Tuesday, December 21, 2010

When Will Gay People Be Happy?


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.

"When will you be happy?"

I was recently asked this question by a friend, much to the nodding agreement of those around, in response to my complaining about various political/equality issues after my opinion was solicited. Because, y'know, I never am. Whenever they ask me about equality, gay rights, prejudice or anything like I'm always such a depressing complainer. They need a less depressing gay friend, they do.

They especially need gay friend who will not give them side eye and threaten to give them a ding round the ear 'ole for statements like that.

See, the whole statement "when will you be happy?!" (and it's unspoken translation "aren't you satisfied yet?") bugs me a lot, because it's easily answered.

I'll be happy when our humanity is universally acknowledged (or even majority acknowledged for that matter!) as being equal to that of straight people. Until then, I'm going to be a grumpy gus with my grumpy face and my grumpy activism. 

And then I get the eye roll. Because I'm asking so much, because I'm being unreasonable.
And it's sad because it's not by any stretch the only time (or close to the only time) that I've heard the same thing expressed over and over.

Aren't you happy yet?

Aren't you satisfied?

Are you still complaining?

Can't you just be happy about this?

And do you know what the most powerful feeling I'm left with? It reminds me of a parent dealing with a spoiled child that hasn't said thank you for a birthday present.

Because that's it, isn't it?

It's ingratitude. When a right has been given. When a step has been taken - gods, even when a pretty speech is being made - there should be a thank you, right? We should express our appreciation for the equality granted, for the gesture made, for some of the rights being conceded. We should appreciate being considered almost as good as them.

We certainly shouldn't be saying "where's the rest?"

Gods forbid we say "this isn't enough!"

It's outrageous if we say "too little, too late."

It's not even okay to say "great - and now we want this, this and this."

I say again, equality isn't something given, it's something owed. And every step to progress is a lessening of injustice  - not a grant of justice. Things will not be right until all this crap has gone -- until then, you're only making it less wrong.

And, y'know what, it isn't too much to ask. It isn't unreasonable or unacceptable or greedy to demand full equality, full respect, full regard in all matters. It isn't unreasonable to demand this or want this or expect this (though, depressingly, I believe it's going to be a long long long time before it's attainable, certainly not in my life time).

And it saddens me that we've even swallowed that idea ourselves to a degree. That we have actually accepted the idea of "asking too much" or "wanting too much at once." We have accepted the idea that people demanding equality are being "impatient." Are being greedy. Are being unreasonable. Are being presumptuous. Are being selfish even - selfish for demanding equality.

It saddens me that even amongst ourselves we have often accepted the idea of equality as a gift, as something granted, not something that we are owed and past due.

So no, I'm not happy. I'm glad about every step taken, I'm glad about every victory won, I'm glad about every inch forwards. But I'm not happy. I'm still not satisfied, I'm still moaning and yes, I'm still grumpy

*grumpy face*