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Pet Sins May 2000 Issue
Oppression from within and without the glbt community in the US

Things have come a long way since Stonewall. Most glbt Americans living in metro areas today no longer have a constant fear being beaten, tortured and/or sexually assaulted by police or members of 'mainstream' society, tragedies that occured with unfortunate regularity in earlier decades. Unfortunately, the work is far from done, as shown in GayLiberation.net's recent listing of police brutality allegations and Amnesty Interntional's report Brutality in Blue.

The experience of being a marginalized minority has helped many glbt individuals empathize with the challenges faced by other socially disadvantaged groups, such as women and ethnic minorities. But the truth is, glbt individuals are still shaped from birth by the social messages of mainstream society, no matter how far we feel from that 'mainstream' and how much we decide not to identify with it. Sexism and racism are as much part of our social conditioning as they are part of the social conditioning of the homophobes who oppress us.

Being marginalized, some of us marginalized others in turn, and not always with conscious intent. If, each time we complain that we are ignored, judged unfairly or insulted because of our identity or orientation, we can also ask ourselves if we have done anything remotely similar to someone else, perhaps a fellow glbt of another ethnic group or a different gender expression, or just people unlike us in general, perhaps we can make a little progress in making the world a better place to live, or at least stop contributing towards making it a worse one.