“There is a lot of brokenness in the Gay community” once said a friend of mine during a conversation we were having on his porch about what life is like inside our borders. Eventually, I would have to agree with him.
There are many individuals who, as children, did not have their emotional process affirmed or accepted, because of parents and caregivers being dismissive of their gender identity/expression or fluidity during their growth and development; a painful journey for many and certainly one, in which anyone who has gone through it in their childhood, leaves residual, emotional scars.
Brokenness can be seen within our borders with the use of drugs and alcohol; measures to self-medicate are not all that unusual. Brokenness can be witnessed among those who are religious addicts who have swapped out chemicals for religion. Then there are those who are unable to stop the G-d talk or giving lectures to the point of saturating and driving everyone away; compromising friendships.
Another friend once said “We have allies who try to convince us that they are our best friends and have our best interests at heart. Don’t believe all of them.” She was referring to outside of our borders and in particular, referencing straights who claim to be allies, because they happened to like gays. What does it take to be an ally for any cause? Isn’t it good enough to like gays?
Good allyship requires training and education on the culture the ally supports. Allies who do not seek proper training and education fail to understand the dynamics, the history of how critical issues played a force in the human rights movement and they won’t know how to hold a conversation if the translation of language is not well understood, so in seeking information it is equally important to speak with individuals who are able to translate the gay language. Speaking on issues which affect the rights of a human population requires having the conversations, being able to participate in dialogue and agreeing to remove all caution and stop signs and signals in order to keep the dialogue flowing and moving forward. Once censoring is employed traffic jams occur and the conversation stops; imploding the process. We welcome allies who are schooled, but we run from those when we see the damage that was done because they failed to understand their position on issues affecting the oppressed group.
“Straights who think they can speak for the LGBT and who claim they give LGBT a voice is somewhat insulting”, said another friend of mine. “We have a voice. We aren’t heard because they don’t want to hear what we have to say. Big difference!” We hear the expression Giving Voice, a lot.
Do people realize how this is perceived by those, whose voices are never heard, because they either are not invited to the table or if they are they are overshadowed by the greater force? Do people realize that when they speak out on behalf of the marginalized group that this is still not really giving the individuals of the oppressed group their voice? Do they not realize that the more they speak out, swapping places and swapping expressions, which originated with the oppressed group, that they are partaking in silencing the very group to whom they should be giving the stage?
Another friend of mine said this … “They don’t really respect us; if they did then they would ask for our insights and knowledge on the subject.” We see LGBT human rights groups send in straights to serve as leaders and role models for LGBT organized action as if the LGBT movement for decades has never had any experts in this realm.
LGBT see B.S. a mile away. We recognize mixed messages in a heartbeat. We see patronizing behavior coming before the person finishes delivering. This stems from years of marginalization, having to identify sublimable behaviors and messages. When we witness this within organized groups for action we see the writing on the wall.
My personal accounting, living as a gender fluid queer, has been agonizing – while at other times – liberating when I surround myself with other queers who understand the language and the power in words to help raise awareness of a subculture within a culture. When we are prevented or reminded of who we are through messages from well-meaning straights that sound something along these lines, … “Why do you have to talk the gay stuff all the time?”; we realize we don’t have the same rights to joke or have access to conversations unless they are heteronormative. The conversations are driven down a one-way street. The traffic only flows in one direction. To cross over into other lanes of identities and discussions becomes a hazardous endeavor.
I can talk the gay talk, walk the gay walk, live and breath the gay who I am, but only if I am with gays. This privilege is not extended to me once I cross into the hetero world of those who practice living heteronormative lives as cisgenders in a binary world. I have watched the gay community agree to the limit setting imposed on them by cisgenders.
Even in our gay community, we have people who don’t want to move away from heteronormative roles. It is perplexing to me how someone can be gay and be so closed off to the rest of the gay culture. These individuals are equally as guilty as those who refuse to listen and learn about the gay cultural movement.
My friend was correct. We are a broken community inside our borders, but we are also witnessing the brokenness outside of our borders from cisgender allies who insert themselves, uninvited and challenge our gender non-conforming behaviors, swapping the language and describing those who are gender benders and non-conformists as aggressive and angry while they would herald these qualities in cisgender men, challenge these qualities in women and the LGBT.
Privilege is a lovely thing to have, but it is only lovely when you recognize it and appreciate having it. It is an ugly thing when it becomes a power struggle, leads to entitlement and superiority; egomaniacal individuals who need their egos fed at the expense of another end up serving in roles as predators looking for a host on whom to feed and in the end serve only their own best interests.
If we could just stand up for each other, be kinder and forget what it will do for our popularity, we would actually get somewhere to civil and the world might be a better place for all of us. It must start with language and not just a few words as this would abandon the rest of the gay culture. A lesson which could easily apply to any oppressed group.
Bring out the dictionary and let the lesson begin with words.
For more information on good allyship please select the link below.