Wednesday, October 31, 2012

LGBT People Don't Have to be Nice

Once again, wise words from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness.

It’s happened again. Well it’s never stopped happening. Tumblr, where common sense goes to die and fail goes to breed and thrive, had a rather reasonable post on what counts as allydom and what counts as the actions of a decent human being. And of course, we had a string of allies saying how “meaaaan” they were and they’re alienating people etc etc ad nauseum.

And then there’s Chris Kluwe’s rather awesome response to homophobic arseholery that should be embossed in gold. And what happened? While most have cheered, I’ve seen people gasping because of the swearing and disrespect. Really. I think his own words nicely sums that up. Now I could even see the point on “cockmonster” kinda, but swearing and disrespect? Seriously? Because the bigots bigotry wasn’t already rude and disrespectful?

And, of course, in response to my criticism of the raging bigots who keep occupying the equality’s minister’s seat, I’ve been chided that I need to “calm down” and wait and “engage” with the nasty homophobic bigots otherwise how will we convince them to support us! Oh I am sabotaging us!

And I say fuck it. Yes I have been mean and nasty which means, apparently, a load of people are now going to spit their dummies out and no longer support GBLT equality.

Really I would question how much of an “ally”  anyone is if they will decide that the entire movement of GBLT equality – or, indeed, any equality movement – is no longer worth their time or attention if one person who belongs to that group is unpleasant to them.

Even beyond unpleasant – even if I were a rapist, a murderer, a paedophile, a bad karaoke singer or someone who persistently knocks on your door of a Sunday morning to try and sell you something –  it is still patently ridiculous, enormously arrogant and exceedingly selfish to dismiss an entire equality movement and an entire marginalised group because one of them isn’t a very nice person. Really, this is the bar you put on your support? This is the standard we have to meet to be worth of equality? Absolutely impeccable behaviour from all of us at all times?

This doesn’t sound like someone who cares over much about equality or justice to me.

But, beyond that, I think being all kinds of unpleasant is quite necessary to achieve true equality and to see who is actually allies.

See, I want a equality, I want justice and in that struggle I very much want straight people to support me. I want straight people to have my back. I want straight people at my side. I even want straight people willing to stand between me and the fire.

Full stop.

I don’t want a “but” there. I don’t want a “so long as”  tacked on the end.

I don’t want people to support my rights – so long as I behave
I don’t want people to fight for my equality –  so long as I’m nice and polite.
I don’t want my equality, my rights, my respect as a human being, contingent on my playing nice and following certain rules.
I don’t want to “engage” with people. I don’t want to have a dialogue.
I don’t want to have to convince people I am deserving of humanity.
I don’t want to BUY respect with praise and cookies and headpats.
I’m not asking for justice, I’m demanding it.
Equality is not a gift to be given, it is a debt that is owed.

I won’t “reach out” to people. I won’t police myself to please people. I won’t justify myself. I won’t excuse myself. I won’t conform to a measured level of acceptability. I won’t censor myself. I won’t play games and jump hoops

Besides, you know when you get one of those bigots who says “I have X friends?” I know we’ve all seen them and I’ve definitely spoken about them before. But some of them aren’t actually lying. After all, it’s depressing but we all know that every equality movement in the history of mankind has those who are more than happy to throw the rest of us under the bus. Internalised hatred, selfishness, whatever the reason, we know they’re there and every community has it’s words for them. Personally, I like “quislings” since it’s a fun word, has sufficient history to be venomous and sounds sufficiently silly to be dismissive as well.

But I’m not a quisling. And I’m not anyone’s  “gay friend.” I may be a friend who happens to be gay, but I will not be a gay friend. I will not be one of those who smiles when you shovel shit at me. I will not be someone to play nice with oppression. I will not say thank you when you smack me down. I will express myself vehemently, angrily, passionately. I won't excuse homophobia, I won't soft-peddle it, I won't downplay it.

Because I don’t want to be a “gay friend.” I don’t want to disrespect not only myself, but GBLT people in general by being the “nice one” who “isn’t offended” or who “think it’s ok”. I don’t – won’t – be used as a weapon against people who share my marginalisation. And in this straight privileged, heterosexist world that means I’m almost required to say things that many straight people may find upsetting or, perhaps more accurately, challenging.

Besides – have you ever heard the saying “if you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention?” Anger is important. When the haters through bigoted shit then, sorry, but raging fury IS appropriate. Not being angry dismisses the severity of their actions. Being emotionless and calm can be an insult to the hurt.

I would like to see more anger, not more restraint.