Tag Archives: lgbt

Respecting Different Opinions

Today at work, Clara told me she is “against” people being gay. No, she doesn’t know I’m a lesbian. Work is probably the last place I’d ever come out, because you’re talking about putting your livelihood on the line…which I don’t think is worth it. I don’t have time–or money–to try to sue anybody, either.

Also, because work is the only place where I really interact with people, I get a kick out of a couple of things about being in the closet at work–1) how everyone assumes you’re straight, unless you are just obvious, and 2) the way people talk about gays and lesbians when they think they’re speaking to another straight person. I could never want to miss these two things.

In particular about #1, it’s not the assumption and its “privileges,” but the things I learn because of the assumption. What I love about #1 is, personally, I think there are too many signs that I’m not straight that people just don’t get. Lesson #1: Straight people do not have gaydar. Like, at all. Just because you’re straight and can recognize a feminine-acting man or a butch woman doesn’t mean you have gaydar. If you can’t figure out a female sports junkie who doesn’t wear makeup, never wears anything other than comfortable clothes, doesn’t wear jewelry, never does anything with her hair, doesn’t give men the time of day or talk about them romantically…just for starters…individually, these things don’t necessarily mean anything, but it should be enough to give an observant straight person (especially another woman) pause when all put together, I’d think. It doesn’t seem to, though.

About #2…I’ve found that people usually don’t, in my experience, come out and admit they have any issues with being gay or lesbian, regardless of whom they think you are. This is why I respect what Clara said to me today. Usually, people will bullschitt you in some way about gays and lesbians and their opinion. I can tell this is something other gays/lesbians haven’t learned, but I’m black. I know people are full of schitt when it comes to minority groups–all of them.

In the US, people love to do a black people vs gay people thing, just a way to make black people the bad guys because they’re sick of hearing about black people and racism. Finding ways to make black people incredibly intolerant is “in” right now. Usually, it’s white people making black people the bad guy when it comes to homosexuality, but sometimes you get some dumb black people joining in. Basically, according to these people, black people hate gay people. Black people are the only ones who hate gay people. Everyone else is so much more accepting, unless, perhaps, if they’re Republican or Christian or Southern (never mind that this is a good percentage of the population, much more so than black people make up, even if you exclude the black people who are also Republican, Christian and/or Southern. Incidentally, pointing the finger at any of these groups isn’t 100%).

I would say the majority of all [American] people fit into one of two camps: They are “against homosexuality,” or they are “okay with it” or “don’t care” at some point but say or do things at other points that indicate this is not entirely true. Personally, I’ve seen more “I don’t care, but then again, I do” stuff from people–black, white, whatever–than anything else. I know of so many black people who are like this–this is how my mother is. But maybe, just maybe, you’re more likely to get unapologetic honesty from blacks–and other racial minorities–than from white people.

I often find white LGBT allies and neutrals disingenuous in some sense, or exaggerated, or clueless, or don’t care/do care-ish. This is also how most white people are with race, and I do think the two are related–white people understand consequences of being brutally honest about gays/lesbians more than black people do, I’d say, because they’ve already seen or experienced white people suffering consequences of being brutally honest about blacks. We black people talk schitt about white people, and nothing happens. Talk schitt about Asians or Latinos…usually, not much happens, but sometimes it does (like, if the target is Jeremy Lin, NBA star). Talk schitt about gay people–surprise–schitt happens.

Bottom line–most people won’t just say what they really think about gays/lesbians or gay rights without trying to soften the blow somehow or without adding whatever statement that convinces them they’re not a bad person.

But Clara? Just flatout said she’s against women with women and men with men, and it’s not in the Bible and not what God wants.

Cookies for Clara. Seriously. I used to think that I couldn’t be friends with someone who thought like this…but…well…I am just not offended by her opinion. First of all, I view it as just that. I am not one of those people who thinks everyone has to agree with me about gay rights or else it means something really horrible about who they are or for my life. Her opinion does not make or break gay rights or any of my personal relationships [or lack thereof, on both counts]. She does some little bullschitt job for a major international company. Seriously, gay people, people who do little bullschitt jobs don’t mean schitt, unless they’re trying to cause you physical or financial harm.

Second, I don’t equate what she said to saying she hates gays/lesbians, and I think that’s the mistake most gays/lesbians make. Like I’ve written before at this blog, it’s about knowing how to read people. Even before our discussion about gays/lesbians came up, we talked about interacting with people. And she correctly pointed out several times that she talks to everyone. So, do I think she’d stop being friends with me if she knew I am a lesbian? No. Would she treat me differently? Yes, in the sense that it would end up part of our conversations and jokes/teasing, because that’s how she is. We talk candidly about all kinds of things most people wouldn’t, especially two people from different racial backgrounds. And she’s one of those rare women who doesn’t get offended by anything you say, and I always like to say I’m the same way.

So, no, I don’t have a problem with someone not bullschitting everybody, for a change, about her opinion on gays and lesbians. Of course, I had to give her a hard time about it, but she didn’t backtrack or try to clean it up–she stuck to what she said. I can’t stand people saying racist or homophobic schitt, then coming back with fake apologies and proclaiming they’re not racist/homophobic. We’re all racist, and we’re probably all homophobic to some degree, too. If you own your truth, I will respect it.

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Anderson Cooper’s Coming Out Is Not News

I definitely have stories about work, but I think I’ll try to save those for a while.

Right now, I’m thinking about this Anderson Cooper crap. In fact, I hate to even blog about it in a way, because I feel it draws even more attention to something that just doesn’t need the amount of attention it’s receiving.

Look, I belong to several minority groups, including the so-called LGBT “community.”

But I don’t understand the hoopla surrounding Cooper’s coming out.

And I don’t just mean that in the sense that “everyone already knew.” I mean that to ask “why is coming out news?”

I get that these people are celebrities. I get that some of the ones who have come out have always portrayed a heterosexual image, some of the images hyper-heterosexual, a la Ricky Martin (even though he didn’t fool a lot of people). I know that a lot of people make assumptions that lead them to conflate or equate–sometimes incorrectly–not announcing a homosexual orientation with shame and/or self-hate. And I know that many people believe that the more people coming out and being visible, the more it helps gay people and gay rights.

I think coming out is an individual thing. I know it’s a cultural thing…meaning that white Americans can feel a lot more safe coming out than so many other other people can and can believe in the importance/necessity of coming out in a way that not everyone else can. It should not be mandatory just because of a belief that it hurts someone else if a totally different person remains closeted or that it helps someone totally different if you come out. The specifics of a person’s situation should matter, and I think, with very few exceptions, people should do what’s best for them and put themselves first. Standing up, standing out, being a leader, breaking down barriers…those things are not for everyone. Because a lot of other people are willing to play those roles for gays and lesbians right now, it seems as if every time you turn around there’s someone whom you can say, “Oh, he’s gay.” And the more true that becomes, the more I fail to understand why some people think every gay person coming out is totally necessary or why every time a gay celebrity comes out it’s news on the level of missing children and serial rapists that has to be written about or discussed for two weeks. Then again, all kinds of garbage is considered news nowadays.

There is already such normalcy to being gay in the US, to the point where I’m not sure coming out is the big story anymore. It’s not perfect. I’m here to tell you as a black person that it never will be perfect for gay people. It certainly will never be perfect for gay black people. There are other issues gay people are facing, but those issues aren’t so much about visibility as they’re about setting a precedent. If gay people are trying to get married, get divorced or have children, that’s beyond being about visibility and coming out. So are legal rights and issues of discrimination, really. The acceptance thing, though? I mean, generally the issue of getting others to accept gay people? I don’t know about you, but as a 30-something I’m beyond the idea that people are going to accept me or that I can somehow make people accept me. As I wrote before on this blog, my default position is that at best most people just don’t give a shit about me. And that would be true regardless of my race, sexual orientation or sex–those things just make my default position even more true.

I’m sorry, I just don’t see where Coop’s coming out is a congratulatory thing or a newsworthy thing. The dude didn’t just win the Nobel Prize–he indirectly told us something about himself, his private self. I don’t see what step that is towards gay people being accepted or not being discriminated against, particularly as someone who can look back at history, the marches, the legal battles, integration and compare it to my current life and–yeah–my life is better than that in many ways, but I still can’t say that I feel racially accepted in the US. And I can tell plenty of personal stories about racial discrimination. And if not coming out before meant he was ashamed before…for me, that’s his business. I think plenty of people, gay and straight, are on the record as not seeing anything to be ashamed of regarding homosexuality. Some people are ashamed, some people will be ashamed and many people aren’t and won’t be. What can we really do about that? There are always people who are ashamed of who they are. We can’t force everyone to be the same, to think the same or to accept themselves.

Have coming out and increased visibility led to more acceptance? Certainly. But is there going to be a plateau point or even a point of diminishing returns? Probably. And I think a lot of people are at the point where they hear another famous person has come out, and they’re almost more intolerant just because they’re tired of these types of stories. To me, for being gay to truly be seen as normal, we have to at some point move away from announcing every gay person to, for example, just letting them go in public with their same-sex partner and just letting that speak for itself. At some point, that needs to be okay instead of taken as shame just because someone is not giving the media direct quotes to plaster all over every media outlet. And a logical explanation for not coming out, such as the one below, should be acceptable instead of assumed to be shame:

Since I started as a reporter in war zones 20 years ago, I’ve often found myself in some very dangerous places. For my safety and the safety of those I work with, I try to blend in as much as possible… -Anderson Cooper

Again, there probably needs to be more recognition and acknowledgment of the fact that, although the American society is not 100% accepting, it’s far more accepting–including black Americans, who are often made out to be the bad guys–than many other nations, cultures and societies are.

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