it for now. But let’s not also forget that we need to lay ground work now, build the cases, put the faces out there, so that when the economy turns around, and we’ve dug ourselves somewhat out of this whole we’re in, we can switch from fixing what’s broke with America, to building on the promises of America.