How Lame your Adversary Actually Is

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Above is a picture of me, feeling happy with who I am. It been a journey, to get here.

I’ve been musing about what makes t-girls, gay people, etc. beat ourselves up to where we’re deeply ashamed of who we are, until we learn to reject the notions of bigots, and judge ourselves (and the bigots) objectively.

Sometimes, the damage is caused by an adult who’s close to us when we’re young, and who admonishes us directly with rants like: Until you change your sinful ways …
– You’re disgusting, or
– God hates you, or
– You’ll burn in hell, or
– You’ll be an outcast.

Often the person who says these harmful things is an authority figure in the young person’s life. A great response by the young person would be “You’re welcome to your opinion — not that I asked you for it. But, your opinion is just an opinion, and it doesn’t seem a well-reasoned one, at that. If I cared enough, I could debate you on merit, and I’d probably win. Regardless, I’m lowering my estimation of your mindset based on what you’ve just said.”

Too often, the young person instead silently accepts the premise that he or she is indeed a bad person.  What makes it worse is that these are not changeable traits. There is no scientific basis for the notion that a gay person can become un-gay, or a trans person can become non-trans, if sufficiently badgered. At most, the person can suppress and/or hide being gay or trans.

More typically, the negative self-image isn’t the result of a direct personal attack, but more an attack on a particular attribute, such as being trans or being gay.

The main point of this article is that it’s hardly ever a well-reasoned attack. It’s snide and petty … and yet it seems to speak for the entire sub-culture.

An example is where a dozen people (e.g., neighbors, friends, family) are watching a football game on TV, and then cued by something or other, one jerk says (over the heads of the others) to his buddy jerk, something like “probably another goddamn homo” and the other one sneers back with something like: “yeah, like that [insert name of someone known to be gay here] idiot.” The two of them snicker, swig some more beer and then that’s the end of that discussion. Their snide comments might include off-color or sordid sexually-themed remarks too.

Some people will snicker along, some might nod, some might be quiet, some might frown. A female authority figure might scold the two jerks and tell them to behave, but the concern would more typically be their rudeness rather than the issue at hand.  The bottom line is that the people in the crowd would each conclude: “wow, this group of people all seem hostile to someone being gay.” If someone in the group IS gay, he or she probably feels isolated and alienated.

And yet, the intellectual content of the anti-gay discussion was zero. It was simply two bigots voicing their dumb-ass opinions inappropriately on an issue where they’re both clueless. Even so, they have become the unanimous spokespeople of that small group. Besides, it’s often the host who is exercising his right to speak his dumb-ass mind in his own place.

It’s a rare person who speaks out immediately and effectively against such remarks. Besides, if the host is one of the bigots, challenging him might be misconstrued as challenging his right to freedom of speech, when in fact the challenge, if precisely stated, would be to the merit of his opinion, not his right to have and voice his opinion.

Maybe a good thing to do would be to speak up and say: “I just wanna speak up and go on record as being in basic opposition to the premises you two seem to be operating on.”  However, few people will speak up like that, in opposition to bigotry. And yet, that’s what it takes … because silence can imply consent, and if everyone is silent, then it implies consensus.

Imagine you’re a gay person, or a trans person, in a context where two bigots have just made derogatory comments about someone being gay or trans. Imagine what a difference it’d make to how you would feel if the others were silent, vs. if one brave person spoke up in opposition. Now imagine how you’d feel if everyone except those two bigots spoke up and went on record as opposing their bigotry. And imagine how the bigots would feel, in each these three alternate scenarios.

Regardless, the snide comments are utterly devoid of merit.  But if they go unopposed, they can cause much emotional hurt to someone with the trait that was just criticized.

My suggestion is that you think back at how clueless the jerks are, whose opinions underlie their animosity to who you are, as a gay or trans (or BDSM or poly-amorous or sexually intense or whatever) person. Then, you can realize how little these opinions should matter even though at the time they came across as scary and socially powerful. Ideally, realizing this can help you revise how you evaluate, and eventually feel about, yourself.

A friend of mine is gay, and she once engaged her father in an informal debate on homosexuality since the father is a fundamentalist Christian with fervently anti-gay notions. What she learned was that the man’s own intellectual foundation is the size of a postage stamp. Most of his opinions were the result of uncritically regurgitating the notions of his fundamentalist Christian group-think. For example, as I recall how she described the conversation, his main issue with gay people is that, well, gay men are icky. Wait, what? They’re icky? How are they icky? Well, the father replied, gay men all do each other up the butt and that’s just icky. My friend ask her father why he thought anal sex was icky. Well, it’s because that’s the opining where sewage comes out, and gosh, eww.

Yep, that’s it. That’s the extent of the man’s own intellectual basis for all his anti-gay rhetoric. And how any of that would translate into what’s wrong with girls being gay, I don’t think he ever did manage to explain.

You’re probably reading the wrong blog if you need me to explain WHY the man is mistaken on both points, and even if he hadn’t been, that’s still no argument against being gay.

As a gay or trans person, if you stop cowering and you go forth and meet your adversaries head-on intellectually, you might initially be surprised at how feeble their arguments are.

 

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