Equal Rights, Equal Lefts
by Otep

Album: Generation Doom (2016)

Songfacts®:

  • In our interview with lead singer Otep Shamaya, she explained how this song came out of a real-life confrontation. "The guy tried to bully me and my ex-girlfriend," she said. "At the time, we were on an anniversary/vacation, and this guy came over determined to ruin it because he was angry because I could get a girl that was prettier than anything he could ever hope to get - that's number one. But two, there was so much hate in this man, that he had to come up to a perfect stranger and let them know how much he despised my 'lifestyle' as he called it.

    So we got into a little... and most people who know me, I don't have fight-or-flight, I just have fight. He was a big older dude looking down on me and threatening me. He said, 'You've got some mouth on you.' I said, 'I sure do.' And he said, 'Do you believe in equal rights?' And I said, 'You're goddamned right.' And he said, 'What about equal lefts?' and he put up his fists. And I said, 'I'm equal opportunity - a believer in both, my friend.'"
  • An advocate for gay rights, Otep Shamaya was dismayed when some Republican presidential hopefuls aligned with an anti-gay minister leading up to the 2016 primaries. She told us: "For me, writing 'Equal Rights, Equal Lefts,' was about saying, 'Thank you, straight allies.' I appreciate heterosexuals standing up for us and standing with us. It means a lot. But gay people, we have to do something ourselves. We have to do what Harvey Milk did in San Francisco with the Castro. We have to develop a safe place, a place of political power, where gays and lesbians can interact and be together safely, and we look out for each other all over the world, wherever we may exist. We have become a voting bloc; we have become a political power. Visibility is key to making it so it's not OK to gay bash somebody. It is not OK to shame somebody. There are kids in schools that are committing suicide because they can't live with themselves, because their parents won't accept it, their friends won't accept it, and they get bullied online. So somebody's got to speak out, and it's got to be those of us who survived it and came out on top. That's what 'Equal Rights, Equal Lefts' is for me: It's a call for unity and it's a battle cry for gays and lesbians to get involved and to stand up for each other and for the children that we were when we had nobody. Now, we're those people, and we can be that somebody for that kid that we once were."

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