05 November 2008

My final afterthought on Prop 8

Update: It's 2PM on Thursday, November 6th, here in Seoul, and 9PM on Wednesday the 5th in California. No on 8 has not conceded yet. Current margin is 52-48 in favor of the Yes vote, but there are enough uncounted votes that may still prove decisive. The LGBT activists in California are heartened at the support the No campaign got, and shocked at the support shown to the vicious tactics of the Yes campaign.

Here's what I submitted to Facebook's No on 8 group, using my unique vantage point in Seoul:

This trans lesbian was very honored to vote in this week's elections, despite being 6,000 miles away in Seoul, South Korea, where a year-old hard-right government has been doing everything to keep the US Religious Right going, without the approval of the people themselves. I was initially very happy that my presidential candidate, Barack Obama, won, despite all the crap from the South Korean conservatives and the Korean-Americans about Obama being a socialist Antichrist. Then Prop 8 passed, undoubtedly with huge Korean-American support and ample South Korean government funding.

I was extremely steamed over this, that when I was reporting to my qi treatment this morning - the very reason why I am spending so much time in Seoul in the first place - I made sure to yell some choice obscenities at Seoul's main LDS church, from the window of my city bus. I've also been taking it out on drivers of BMW automobiles, as BMW believes in exterminating LGBTs AND in helping Bill O'Reilly leave San Francisco out to the terrorist vultures.

However, my time with the qi master, as well as with the vast majority of the saner South Koreans, has brought everything back into perspective, and I am feeling hopeful again. I introduced my master to Prop 8, why I was so against it, why the Korean-Americans overwhelmingly support it, and how it passed by a slim margin. The initial response of my master was that justice will prevail in the end, however long it may take, and that the process must play itself out. Normally, that would have been an unacceptable answer; however, I found myself completely agreeing with him today. I did strongly believe that the Yes campaign had the momentum on its side this year, between the partisan immigration patterns into California which took away its once-tolerant spirit, between the Yes campaign's great ability to appeal to the core values of these immigrants and nonwhites, and the inability of the No campaign to go beyond the standard white liberal individualist talking points. I bluntly told my master that it was very tempting to vote Yes on 8, just for the superior presentation it had put out. And I mean it.

We moved on to the topic of religion. My master is like the vast majority of South Koreans - taking the good from all major religions, and using religions as a spiritual guide, but not locking oneself into one religion's exclusive set of "truths." He had worked with many Buddhist and Christian clergy members, and one of the reverends he had worked with had pointed out to him that there are over 8,000 versions of the Christian Bible in the world. I told him about all sorts of English-language Bible versions that I have read in the US. I further pointed out that the Korean Bible is a product of three translations - from Hebrew and Greek to Latin, then to English, then to Korean - and as such, its ability to convey concepts is very handicapped; he wholeheartedly agreed. We agreed that it was almost a blasphemy to distill the Divinity into the narrow confines of a human language, corrupt it further through translations, AND claim that we are reading the inerrant words of God. I finally mentioned my own Unitarian Universalist background, which is truly unusual in South Korea but is a very close match of the typical South Korean attitude toward religion.

We further agreed that the Korean-Americans' extremist Christianity is very worrisome. I told him that if I were to have children and send them to a Korean-language preschool, all my options in Southern California - all hundreds of them - are fundamentalist Christian. He finds this very appalling.

We even discussed South Korean politics. My master told me that the current right-wing government is little more than the knee-jerk reaction to the previous leftist government, which had been led by an extremely inept President. That's a very good assessment. I further pointed out that the current right-wing government's policies and ideology (and even treatments of the opponents) are the exact same ones as what Reagan and Bush have used for the past 30 years - with devastating consequences to America and the world. (I didn't go any further, although I must note that the Unification Church and Reverend Moon are the common link between the right-wing extremism of both the US and South Korea.)

I have talked to a good number of other South Koreans on a number of current issues, and all are giving me similar feedback. So there is hope, contrary to the Korean-American community, which is overwhelmingly conservative, extremist Christian, and backward, made even more so because of the language barrier. Unfortunately, the current reality is that it's those extremists who are getting visas to the US, naturalizing as US citizens, and voting in US elections. I will demand to the Obama Administration that this change immediately.

I will spend the rest of this year in South Korea, except for a few nights in Hong Kong. It's very possible that I will not be back in California until after Obama is inaugurated. Now that the election is over for better or worse, I will concentrate on giving myself a better mood, and ensuring that I will have a role to play as the US-South Korean relations improve under Obama. I look forward to the day when the Christian extremists are flushed out from the US-South Korean relations, cooler heads prevail in both nations, and gay marriage is legalized once and for all in both nations. Unlike the Korean-American youth, South Korean youth are quite tolerant, and will not object to the legalization of gay marriage here in Seoul. The current homophobic President of South Korea, who has vowed to protect the South Korean youth from the homosexual corruption at all costs (and has certainly done so - IN CALIFORNIA), will be long history by then.

For now, time to start boycotts. From here in South Korea, Samsung will be boycotted, as it is the biggest supporter of the current homophobic government and its US allies, and is whining about the Obama victory. When I return home, I will immediately throw away my last Samsung product - a broken TV. From elsewhere in the world, I already mentioned BMW. I currently own a 3-series, which will be sold as soon as possible. It is more than possible that a Hyundai will be its replacement, as while most South Koreans are far from overtly gay-friendly, they do know something about equality and justice that the Korean-Americans and the US Religious Right will never understand. Shame on BMW for being the only German company that refuses to learn from the Nazi era horrors. As I will do a week-long road trip here in South Korea later this month, driving a rental Hyundai, I will decide then if Hyundai vehicles are worthy replacements for my Bavarian fascist piece of scrap metal. Sure, my next car will probably be the only Hyundai that spends more time in West Hollywood or San Francisco's Castro than in Koreatown, but that will be something to be proud of.

We have clearly suffered a setback. However, the momentum is still on the side of justice and equality, as evidenced by the victory of Barack Obama. Let's keep the momentum going, ensure that Obama sticks to his message of hope and change, and we shall prevail in the end.