Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Spark of Wisdom: Homophobia exists, ultimately, because most people let it exist


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.

So this week finds me nursing another bruise because someone's put his fist in my face. It probably doesn't say much for my life history that I've lost count of the times I've been nursing bruises like this.

And in general I feel tired. I can't even muster any particular outrage or fury about this. I've kind of reached a level of acceptance - there are violent arseholes who hate me and sometimes they'll get through, such is life. It's actually ironic that I get more furious with the society that encourages and protects and supports these arseholes - with the hate speech, the silencing, the politics, the moralising, the wall to wall straight privilege and the unrelenting heterosexist nature of the world and all of the bile we've become used to - than I do with the violent arsehole himself. Because a violent arsehole I can almost write off as that. 


If I live to a hundred - if my great-great-great grand children live to a hundred - I still don't think we'll be free of violent arseholes who will hate gay people and like to hurt us. People are arseholes, always have been, and most certainly will always be. And if there is more intelligent life in the universe, we'll never meet them, because the most intelligent thing they could do is keep as far away from us as they can.

An individual arseholes I can despise, but I've gotten used to them and can deal with them (note: the first person I said this to, then made a gay joke out of it. Don't. Really, don't.)

What I don't deal well with, especially while half my face is purple and brown and yellow and swollen and nasty looking, is everyone around me saying how right that person was to do it. The people who make excuses, who blame me, who defend hate, who encourage hate. That, I cannot deal with, not now. 

And, beyond that. Beyond the hatred and the heteronormativity, and the complete and utter refusal for 90% of the straight world to consider being gay an actual marginalisation - I am tired of the endless EXCUSES for homophobia. I am beyond tired of it.

I am tired of being told that "it probably wasn't homophobia. (Y'know, maybe it wasn't? Maybe he was just so pissed off because I couldn't pull an Ally McBeal (TV lawyer shows? I HATE YOU SO MUCH!) and magically change the law for him and he just decided to yell anti-gay slurs as another way of attacking along with his fists. But why are straight people so eager to tell me this?

I am tired of being told that it's "their generation, their age, how they grew up."

I am tired of being told "it's their religion, their culture."

I am tired of being told "they need educating, they need to know gay people"

I am tired of being told "you need to reach out to them, you need to connect with them more"

I am tired of being told "if you hadn't worn that, if you hadn't left that picture out, if you'd have been more careful" I'd have been safe.  


In short, I am really really, really tired of people excusing the bruise on my face. I am really really really tired of people asking me to turn the other cheek for another round of bruises. I am really tired of people urging me to understand the people who want me dead. I am really tired of people blaming me for another person's  hate. I am really tired of people putting responsibility for prejudice against me on my shoulders. I am really tired of the idea that prejudice against me is due to my failings, my inability to communicate, to reach out, to spread the message (of what? That I'm a human and deserve respect? I need to communicate this? And it's MY fault that people don't acknowledge this?)

I am really really really tired of justifying my existence. I really am.

An arsehole is an arsehole. Whether it's the guy who hit me, or the person waffling other whether we should have the same rights as straight folks, and certainly the person who is excusing either.

Do you know what I think really helps homophobia? I mean at the base - what allows and empowers the hate speech which in turn empowers the violence and the discrimination?

I think the root is the heterosexist forgiveness we constantly give homophobia. The acceptance, on some level, that heterosexuality is the norm and that homosexuality is abnormal and due criticism. The root is that we do excuse homophobia, we do not treat it as severely as it deserves and we are very quick to make justifications for it.

Homophobia exists, ultimately, because most people let it exist. And that is a very sad part of heterosexism and straight privilege.