I’ve just read today one of the best essays I’ve read in a very long time. Honestly, I think it’s one for the ages. It was written by Saeed Jones for Buzzfeed. Here’s the link:
And with this essay, I think Saeed shows why he’s on this list:
Why do I rate it so highly? Well, first of all, it has some of the most important attributes of essays: clarity, great sentence structure, and an inexorable march to its point. Saeed’s point is that the huge upswell in support for gay rights has primarily benefitted the lighter, the brighter, and the wealthier. For much of the LGBT community, America doesn’t love them yet.
A quick quote:
“To put it more bluntly: The only thing more dangerous than a bigot is a coward dressed as an ally.”
This is where the essay takes a turn for the universal. Immediately, it brought to mind the struggles in NOW to get straight, white, well-educated, upper middle class women to understand the issues affecting differently working class, women of color, lesbians–anyone who didn’t look like Donna Reed, whose liberation was only a doorknob turn away. I don’t mean to make light of Betty Friedan’s “girdle on our heads” generation or their problems; it took some courage for a wealthy friend, a stay-at-home mom during her children’s childhoods, to say to her husband, when he objected to her slightly off-color language: “If I can’t say it, I won’t do it.” But not as much courage as it took for an African-American friend to walk away from her husband and become a single mom when all her friends said, if he’s working, stick with him. Not all our hills are as steep, you know?
My point is that lesbians, transponders, women of color, and working class women have had to fight for their liberation within the women’s movement, and that is an ongoing struggle. To understand how much is still to be done, look at this recent news story:
What I love most about the Saeed Jones essay, though, is that it centers on love. That’s right. LOVE.
The most quotable line, which I think you’ll hear again and again, is this:
“Being who you are is not revolutionary, but love — the kind of love that says, “You are not like me and that is exactly why I am fighting for your right to live freely” — that is the revolution itself.”
Exactly. The civil rights movement, with its ideal of the Beloved Community, brought home that message. Saeed Jones has just brought it back for a new generation.