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Prop. 8 and Its Effects on Homophobia, Racism and Faith-phobia

October 5th, 2009, byMATT PALAZZOLO

The passage of Proposition 8 in California led to a dramatically increased awareness of homophobia around the country as well as the launch of a new generation of activists.

What I didn’t realize until recently, though, is that Prop. 8 was also a unique catalyst in battling racism and faith-phobia.

Following the LGBTQ (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer) community’s sometimes racist reactions to false reports that the African American community overwhelmingly supported Prop. 8 as well as faith-phobic language written on picket signs in reaction to the Mormon Church’s key financial support of the November ballot measure, it became shockingly clear that the ugliness of prejudice lives within the LGBTQ community.

In addition, the general consensus of the LGBTQ community is that part of what doomed the “No on 8″ campaign was its inability to work with both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ communities of color and faith.

Since then, in the battle to win marriage equality back in California, a large emphasis has been placed on building those inter-community relationships. These relationships are being built very purposefully – an LGBTQ People of Color Collective has been formed in Los Angeles – and sometimes by accident. The fact that so many places of faith offer their space for LGBTQ organizing has led me to enter a place of faith more times this past year than in my entire life.

A great example of how the battle for marriage equality is breaking down prejudices is the group, Vote For Equality. The marriage equality canvassing effort, run out of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, meets every other weekend and brings together a broad base of individuals and organizations to go door-to-door in neighborhoods across L.A.

The organizers and canvassers include people of many ethnic, faith, & sexual/gender identities. These canvasses often occur in communities of color, and more often than not, a local church hosts the canvass home-base.

Whether one is knocking on doors, answering a knock at the door, or is a member of the church hosting the canvass, everyone is having personal, one-on-one conversations with people of a different ethnic background, a different faith, and a different sexual or gender identity. On any given canvass up to 45% of voters not supportive of marriage equality change their minds.

After canvassing in South L.A. I was able to see firsthand how many LGBTQ people had conquered the “myth of the gay-black divide.” And since the passage of Prop. 8 I have welcomed people of faith back into my life for the first time since I was scorned as an openly gay teenager.

It’s not a one-sided effort, though. In light of Prop. 8, a Mormon group, The Foundation of Reconciliation, will held a memorial for gay suicides at a Latter-Day Saints conference last weekend.

So barriers are being removed. Understanding is being extended from each corner of the table to the other.

And to those who led the way in passing Proposition 8 I would like to say thank you for reminding us how much work we all still have to do.

Matt Palazzolo is a co-founder of the Equal Roots Coalition, a grassroots organization dedicated to winning LGBTQ equality.

(Photo by Tony Miller)

  • Audrey

    Matt you are so awesome!! From founding Equal Roots to producting/directing/starring in short films to helping others and being a great/understanding/wonderful friend to graduating from college in 3 years I am so proud of your efforts and I think you will make a great politican one day :) i love all the work that you’ve done for the LGBTQ community and more!!!

  • Eric

    Yes on 8!! We are just making a honest effort to save people’s soul from the devil! God is against gays. If you are gay you are God’s enemy!

  • melanie nathan

    Have you ever heard that expression “A fox smells his own hole.” Well taht is how I feel about people like Eric, smelling his own hole and clearly the devils at home! That said I wrote an interesting experience with prop 8 and its impact on my child on my BLOG – please feel free to take a look and Eric you are welcome to comment too http://wp.me/pqRPa-se Thanks Matt for your post. referred by Madison on Facebook.

  • JWN

    Phobias are un-founded fears. Most genuine Christians have a healthy fear of displeasing God, not a morbid fear of sinners. We feel the same regarding drunkenness, lying, child molestation, incest, fornication, etc…yet no one would say we are “forni-phobic”, “drunki-phobic”, “pedo-phobic” and so on. If these organized into international groups overtly flaunting their sin, then the reaction would be the same. Speaking only for myself, “homo-disgusted” may be more accurately descriptive.
    JWN

Last modified: May 4, 2011 at 10:02 pm