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 republican blokey in the US, Roy McDonald Has said:
"You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn't black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing. You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, fuck it, I don't care what you think. I'm trying to do the right thing." after deciding to vote for marriage equality in New York.
Now there are several things I could snark here. I could snark about the fact this guy has finally come to see life in shades of grey rather than black and white at the age of 64 when most of make that transition in our early teens. I could snark that while many things are indeed shades of grey, outright prejudice and bigotry is not.
But, no, I'm going to snark at the many people who are throwing party streamers in the air and losing their ever loving shit in glee over this guy.
Yes, he doesn't hate us and yes he's voting for equal marriage - so are quite a lot of other senators. Do they all get the cookie and ticker tape parade?
But, yes he's republican doesn't hate us. It's shocking, yes. But isn't the fawning now a trifle... embarrassing. I haven't baked nearly enough ally cookies to give out to all those who will end up thinking that not hating us is due a party, really.
I see the same thing whenever we see a church that's willing to let us through the door without screaming "hell and damnation, brimstone BRIMSTONE! Don't let them get gay in the font!" (it has to be said I don't have the best experiences with churches). The amount of leaping up and down, throwing flowers goes over the top and gets on my last nerve.
I never feel like joining in. I just don't get excited by people deciding that they may treat me as human - that's a standard expectation (even if it is rarely met). It's never appealed to me. If someone doesn't treat me as human then that is an evil act. People treating me as human and equal is not praiseworthy - it's basic humanity. As I've said before, praising someone for not being a bigot is like praising people for not punting kittens - we should expect this from people as standard. I find it belittling to give fulsome praise for basic words - I feel it implies that equality is NOT our due - that equality is a gift we're begging for, not a debt that is owed.
And giving fulsome praise to the exception to the rule of an organisation that is more known for its hate doesn't make me happy either. Do the rebels from groups that usually hate us deserve greater praise than those who are members of groups that stand fully behind us? Is that fair or just?
And, worse, too often are these rebels used to rainbow-wash for their prejudice. How many do people hold up the rare non-homophobic republican or the pride parade attending Tory and turn round and say "not all X are homophobic! See, we're friendly really!" because the exceptions are totally representative of the whole or somehow redeem the arseholery the whole brings on us right? To say nothing of the support and prejudice these exceptions cause and encourage just by being members of - and tolerating the bigotry of - the prejudiced organisations they are part of.
So, yeah. Maybe I'm naïve to expect more. Maybe I'm several kinds of mean for being very grudging of praise to supporters. Maybe I should accept that, at the moment, not hating us is due acknowledgement and praise. Maybe prejudice is just too standard and accepted for it to be otherwise.
Maybe. But it doesn't sit well with me, not even slightly.