It’s amazing what people think they can say to you.
“I mean, I don’t accept your lifestyle, but we can still be cool.”
Whatchu mean you don’t accept my lifestyle, but “we” can still be cool? Who the fuck do you think you are?
I’ve pretty much had it with benevolent acceptance of willful ignorance. If cats are on stupid shit, I feel compelled to not only be intolerant of it, but also to call it out when I see it.
As a political scientist, I’ve learned that politics depends on an analysis of relationships — interpersonal ones as well as those between individuals and institutions (government, church, etc.). It’s the interpersonal ones that inform policies and can alter the ways we relate to our institutions. For this reason, I always find it interesting that Presidential candidates seek to pander first to the wholesome folks of middle America, and those good and honorable patriots in the South (whose schools and highways still bear the names of Confederate generals). The rationale is that these people consistently vote, and consistently vote conservatively. But do the politicos ever stop to consider why? In theory, conservatism is a fine ideological perspective, but it thrives on a fear of the unknown. Ideological conservatism appears incapable of conceiving of an “unfamiliar” that isn’t also automatically construed as “worse and/or less than” that which you know.
I told my mother I was gay almost 7 months ago, and it has gone better than I had hoped in some respects, and worse in others. My father is rational and understands that having a girlfriend instead of a boyfriend doesn’t make me any less extraordinary as a human being, nor any less productive as a citizen of the world. My mother, on the other hand, has declared all out war with my sexuality and with me. Initially, I understood her hurt and her shock. Assumptions are comfortable until the assumption of your greatest fear gets confirmed. It takes people time to grapple with new realities. I get that, and I respect that position.
My tolerance ends at the notion that because I am gay, my lifestyle (I’ve grown to loathe this word) is less serious than the “normal” heterosexual lifestyle. This gay thing must be a phase, or I must hate men because of some awful affront they (yep, all of ’em) perpetrated upon me. Or perhaps I’m confused because I secretly want to be a man.
I call bullshit. Thinking this way is evidence of one’s lack of exposure to diversity, both cultural and intellectual.
It’s one thing to not know the various incarnations of everything in our vast universe. It’s quite another, however, to be so arrogant about shit you don’t fucking know. People have gone out of their way to ensure that gay men and women aren’t allowed to marry or adopt children, or serve openly in the military. This obstruction of equality indicates that the only legitimate kind of love exists between heterosexuals. This is the kind of logic that would support two crack heads getting married on a whim in Vegas, or a woman who meets, courts, and selects a fiancé from a pool of 25 on national television. And speaking of crack heads, I remember when the former mayor of DC, Marion Barry, weighed in on marriage equality. He was against it because…well, it doesn’t even matter why. This cat got caught trying to fuck around on his wife, while snorting a crack rock. But Mayor Barry and his constituents think they should be able to tell me that I can’t marry my girlfriend. “…but we can still be cool.” This is the hubris of heterosexuality, and fuck that.
Despite having had beautiful and fulfilling relationships with the women in my life, my mother is convinced that what I’m missing is a man to make me the “apple of his eye.” There is nothing more infuriating to me than the assertion that I need a man to validate me, my womanhood, or my person-hood. The idea that a woman hasn’t yet reached her full potential until she’s the apple of some man’s eye … Yeah, fuck that too.
I’ve lost all patience with folks’ “tolerance” of my “lifestyle,” as if how I live is fundamentally different from the way most others live, or as if they’re projecting heterosexual benevolence and doing me a favor. And fuck that. My relationships are an extension of all that I am; they are loving human interactions with wonderful human beings. I don’t care what peoples’ religious, traditional, cultural, and personal dispositions are, or why they are. But I know that being gay has never defined me; being authentic about who I am as an individual, however, has. Thus, the proper respect for me and mine, is absolutely non-negotiable. And if one cannot accept that, then no. We can’t be cool. He or she has more life work to do.
And finally, because I’m gay doesn’t mean I automatically want you, ma’am, to ride this ride. There are standards, and being a woman is merely the beginning.