Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Spark of Wisdom: They Don't Believe I Am Gay

This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness.  Many of you are  familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky. 

No, I don't have to respect all opinions

Sparky is in a grumpy mood this week, sleep deprivation completely damaging my normally sunny and pleasant demeanor (questioning my demeanor will refer back to the grumpy mood) and catching up on previous sleep this Sunday  was much disturbed - not only did my insomniac self have to drag out of bed to tell the religious people knocking at my door that eternal damnation was positively merciful compared to what I would do if they woke me before 10:00 on a Sunday again, but I also had a visit visit from Uncle Apologist Cousin

After various relatives have made a concerted effort to make me despair of my gene pool, I now have a stream of kin convincing me to kiss and make up. (I haven't been answering their phone calls. There's a reason for this). In this case, trying to push me to apologise to Uncle Fail for being his homophobic self with the following brilliant argument.

"We just don't believe in homosexuality" (yea, I noted the 'we' there).

"Fine. Goodbye. Door's that way."

And there was a flailing, yes yes there was. No, I didn't want them to explain or elaborate - there's no need to and no way he could.

Taking it literally, they don't believe I exist. OR they don't believe I am gay. The first is ridiculous and I can solve with a swift clip round the ear to prove my existence. The second is ridiculously insulting and beyond arrogant to believe they know who and what I am and my life in general better than I myself. Less literally, he means they believe it's wrong/bad/broken/naughty to be gay. Which is an insult to me, my marriage, my Beloved, my life and my being.

None of these need an explanation, none are defensible - and I'm not going to give credence to the idea that they can be defended by sitting through yet another painful and triggering discussion by oh-so-earnest people telling me why I am so wrong/broken/diseased and my marriage is flawed/lesser/immoral and why the man I love who has pulled me out of so many self-destructive pits of mental Do-Not-Wantness is so very bad, sick and wrong for me. I've sat through far too many of them and never left them for the better. He is wrong, he is offensive and I'm not sitting down to defend my existence again.

Could I have sat down again with Apologist Cousin and explained my not-impressedness? Yes, but since I'm already drowning in mental Do-Not-Wantness and I have absolutely no desire to add to it for the sake of what remains of my mental health.

So instead - "Door, over there. Please use it."

And again I got flailing and protests about it being their OPINION and how rude I was.

Now, eternally long rambling preamble aside, this is something I want to poke with a sharp stick because I've seen it around a few times now and I want to check if the rules of common sense have been re-written again while I wasn't looking.

Since when was "it's my opinion"? A defence or answer?

Are "opinions" magically unquestionable? Are they automatically right somehow? Are they now ruled incapable of causing harm or offence? Are they somehow not wrong? Are they unchallengeable?

Why is "It's my opinion!" a discussion ENDER? When did this happen? Why are we suddenly obliged to accept, tolerate and otherwise honour opinion no matter how grossly wrong it is? Why is it acceptable to reduce both obvious facts and people's humanity and rights to subjective opinion?  

If it is my 'opinion' that the world is flat, it doesn't mean I'm not wrong and doesn't mean that people can't correct me.

If it is my 'opinion' that a Mosque anywhere is dangerous and scary - it doesn't mean I'm not offensive, doesn't mean people can't be offended and doesn't mean they can't call me out on it.

If it is my 'opinion' that women should stay at home barefoot and pregnant and have a gazillion babies - it doesn't mean it's not offensive and insulting and that women shouldn't have a strong urge to deliver a swift kick to the yin-yangs

If it is my 'opinion' that zebra striped covers on my car upholstery look really cool and sexy, it doesn't mean the rest of the population shouldn't recoil in horror and arrange an intervention.

Some things are not subjective. Some things are not open to debate. Sometimes you can just be plain wrong and it being "your opinion" doesn't change that.

Something being "just my opinion" doesn't mean it shouldn't be challenged and sure doesn't mean we need to respect it. Your opinions are not sacrosanct,. They are not harmless and they are not free from consequences. This is tired when people prate "it's my beliefs!" to justify bigotry, and it doesn't get any better when people exchange "beliefs" for "opinion."

I am tired of people waving the flag of "opinion" and then acting like I am a complete and utter arsehole for not genuflecting to it. I am tired of people being mortally offended because I refuse to accept bigotry as ok because it is someone's "opinion." I am tired of people thinking that touting something as "opinion" means I'm over-sensitive or intolerant if I'm offended by it. I'm tired of people acting like every opinion is inherently valid and due respect.

I will respect your opinion on a book, on music, on fashion (though I reserve my right to snark :P), on food, on aesthetics (but not zebra striped upholstery because, damn that's majorly fugly right there) but I most certainly refuse to accept your "opinion" on whether I am a full human being due equal respect. That  is not a subjective point open to debate.