In any civil rights struggle, it is natural to want to celebrate the victories, the accomplishments. Yet when I first heard writer Michelangelo Signorile talk about “victory blindness,” probably on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, I knew immediately that it was fundamentally true, and not just with regard to LGBTQ justice.
In this 2015 HuffPo interview, Mike says, “Victory blindness is …a term I use to describe the phenomenon in which we focus on the wins, so starved for validation, that we allow them to blind us to the continued bigotry we face. We become enthralled, intoxicated — spellbound by even a little bit. The effect is that it obscures our reality — literally our vision — and it makes us lose our gumption, not wanting to rock the boat, fearful that we’ll lose what we’ve gained and not get what little bit we think we need, when in fact we need a lot and we should be strong and confident knowing our allies will stay with us.”
I would add that engaging in victory blindness often leads to great surprise and disappointment when there is the inevitable backlash. Signorile was speaking specifically about LGBTQ rights. After the victory of marriage equality being confirmed by the Supreme Court comes a county clerk in Kentucky who refuses to issue some marriage licenses, e.g.
More recently, the US attorney general was asked if federal workers blatantly discriminate against LGBTQ people. Jeff Sessions wasn’t sure.
I think America suffered victory blindness in another arena, BIG TIME, when it elected Barack Obama. Racism is solved! We’re in a “post-racial” society! That did not quite turn out to be the case.
I suspect that the optimism following the November 2017 not-evil election results won’t lead to overconfidence. The battle against bigotry and inequality continues. Perhaps November 8 will, in someone’s words, empower and excite, not satisfy and placate.
Still, I was oddly pleased to see the so-called One Million Moms announce a Disney boycott over a gay character. My family happens to watch Andi Mack regularly, and the one boy’s feeling of jealousy that his male friend is interested in the girl who’s the title character rather than himself is just a small part of the texture of the series. The boycott seems to have had little impact on the enthusiastic fan base of the program.
For ABC Wednesday