Every time I’ve sat down to write my post for the Hop Against Homophobia, I’ve gotten angry. Downright pissed off. Invariably, anything I’d started to write turned into a lengthy, angry rant. After a few tries, I’ve decided to run with that lengthy, angry rant. Why? Because the time to be nice and diplomatic has long since passed. So, lengthy, angry rant it is.
Folks, it’s the year 2012. It’s high time our society collectively grew the hell up and stopped playing ridiculous childish games with people’s rights. Everyone is ranting and cracking down on bullying, and yet in the same breath we’re playing the equivalent “don’t let the girls play on the swing set” or “you can’t play with my toys because you have ugly freckles or a funny name” with people’s lives. Real, thinking, feeling human beings who suffer because who they are and what they are offends other people’s sensibilities.
Quite honestly, if someone’s queer identity offends your sensibilities, please let me be the first to invite you to shove those sensibilities up your backside.
“Am I not entitled to my opinion?” some might be asking.
Of course you are. You’re welcome to your opinion. However, that welcome mat gets yanked out from under you the second you try to impose that opinion on other people in a way that negatively impacts their life. Your nose-wrinkling distaste of gay relationships does not give you the right to keep a woman from her dying partner’s bedside. Your offended sensibilities do not grant you the authority to drive a transgendered teenager to suicide. You don’t have the right to beat the living shit out of a gay man because you inexplicably believe his sexuality threatens you.
I’m not exaggerating here. We've all seen the headlines, especially in recent years. I graduated high school in 1999, and during my high school years, a dear friend decided to bring his boyfriend to a school dance. I actually heard these words: “If I see them dance together or kiss or something, I’ll beat the shit out of them!”
But why? What could possibly be so offensive about a dance or a kiss that people feel the need, the justification, to resort to physical violence?
I don’t understand. I really don’t.
Even today, some say: “If you choose to live that lifestyle, you have to accept the consequences.”
Okay, first of all, those are not natural consequences. They’re the result of bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and no one should accept those consequences. None of us should. There’s no excuse for it.
And for that matter, it’s not a choice, folks. Many of us have fought long internal battles over our identities, often at tremendous personal cost. Why would we do that if it was a choice? Wouldn’t we just choose not to be what is causing us all this heartache? Think about it. Do you really think children would be committing suicide – in alarming numbers, I might add – over something they could choose to avoid altogether? Why would anyone choose to suffer?
The answer? They don’t choose to suffer. They don’t choose to be society’s convenient target of hatred. We, as a society, choose to make them suffer, and there is no reason why we can’t choose to stop that suffering. To stop inflicting that suffering.
This goes for gender identity as well as sexual. Think about what a transgendered or genderqueer person endures. In a society in which gender roles are so polarized and deeply ingrained, why would anyone choose to be transgendered? Gender reassignment – whether or not surgery is involved – is a long, painful, ostracizing process. It’s often prohibitively expensive, especially if someone does wish to undergo gender reassignment surgery. On top of that, it makes a person a target of hatred that has a sickening habit of turning into violence. All it takes is a perusal of the news over the last year to see that transphobia is no less dangerous than homophobia.
Shouldn’t it stand to reason, then, that the need to match one’s body to one’s brain goes beyond a simple choice or a compulsion? That it’s deep-seated enough that continuing to identify as the wrong gender is so hellish, so unbearable, it makes facing transphobia the lesser of two evils? Imagine that, folks. Imagine what it’s like to be that out of place in your own skin that you’re willing to risk your social network, your livelihood, your physical and emotional health, even your life, in hopes of finding peace with who you are. As a civilized society, we should be supporting and loving people going through this kind of hell, not making them live in fear on top of everything else they’re going through.
This is why I’m tired of playing nice. Homophobia and transphobia are not petty, silly things. People are being denied rights the rest of us take for granted. Real people are living in real fear of real harm because of ridiculous misconceptions, outdated notions, and blatant bigotry. Lives are being hindered, ruined, and even ended because we’ve somehow convinced ourselves that we have a right to decide someone else's identity is inferior to our own. We've somehow gotten it into our collective mind that love can justify hatred if it's not a love we personally relate to or understand.
I’m queer myself, but because I’m in a heterosexual marriage, I can fairly easily enjoy heterosexual privilege. I could easily ignore these issues because they don’t pertain to my everyday life like they do other people’s. But hetero privilege doesn’t negate human responsibility. Just because you can turn a blind eye doesn’t mean you should. Being outwardly straight doesn’t mean I should pretend not to notice homophobia and transphobia any more than being white means I should pretend racism doesn’t still exist. We – all of us – owe it to our fellow human beings to be aware, to be angry, and to take action.
It disgusts me that this is even an issue anymore. How many times do we have to go through this – the oppression, erasure, and blatant discrimination of less powerful groups – before we realize it’s inhumane and barbaric? How many times do we have to do this before we see that we’re just finding another weakling on the playground to beat up so we feel superior?
It’s been race in the past.
Economic standing/social class.
Economic standing/social class.
Now it’s gender identity and sexual orientation.
Where does it end?
Rather, why hasn’t it ended already?
And as the other bloggers in the blog hop are doing, I'm giving away some books:
One randomly drawn commenter will receive their choice of an ebook off my backlist. The commenter who leaves the most interesting, thoughtful comment related to the subject of the post will receive their choice of two ebooks OR a signed paperback off my backlist.
Winners will be selected on May 21st. Please make sure to leave an e-mail address so I can contact you. Winners will be contacted directly as well as posted here, and have 72 hours to reply and claim their prize. Good luck, and thanks for stopping by!