Tuesday, June 28, 2011

So, to straight, cis people who support GBLT rights - what do I owe you?

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 it's time for me to settle some accounts here I think. So, to straight, cis people who support GBLT rights - what do I owe you?

A) Gratitude

B) Patronage of your business

C) My vote for your party

D) My buying your products

E) My reading and linking to your site

F) My contributing to your endeavors

G) The benefit of the doubt in all future privileged fails

H) Not a bloody thing

Of course the correct answer is H, not a bloody thing, because I don't owe people for recognising my humanity or for recognising that society's refusal to treat me as a full person. A concept I've covered before, especially in relation to A (yet my inbox is still full of messages from a straight man who is outraged that I won't play the Good Grateful Gay to the Nice Straight Saviour). 

But I'm not going to ramble about that today (I may another time, or any of the other options here for that matter). No, I'm going to ramble about G.

The benefit of the doubt. A wonderful and complicated thing and not something I'm against. But there's a difference between giving the benefit of the doubt and owing the benefit of the doubt. 
Say, for example, there was the unlikely event of Renee saying something tomorrow that was problematic. Would I give her the benefit of the doubt? Of course I would. She's a friend, I trust her, I know her. I spend more nights on the phone with her than not, talking about mooses, urban fantasy, TV, politics, random stuff, snark, cooking, books, and how we can con Tami into reading more drek. I trust her and know her and know she's a good person I can rely on and on the strength of that I wouldn't hesitate to give the benefit of the doubt.

It's not owed, but it's freely given.

Now contrast that with some of the crap that's been landing in my inbox lately.

Recently I have been purging my Twitter and RSS feeds to remove sites and feeds that are only adding to my grey hairs and are generally not healthy for my rather fraught mental state to continue visiting and engaging. Some people have noticed my sudden withdraw and are all "ZOMGWTFBBQ!?" about it. And I've tried, as nicely as possible, to say that I'm withdrawing because their space isn't a good space for me, good luck and all that, buh-bye. 

And there is a huffing. "Look! Look!" they cry, "look at my gay rights credentials!" And I sigh, I really do.

If you pull some straight privileged arseholery then the fact that on 2006 you said that actually, beating gay people up was a bad thing, does not give you a pass. To put it crudely, you can't give me a cookie once and expect me to eat shit forever more.

And even aside from resting on past laurels, there are levels and types of homophobia, all of it shit, all of it intolerable. Just because you speak out against anti-gay violence, doesn't mean I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt when you sling around stereotypes. You can sing how much you love the idea of gay marriage, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to side-eye you rhapsodising about how hot gay men are and how much you love to drool over us, your fetish toys. You may try to speak nicely about us, but then spend an inordinate amount of time excusing, protecting and defending a homophobe who is Refraining from engaging in one form of homophobia, even opposing one form of homophobia, doesn't mean engaging in another form is all rosy and fine. It is not.

Nice words are not a cover you can stretch over clueless straight privilege or outright homophobia and, again, nothing you do for GBLT rights makes you immune to being called out. Your "allydom" doesn't mean we have to bite our tongue every time you kick us or to hang around your space while you repeatedly poke us with sharp sticks.

Or to end in a nice trite one liner: the benefit of the doubt, I'm happy to give it but I never owe you it. And it's my decision who I give it to. Ok, that's two lines. See, even my trite one liners are overly wordy.