June 23, 2019

From "Tales of the City," currently streaming on Netflix.

Funnily enough, when I was a teen in Southern California, my uncle used to send me Armistead Maupin's serial "Tales of the City" from the San Francisco Chronicle on a regular basis. I knew even then I wanted to move to San Francisco, because the idea of a "chosen family" of friends and neighbors who wouldn't judge me as much as I felt judged in LA appealed to me. Tales was the frothiest of soap operas, but for all the outrageousness, there was an undercurrent that the newly uncloseted Maupin felt in San Francisco in the late '70's-early '80's: an acceptance and tolerance to allow one to explore who one was.

I present this scene from the updated Tales of the City series on Netflix, because I think it exemplifies the struggle we on the left can have. To set this up, Michael Tolliver (the guy with a beard, wearing a blazer; a character from the earliest iterations) brings his new boyfriend, Ben, to a dinner party with Michael's contemporaries. Michael is in his 50s, Ben is in his 20s. When these comfortable, white gay men are snide about transpeople, Ben speaks up for them. And what he gets back is a nasty lecture about how hard those men had it in the '80s when the AIDS epidemic was raging and no one in Washington would even mention it. That these men fought so hard for dignity and their rights in a life and death struggle makes them feel entitled to say whatever they want now. Screw political correctness.

Sure, this scene depicts gay men of a certain age not supporting the trans community. But it could also just as likely be climate change activists not supporting Black Lives Matter; or Medicare For All activists not supporting immigration activists; or economic equality activists not supporting women's reproductive rights activists; or any number of the individual causes that make up the umbrella of the left. The notion that their cause is not your fight, so therefore, you don't have even give them the respect of using their preferred terminology is rampant. Even my husband, a dyed-in-the-wool liberal from San Francisco, decries "political correctness" when our LGBT daughter tries to explain the gender fluidity terms that her generation uses.

But that's wrong. What makes us liberal is the fundamental belief that everyone deserves dignity and respect. And we need to remember that it costs us nothing to afford that to others, no matter what battles we are fighting or have fought. Because everyone is fighting a battle. As long as there continues to be marginalization and oppression, it impacts us all. Their battles are our battles. There are a lot of forces out there trying to pretend that what makes this country "great" is for people to know their place and stay silent against their marginalization. That's not a liberal notion.

We must stand up for everyone. That is our obligation as liberals. It doesn't end with any election and it demands our ongoing commitment. But it does make a difference. I'm the same age as the fictional Michael Tolliver. I was there in the '80s when they were fighting to be seen. I marched with them. I lost and mourned my godfather and many friends to AIDS. They may feel like they won that battle, but POC will tell you the war continues. My godfather could never have imagined that he could have married his partner had he lived. That's a victory won. And there are others for many other people--Dreamers, BLM, the 99%, the trans community, eco-activists, hell, just women seeking bodily autonomy--all seeking allies in their battles.

So I will continue to stand for them. And everyone else. Because everyone deserves respect and dignity.

ABC's "This Week" — Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas; Adm. Mike Mullen, former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Panel: ABC’s Matthew Dowd, Republican Strategist Sara Fagen, Democratic Strategist Arshad Hasan and Ayesha Rascoe of NPR.

NBC's "Meet the Press" — Taped interview with Donald Trump. Panel: Peter Baker of The New York Times; Lanhee Chen, research fellow, Hoover Institution; Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal; and Kristen Welker of NBC News.

CBS' "Face the Nation" —Vice President Mike Pence; Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; Reps. Adam Smith, D-Wash., and Michael McCaul, R-Texas. Panel: Ed O’Keefe of CBS, Salena Zito of Washington Examiner; and Jamal Simmons of Hill.TV.

CNN's "State of the Union" — Pence; Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.; Julian Castro, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. Panel: Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla; Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.; Bakari Sellers, former Democratic South Carolina House member; and Amanda Carpenter, former communications director, Senator Ted Cruz.

CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" — Ilan Goldenberg of the Center for a New American Security and Iran Team chief, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, 2009-2012; Peter Beinart, contributor, The Atlantic; Reuel Marc Garecht of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Rory Stewart, secretary of state for international development, Britain (2016-2018); Rana Mitter, professor of the history and politics of modern China, St. Cross College, United Kingdom.

CNN's "Reliable Sources" — David Dreier, owner of the Orlando Sentinel and chairman of the Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation; Shani Hilton, deputy managing editor, Los Angeles Times; Ana Kasparian, co-host and executive producer, “The Young Turks”; Ron Brownstein, senior editor, The Atlantic; Shawn Speagle, former Facebook moderator; Casey Newton, senior editor, The Verge; Alexander Nazaryan, author, “The Best People,” and national correspondent, Yahoo News; Michael Collins, Apollo 11 command module pilot.

"Fox News Sunday" — Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ariz.; Gov. Steve Bullock, D-Mont. Panel: Karl Rove, former White House senior adviser to George W. Bush; Emily Jashinsky of The Federalist; Howard Kurtz, host of “MediaBuzz”; and Mo Elleithee, executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service.

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