I just finished reading Michelle Rodriguez made me cry at Comic-Con and can I say, it’s amazing to me how much of this is transferable?!
She talks about how guys in line with her spoke about women, the disabled, and black people. And how she didn’t go and stop it. She wasn’t sure that her outburst would make a difference.
I want to tell you that this is the reality for the Queers who live among us as well. Chances are that if you’re reading this, you already know… We hear all sorts of language that ranges between being casually negative to being outright and intrinsically offensive on a daily basis. And we wonder whether making a point about it brings more good than harm.
A couple of months ago, I had an incident on a training course I went on where someone in my class was talking about the “gay metro UI” of Windows 8. By which he clearly meant that Metro was “bad”. (It’s not, it’s just different, ‘k?) I spent the rest of the day asking myself whether there was a point taking him to task on his choice of language, and failed to speak to him that day about it. Why? Because I worry about being “that gay guy”, being “the troublemaker”, being unliked, shunned, or for people to censor themselves around me more than anyone else.
I did wind up talking to him, and asked him why he chose “that word”. To him it “was just a word” a much like to the guys in Kate’s article it would be “just a joke” He understood my point that he has no idea who’s around him and no clue how it affects them.
I think it’s important to point these things out. People often don’t know/don’t realise what they’re doing, or its impact. I understand that. Just today I had someone pull me aside and say ‘I don’t use “herp” or “derp” because they’re ableist’ which is something I hadn’t thought about in the slightest before. I won’t be using those words again.
But much like there were guys who said that “women talk too much” at Comic-Con, there are people who will (and do) criticise me and other LGBTIQ peeps who organise rallies, protests, and/or write or talk about this stuff with any regularity. We get accused of only talking about gay, and aren’t there more important topics, and told that “straight people don’t need a rally” or “to declare they’re straight”.
But no. This stuff *is* important. People need to understand that for us life includes ignoring the many jibes, many little things that remind us that we’re not seen to be as good as the straight people. That hearing “that’s so gay” uttered by the local idiot at the supermarket is yet another example of things we ignore or deal with on a day to day basis. It’s another decision (or many decisions) we have to make, every day, that many people don’t.
So discrimination in one area is much like discrimination in another. Tolerate no discriminatory language ever. Because when they talk that way about people like me, they’re not far from talking like that about people like you.