Don’t worry Straight People…
The gay people making your coffee, cutting your hair, putting your kids to bed – those people aren’t going to be affected by the concentration camp in Chechnya.
Well, not directly.
Obviously, when a big story like this breaks – it stirs people up. Nobody likes injustice, and there’s plenty injustice going on these days. But, what about when a big story like this DOESN’T break? When the media would rather prioritize airline customer service or The White House’s latest public relations gaffe… When an oppressed minority is being rounded up, tortured, “re-educated” and killed – it sends a clear message to LGBT folks. It says something we’ve felt for a long time – that our stories don’t matter. It tells us that our suffering, our injustices don’t matter to straight people. So much so, that they don’t even want to hear about it. Or, if they do hear about it, that they’re allowed to shrug it off. Leave it on Facebook. Leave it on Twitter. Turn off the television.
And hey, I get that too. Gay people certainly matter, but at dinner time your kids lives matter the most. You’re allowed that. You’re allowed to have your own small or large family and care primarily about it. The world is tough and brutal and you can’t give too much of yourself to any one pet issue or you won’t have anything left for the people who care about you, who depend on you.
But those LGBT people making your coffee, cutting your hair, putting your kids to bed… they’re still there. They still have a dramatically higher suicide rate. Statistically, they still die decades earlier than you do. It’s more difficult for them to get hired at your office, to sell their story idea, to find someone to make a life with. All these things are still true for them. And unlike women and people of color – there is still plenty of 100% legal discrimination against them. So, I can’t say it’s the same thing as racism or misogyny – not only because I don’t claim membership in those subjugated groups – but also because homophobia is not the same thing. It’s in a completely different category. It’s insidious and ubiquitous and we are never ever free of it even in our own rooms late at night when we have those awesome gay orgies you will never ever have or get to be part of.
They’re great, though. Trust me. You’re missing out.
(I’m sitting in my car working on this draft and I just heard one guy call another guy a faggot and instinctively I locked the door. This just now happened right this moment. It’s mild but it’s homophobia and it affects my life every single day.)
And, I guess that’s what I want you to know, Straight People. Just, not to worry! Things are fine for me – I did lock the car just now but come on – I live in a first world country. I have over ten pairs of shoes. I see a dentist once in a while. I have a therapist. I don’t live in some world where I’m constantly oppressed.
I live in a world where I am subtly oppressed. Every show is about you guys! Even shows about us are about you! Will and Grace had more straight characters than gay. So does Modern Family. Every movie is about you guys! You guys chasing your dreams! Having your own bio children! And sometimes you throw in a gay character, but come on – it’s never about us. This Oscar season was about us, a little, and we liked it – thanks! But, by and large it’s never about us. And, we pretend we are fine with that. But, we’re not. Not really. If we were fine with that, why would we still be killing ourselves in alarmingly disproportionate numbers? If we were okay, why would our rates of overall happiness living in gay areas be disproportionately less than other minority groups in their areas? We grin and bear quite a bit about this lovely, nearly perfect society you straight people have created. But we don’t love having to pretend we’re okay almost fitting in here. Almost having civil rights. Almost having significant representation in the media.
I think it might be because we as a society haven’t truly unpacked our homophobia.
I’m sorry, Straight People. I’m getting sidetracked. I meant to say, don’t worry. And, as sarcastic as that might come off, I really do mean it. For the most part I’m fine. I live in LA, and I have a pretty good life. I never subscribed to the victim narrative/mentality and I still don’t. I honestly don’t want you worrying about me.
But yesterday something happened with me. I got so irritated about the media’s news cycle. United Airlines, Spicer’s latest hoobledy-do, and Trump’s Syria attack – all big stories, mind you. But another story was only being reported by a few esoteric media sources – and that story wasn’t about one man injured on a plane by incompetent security. It was about how the Chechnyan government kidnapped dozens of gay men for applying for a pride parade license. They were beaten and tortured with electricity. They were humiliated. Three of them were killed. Alvi Karimov denied any of this, saying “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic.” He also said that if there were such people in Chechnya, their relatives would deal with the problem by sending them where they could never return.
Our television media didn’t even report it. Our social media outrage furnace was busy with United Airlines.
People treated me like I was gauche for bringing it up in polite conversation.
Straight People. Treating me like I’m a ‘bummer.’ For bringing up a news story that happened that day.
People! You silly Straight People! I’m not angry! I’m well beyond anger here. I’m profoundly disappointed in your dismissive behavior. It doesn’t ruin my life – I’m fine, don’t worry – but it creates a profound disappointment in the world. It makes my world (composed mostly of you Straight People) a little less optimistic. And that’s entirely your fault. It is! You know it is, and you’re not sorry and maybe you shouldn’t be, I don’t know. It’s just humans being humans, after all.
But what I wanted to say, Straight People, besides I love you, and don’t worry – I wanted to say that I forgive you. It’s okay. I understand it’s been a stressful six months of American history we’ve all lived through. I get that you had to get a sitter to go to the Woman’s March, and that you were out proving your wokeness and you went to the airport to protest the travel ban and now you’re running out of steam. And, I forgive you. You don’t have to jump on my pet issue the very second I start crowing loudly about it on social media. I forgive you for not being outraged when the story breaks. Or in this case, not being outraged because the story doesn’t break. You guys are usually pretty cool, and are probably exhausted by this craziness we have to deal with since we elected a game show host to lead the free world.
I forgive you, Straight People. I don’t forget – that’s too much to ask -but I forgive you!
And, that gay person who makes your coffee, cuts your hair, puts your kids to bed? – that gay person probably forgives you too! Maybe? I don’t actually speak for them. Maybe they’re slowly poisoning your coffee. That’s really between you two. Actually, just make your own coffee for a while.