Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Difficulty With Trusting Straight People

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.

I've been accused of many times of not having any faith in humanity. Though, in truth, “accused”  suggests I am denying the charge when I pretty much accept that as an accurate description. I don't have much faith in humanity.

And many people can accept that – but then turn round and are surprised when  I apply that lack of faith to them – especially with the implications for what that lack of faith means when it comes to trust.

I keep a lot of secrets. There are many parts of my life that are unknown to those around me. There are certainly many parts of my past that are buried pretty deeply.

I lie a fair amount. About where I'm going, what I'm doing, who I'm with and why, what my plans are and most certainly what I'm thinking and feeling.

There are some things I'll only talk about with GBLT people. There are some things I'll only talk about with gay men. There are some things I'll only talk about with Beloved (much to the irritation of therapy blokey).

I've offended and angered people because I won't go somewhere without making sure several people know where I'm going and with who. I've offended more by simply refusing to go anywhere alone with them. Some people don't like that I don't like them standing too close, others get annoyed because I don't like them to touch me.
And the same old question comes back to me. “Don't you trust me?”

No. Simple answer.

I have no reason to.

I have yet to meet a straight person who hasn't added to my headaches at some point or other –  and that most certainly includes people who were supposed to be my nearest and dearest. And I really don't think there's a limit on how extreme their behaviour can get, not even close. And I've run across too many straight people who can hold it in for so long before having their bigot explosion all over the place and their hatred and contempt shines forth – or who manage to hold it together only because I'm playing by “the rules” that I don't even know I'm following.

So why why why would I automatically trust them? Why would trust be the default assumption? Why would I not be wary?

I really wish people would accept that as a basic reality. No, I don't trust them. It's not personal, it's not an insult – but it is reality, it is the world how I see it and I cannot afford to give trust until I'm sure it's warranted. Frankly, I think I would be being foolish to do so – kind of like putting your hand on the hob believing that THIS time it wouldn't burn you.

Sometimes trust is a luxury. I think we have far too much of a cultural assumption or expectation of trust. Sometimes, trust cannot be the default, it cannot be assumed and it cannot be given freely. And at present, we often shame and attack people who are unwilling to extend that trust. Often people lash out when they're not given the trust they feel entitled to, leaving us to walk that awkward tightrope of feigning trust while trying to remain safe. And sometimes we have to compromise our safety because the demands of trust are placed upon us.

I'd love to see a rethinking of trust – not as an owed entitlement, perhaps not even as something you have to work for (though that's a worthy goal) since it implies that if you work hard enough then the trust becomes owed. I'd much rather trust be seen as a gift, perhaps even a rare gift – valued and loved when it is given, but not expected and demanded – and certainly not wounding when it is withheld.