Magnanimous oppressors and two-way streets
One of the things I love about tumblr is how easy they make it to share something cool, interesting, or informative you find on someone else’s tumblr blog with your followers, while maintaining a history of who all has shared it and where it was originally posted. Especially of someone says something that I’ve been thinking or trying to write a post about, but here is someone else’s words saying this thing I’ve been thinking for a while so well. And I know that now if I try to finish my own blog post, even if I try not to phrase things the same way as this other person, I’m going to repeat key phrases and so forth. So I’d much rather quote the whole thing, then add a few comments of my own.
Such as this interesting post from the blog the only living boy in new york:
The thing I hate about coming out is the way society expects it to go down.
When gay people come out, more often than not they are expected to almost have to beg for their families love, and if they receive it without having to, they are expected to be over the moon and rejoice and be thankful and think, “what loving family and friends I have”.
The way coming out should go down is the exact opposite.
Families and friends should almost have to beg for your love, and should most definitely be apologetic for the homophobic shit they most likely put you through whilst you were still in the closet. They should be like, “I’m sorry I was a bigoted prick all these years, I hope you can still love me and forgive me”.
The thing that bothered me the most when I came out was that my families reaction was just, “of course we have no problem, we love you no matter what”… when what I really wanted was an apology. An apology for having been ignored for years, an apology for having to sit though homophobia not only by them, but by my extended family and their friends. But what I got was, “of course it’s not a problem, now lets not talk about it again and lets not bring up all the horrible shit that we said to you openly or allowed to be said about gay people openly because we don’t want to feel bad”.
It bothers me so much to this day how much society loves to praise straight people for being so accepting of gay people but no one ever praises gay people for accepting and loving their families through the years despite all the homophobia.
—the only living boy in new york
While the beginning of the post focuses on coming out, that isn’t the only part of a queer person’s life this is limited to.
Yes, it is more than just annoying that people who spent years regurgitating anti-gay myths and homophobic stereotypes around us when we were closeted (and in many cases ridiculed us directly using homophobic slurs) act as if they are doing us a favor by being tolerant or accepting when we do come out. But the truth is that they are never as tolerant as they think they are. The homophobia becomes a bit more subtle. They use dogwhistles rather than bluntly bigoted language.
If we point out that something they said is unintentionally homophobic, we get accused of being too sensitive. If we point out that a politician they support advocates homophobic policies, or that a charity they support has actually contributed to the deaths of queer teens, we’re told that we’re overlooking all the good things because of one little bad thing. Never mind the queer people are denied needed healthcare, or lose their jobs or homes, and so forth. It’s not important.
And we’re supposed to be grateful?
The same people who accuse us of being too sensitive throw hissy fits because some businesses say “Happy Holidays” in their advertising rather than “Merry Christmas.” They’re the same people who tried to organize boycotts of businesses that chose to provide health care coverage to the partners and kids of their queer employees. They’re the same people who do call for boycotts if a movie and television show includes a queer character (usually supporting character who is given little screen time and is never shown with a same sex partner except in such ambiguous ways that the casual viewer will think it’s just a friend or a sibling).
And they expect us to explain why something is offensive, no matter how many times we’ve already explained it. Besides the fact that if they applied the teeniest tiniest bit of empathy they should be able to see it on their own. Heck, they get angry at us if we hold hands with our partner in front of them, and think it is horribly thoughtless of us not to realize they were uncomfortable, but don’t expect them to know they shouldn’t tell an AIDS joke in front of us!
And I don’t have an answer. Except to urge you, if you think that you are a supportive friend or co-worker or family member of a queer person, to stop and check yourself. If you start looking at your own words and actions from an outside perspective, you may be in for a sobering surprise.
I’ll give you a couple of suggestions for some ways to do this:
1. If you’ve ever said, “no offense!” to an LGBT+ acquaintence…
2. If you’ve ever said, “I’m not talking about you, of course, I’m talking about those bad people” or “Present company excepted”…
3. If you’ve ever dismissed anything as being politically correct…
4. If you’ve ever said, “I’m not homophobic, but…”
5. If you’ve ever noticed that your queer relative declines your social invitations again and again…
…you may not be nearly as accepting as you think you are.