Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Y’know, being able to ignore homophobia? It’s a privilege.


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’m not going to ignore it

One of the things that I’ve found a lot is that I am frequently required to ignore things.

Now, I’m a polite man. I know there are some things that it is polite to allow to pass without comment. I don’t comment on Great Aunt D’s baking even though I think the UN inspectors may want to visit her kitchens to check for chemical and biological weapons. 

I ignore that when Beloved cooks for us it involves lots of pre-packaged, ready-made food he then tries to pass off as his own cooking. And he burns it (ok, I don’t ALWAYS ignore this, but snark is good for a relationship).

I ignore that my cousins think their lovely daughter has a wonderful career ahead of her as a singer while I think she has a great future imitating albatross bird calls. Or possibly stunning them into submission with her high-allegedly-C.

See, I can ignore things. But I really do draw the line somewhere – and I’m certainly drawing the line at homophobia. And this is rather vexing because it does tend to be the thing most people expect me to ignore.

When people try to convince me that Theresa May isn’t all that bad, and her mini-me figleaf Lyn Featherston – so long as I ignore May’s record of despicable homophobia and hate speech. Can’t I look at her record on X, Y, Z and just ignore the fact she’s a homophobe? In fact, the same applies to Cameron and the majority of the Tory cabinet. Oh and listen to this speech from Baroness Warsi, sure, she said gays were child predators, but can’t I just ignore that? No. No I don’t think I can.

And, of course, Archbishop Sentamu is hailed as a great man for social justice and campaigning for inclusion. Well, inclusion for straight people anyway. GBLT folks? Not so much. In fact granting us equal rights would be the acts of a dictator, apparently. He couldn’t even endorse an accord that denounced violence against gay people. Yet I’m supposed to ignore this so we can focus on other matters, “more important” issues? So we can give him untainted praise for his dedication to justice (for some)? No, I don’t think so.

And don’t even get me started on Ron Paul supporters because then I may not stop until I am physically restrained and gagged (minds out of the gutter. And yes, you went there, you know you did). Because one or two issues which he supports for extremely dubious reasons totally make up for the shed loads of bigotry he carts around?

Y’know, being able to ignore homophobia? It’s a privilege. Because it has so little impact on your life, because it isn’t something you constantly have to navigate around. Because you get to swim around a nice clam sea and I’ve got damn sharks to deal with. It can’t be ignored because this is the life I live.

I also take issue with anyone asking me to discount homophobia, look past homophobia or ignore homophobia. I resent the idea that my life and rights can be discarded so casually. I resent that my rights and humanity don’t matter as much as x, y, z. Or that x, y, z justifies homophobia and bigotry.

And I’m not saying that X, Y, Z may be important. I may even agree with them. I may think they have some very good things to say on various issues or may have done some great things. By all means talk about those things encourage those things and work towards those things. But don’t just ignore the homophobia. Don’t act like it changes or justifies the homophobia – nor does it mean you can support this person and pretend the homophobia isn’t there or doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter.