Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Apologetic Bigot

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. 

Homophobic bigots come in all shapes and sizes.

There’s the Violent Bigot we know too well and his closely related Frothing Bigot (often found in radio stations), ready to foam at the mouth and rant extreme obscenities at the slightest opportunity. You have the Storytime Bigot who will make up ANYTHING to try and demonise us. You have the Credulous Bigot, moving in vast herds, willing to believe everything the Storytime Bigot tells them. You’ve got the Terrified Bigot who is convinced we’re going to do terribad, awful things to him. You’ve got the Religious Bigots telling us the moral rightness of hate, the LoveJoy Bigots who always always always Think of the Children and you’ve got the Perpetually Horrified Bigot who just saw an advert with 2 ladies kissing and are now well and truly Shocked and Appalled.

We probably need a full documentary series with David Attenborough narrating to properly categorise all the bigots. But recently the ones most giving me grey hairs are the Apologetic Bigots.

Usually liberal and “progressive”  (for a given definition of both), the Apologetic Bigot wants you to know why their bigotry really really really really isn’t bigotry. Or why their bigotry is so very very very necessary. Or why they really hate it and wish it wasn’t so and look at their wringing hands, precious, but they had to!

Then they look at you and expect you to accept their bigotry/forgive their bigotry. So let’s tackle this monster.

Firstly, I am really really really uninterested in how much of a “struggle” you found accepting my humanity. Really. Am I supposed to be impressed that you had to have such an epic internal tussle to decide “actually, GBLT people are totally deserving respect”? I boggle at the number of people who present this as some kind of achievement that I should be HAPPY about. My existence is so repugnant to you that you had to have a massive internal war that you still struggle with over whether or not I get to be treated like a decent person? Well let me get the confetti, we need a parade in your honour for that feat of allydom!

You can also see this with people in authority and power making grand speeches of what big supporters of our rights they are – when they don’t have to do anything. Pretty speech on matters that are not up for the vote! But when there is a vote? Echoing silence. Delay. Or, if you’re really lucky, you can get the “now is not the time” speech followed by lots of apologetics and hand wringing while they turn your back on you.

And then make a pretty speech on some issue they’re not expected to actually do anything about. Or on something that’s already going forward without them. Yay, progress! Behold the Apologetic Bigot in power, always ready for a pretty speech to cover their homophobic arses, the complete void where actual effort would stand. But they’re allies, honest! Look they said nice things! Sorry, are you having trouble hearing the speeches from under the bus? They’ll have to shout their support louder.

The next step up is to make big pretty speeches about how they support gay rights, really – and then vote against us! Yes, vote against gay rights while assuring us how much they love us really but they just HAD to vote against us. Sarah Teather MP is a master of this kind of apologetics, but “Straight Choice” Simon Hughes MP is pretty good as well. Totally on our side guys! Totally not homophobic – oh, wait vote for marriage equality? No... they just couldn’t do it! Oh they have very long soul searching speeches about why they couldn’t do it. Lots of apologies. Lots of long explanations about how they agonised – AGONISED – over their decision

I almost WEEP for the pain they suffered deciding that I’m not a full person! WEEP I tell you! It must be so hard to be a straight bigot deciding I’m not due full human rights, really, it must.

Of course, those are apologetic bigots who have power, but there’s no shortage of them further down the rungs. There’s many a Handwringing apologetic for people telling me why they simply must must must support a certain religious leader or politician – yes they think I’m scum under their shoes but they just have to! Or they just CAN’T support this right, I have to understand and there so very very very very sorry but my full humanity is just too much! No, they just CAN’T use that inclusive language, no they just CAN’T! They’re sorry but it’s just soooo hard!

Truly, seeing them suffer moves my heart. And by “moves my heart” I mean “turns my stomach”. Hey you got one organ moving at least.

And, classic of all, they’re really really sorry and feel so guilty and I must understand – but they simply can’t give up Chick-fil-a! But they feel really guilty eating those waffle fries!

Ah that feeling you get when you rank somewhere below fried chicken in someone’s priorities.

Ultimately, your guilt has no value

Your handwringing doesn’t help me

And no matter how much you beg and plead and apologise, I’m not going to sign off on your bigotry

Your struggle to accept my humanity doesn’t impress me.

The pain you feel trying to treat me like a real person doesn’t invoke my sympathy.

Your throwing us under the bus is inexcusable – no matter how many excuses you make. Your voting against our rights is bigoted and unforgiveable, no matter what pretty speeches you make asking us to forgive.

Your empty speeches do not fill the void left by your inaction. Your passionate rhetoric on issues you are expected to do little or nothing about means little when there is echoing silence or weaselling excuses when you are called to act.

Your token gestures don’t bridge the gap of injustice, your pretty speeches don’t sweeten the stench of your bigotry and your words will never remove the sting of your betrayal.