Friday, July 22, 2005

The Pink Triangle Project: A Modest Proposal

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #265, July 22, 2005)

The recent Pride celebrations (leather and GLBT) were both great, energizing experiences. I’d like to share a line of thought that occurred to me while I was basking in the afterglow.

For awhile now we’ve been hearing that the GLBT acronym has been widened to GLBTA: Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans and Allies.

That’s the society we’re trying to build—a society where every sexuality is accepted (not just tolerated, but actually accepted and honored) and no sexuality is discriminated against.

Well, if you ask me, the leather/BDSM/kink community could serve as a prototype, model and mentor to society at large, because we’ve already evolved into that kind of society. That idea brings up several points.

At a recent Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus concert, the chorus sang a song called “Not In Our Town,” about what happened in 1993 in Billings, Montana when white supremacists started committing hate crimes against minorities there.

There wasn’t much reaction at first. Then, one night during the holiday season, a cinder block was thrown through a window displaying a menorah.

The town’s residents responded by displaying paper menorahs in a window of almost every home, whether the people who lived there were Jewish or not.

The owner of a sporting-goods store posted a message outside his store that quickly became a rallying cry: “Not in Our Town. No Hate. No Violence. Peace on Earth.”

That’s what I call having allies.

I also read recently that when the Nazis invaded Denmark and ordered the Jews there to identify themselves by wearing a yellow Star of David, the response of the Danish people was that everyone started wearing the Star of David, whether or not they were Jewish.

It’s good to have allies.

I recently heard Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mom, talk to members of several GLBT employee groups in Minneapolis. She talked about the importance of coming out, and also of having everyone who knows us come out as having a lesbian daughter, gay uncle, transgender teacher or whatever.

If the Danes could all don Stars of David to protest the Nazis’ discrimination and hate, and if the people of Billings, Montana could photocopy, color and display thousands of menorahs, what would happen if we in the Twin Cities, in Minnesota, in the United States of America—gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transpeople and allies alike—all started wearing pink triangles?

Maybe armbands would be a bit much, but how about cloisonne pink-triangle lapel pins? Even if we ourselves don’t happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, what would happen if we wore a pink triangle as a show of solidarity with and support for those who are?

Would that be like the menorah in the window of all those homes in Billings, Montana? It would.

Would that send the same message, that hate and discrimination is not wanted, not welcome and will not be tolerated coming from the mouths of our political leaders and our religious leaders? It would.

Would that mess with people’s minds, when they see a happily married woman or man—whom they’ve known for years, with children at home, an usher in church on Sundays—wearing a pink triangle? It would. And that would be good.

Would things change? I think they would.

So, I hereby call for the start of a movement—an ongoing, quiet demonstration. I think the leather/BDSM community should be among the leaders—or, if you will, the instigators.

Wear a pink triangle. Wear it all the time. Wear it proudly. When people look shocked and say, “I didn’t know you were gay,” either tell them, “Well, I am” or tell them, “Well, I’m not—but I have a lot of friends who are, and I don’t like seeing them discriminated against.”

Pink triangle pins are out there. Everybody doesn’t have to wear the same one. But wear one. Be a proud GLBT person or become an honorary one. In the short run it might be uncomfortable. In the long run, it will be much more comfortable for everyone, when society doesn’t spend all that energy on hate and can use it for better things.

No hate. No violence. Not in our town. Not in our state. Not in our country. Not in our world.

Peace on Earth. Debuts

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For the last ten years this Leather Life column has appeared in Lavender Magazine, and for the last several years the current column also has been available at <>.

Now, your humble columnist is pleased to announce the launch of <>, a new online community resource that will feature the Leather Life Library, an archive of past Leather Life columns and other writings. (New columns will continue to first appear in print and online exclusively at <>.)

<> also will include Leather Lens galleries of previously unpublished leather photos. Currently on display: the 2005 editions of International Mr. Leather, International Ms Leather and Minnesota Leather Pride.

Other features of <> will be audio files, links, a blog and more. More columns, photos and other features will be added constantly, so bookmark the site and visit often.