This post was inspired by the Daily Prompt Unequal Terms, which asked bloggers to write a post about inequality. To write this post, I feel like I need to stand on a soap box of some sort. So, here goes.
*Steps up onto Soap Box and takes a deep breath*
Inequality is a problem that can only be solved through structural change. That change won’t happen until those of us who benefit from those structures understand and accept that the unacceptable price of our own comfort is the deprivation of others, and start demanding change.
~ Marianne Elliot
image credit: Joshua Earle
So, today was apparently Spirit Day, a day organised by GLAAD to honour those youth who committed suicide because they were bullied for being LGBT. Some people object to this, as per the following FB post:
I just heard on the radio that today is Spirit Day and people are supposed to wear purple shirts to show that they are against bullying of LGBT youth. This really bothers me because we already have Pink Shirt day as an all-encompassing anti-bullying campaign. The fact that we are supposed to wear purple on THIS day is, imo, divisive and itself has the potential to foster hatred against those who choose not to wear purple (HOMOPHOBE!). Until we have special days set aside to wear different coloured shirts in protest of the bullying of short kids, kids with acne, “geeks”, kids who can’t afford the “right” clothes, overachievers, underachievers, stoners, kids with glasses, kids who smell bad, etc etc etc, this is just another cause that fosters hatred in a veiled attempt to spread a message of “tolerance”. Pink Shirt Day IS an all-encompassing anti-bullying campaign, but apparently it’s not good enough for the LGBT cause.
Wow. Really? (This is an actual, real post, I did not make this up!) Where do I start with this one? Sure it’s easy to get my angry on, throw in all sorts of red herrings and spice it up with conflation. But, after a day of ruminating on this FB post, what really hits me is that it smacks of heteronormative superiority. Referring to the LGBT cause sounds patronising at best and trivialising at worst. And suggesting that LGBT bullying is not a serious issue that needs its own platform, well, that seems to border on the offensive. While I chose the word offensive, I really wanted to use the word homophobic. Why? Well, allow me to answer a question with a question. How can a campaign that supports LGBT youth and draws awareness to the bullying and abuse they suffer possibly be veiled hatred? I have mulled this question over in my mind. I don’t have the answer. Only more questions. Such as, why does supporting this cause nullify other causes? And, perhaps this is a naive one, but, why so much resistance to the promotion of LGBT tolerance? Do these opponents feel challenged in their own sexuality? Do they really feel like promoting tolerance of what they consider alternative lifestyles is hatred? In my mind this very notion seems somewhat hateful to me! Plain and simple, this is a manifestation of the patriarchy, and it’s ensuing misogyny.
The bottom line is LGBT bullying/abuse/persecution is a form of sexual violence. Yes, I just wrote that. The sole underpinng of LGBT bullying is sexual, people being persecuted and abused for their sexual orientation and their rejection of the gender binary. This makes it particularly vulgar and hateful. Because it’s about sexuality and power-wielding together. Because it’s about telling people that their bodies are wrong and less-than. Because it’s about telling people that they’re not worthy of society, because of their bodies, because of their sexuality. Because it’s a manifestation of patriarchy, a system so embedded in our thinking that we don’t often realize it. Think about it. Why is being a gay man an affront to machismo? Because of its association with marianismo, the notion that women are inferior and passive creatures. And, wouldn’t you know it? This seems to point to misogyny.
Imagine that. Just imagine that.
*Steps down off of Soap Box then dusts self off*