Actor Josh Hutcherson recently won GLAAD’s Vanguard Award. This award is presented to entertainers who have made significant contributions to the promotion of LGBT equality. Hutcherson, who was in a little movie you may have heard about called The Hunger Games, won the award for his work with the Straight But Not Narrow campaign.

During his acceptance speech at the 2012 GLAAD Media Awards, he said:

I’m so sick of saying the words “gay” and “lesbian”—like, just people.I’m so tired of that. One day I want my son to come home from school and be like, “I found this guy and I love him!” and I’m going to be like, “Yes, you do, and that’s okay!” Like, you know, I so want that.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but this annoys me to no end.

Members of a privileged class talking about how they are so annoyed with words used by oppressed people to describe their identities does not give me much confidence in the privileged person’s status as an ally. When you seek to erase these words, you are seeking to erase people’s identities and experiences.

I do not understand this drive to erase difference. I thrive on difference and diversity. I don’t want there to be no more differences between people. Difference is a good thing!

More to the point, not all queer people want these identity markers to be erased—and it is quite presumptuous to assume that we do. These are the same sorts of things we hear when people believe we are in or should be in post-racial and postfeminist times. These assertions usually come from people not of the oppressed groups. Part of being an ally means accepting the ways that oppressed peoples talk about themselves. This means not being annoyed or sickened by the words people use to identify themselves.

My suggestion to those who wish to be allies: accept our differences, and don’t try to erase our identities by making us more like you. And Josh, we are already in times where your son can come home and you can be happy about him falling in love with whoever he wants. And it won’t require you rejecting whatever words he might use to describe his identity.

This post is cross-posted over at Queereka. For more queer skepticism, come pay us a visit!

Will

Will

Will is the admin of Queereka, part of the Skepchick network. They are a cultural/medical anthropologist who works at the intersections of sex/gender, sexuality, health, and education. Their other interests include politics, science studies, popular culture, and public perceptions and understandings of anthropology. Follow them on Twitter at @anthrowill and Facebook at facebook.com/anthrowill.

Previous post

Skepchick Quickies 4.24

Next post

Skepchick Quickies, 4.25

154 Comments

  1. Profile photo of Improbable Joe
    April 24, 2012 at 12:01 pm —

    Well, it makes perfect sense from Hutcherson's POV. In the same way that Whiteness is an "absence of race" that many white people would like to extend to non-whites, lots of well-meaning straight people would like to imagine a world where everyone can go through life without having to declare a "team". They don't realize that 1) it is a trade-off of assimilation in exchange for cultural identity and 2) not everyone can "pass" and not everyone wants to, and 3) even if they make the trade, there's no good reason to believe that the trade will be at all worth it. How many women tried to make it in "a man's world" by suppressing aspects of their femininity, only to realize that they'll never be anything more than "that bitch" to the people they work for? How many non-whites have abandoned their culture and alienated the people that they grew up with, and they are still excluded and discriminated against. 
     
    It's a lovely, naive, and deeply deeply dumb(at best) idea to think that you can disappear problems by disappearing labels. We'll be better off in the long run to get all of it out in the open, and get people to accept differences instead of trying to make them go away and pretend that we're all really the same. 

  2. Profile photo of Luna
    April 24, 2012 at 12:12 pm —

    Just like in the N-word post, I prefer to hear opinions from gays and lesbians on this. Hopefully I'm not overstepping my bounds with my opinion then, but I agree somewhat – why should gay be the first thing people think of when they see someone? We don't think that way about straignt people, after all. When someone looks at me, I would want them to think, "Biologist, artist, mud racer, cat expert, woman". What gender I prefer is not relevant to most of what I'm proud of.
     
    It's purely individual choice, but that's my 2 cents. Why not leave it up to what each person prefers?

    • Profile photo of Will
      April 24, 2012 at 12:23 pm —

      I don't think it needs to be "the first thing people think of." But to tell me I should not refer to myself as gay because I'm just a person is insulting because it erases all of the experiences I have had due to being a gay man.
       
      Of course if someone wants to not be referred to as gay or lesbian that is their prerogative. But I'm actually advocating for choice in the matter here–I enjoy my gay identity, and for some straight person to tell me to stop using that label because they are sick of using it is obnoxious.
       
      And, as a straight person, you get the luxury (read: privilege) of not thinking about the relevance of your sexual orientation. Society implicitly and explicitly supports heterosexuality–it's ubiquitous. For queer people, we are confonted on a daily basis with heteronormativity. It is a constant barrage of messages giving us all sorts of messages about how we are weird, abnormal, non-normative, etc. Some queer people are okay with being non-normative and thrive on it, and others are not and wish to be seen as "just a person." So, it seems to me that it's easy for a straight person to think we should all be normative because straight people are already normative.
       
      What if a man told you that in your list of identity traits, that you should not refer to yourself as woman anymore, because, you know, you're just a person. Do you feel that would erase your experiences as a woman? Do those experiences have important impacts on your life that a man most likely cannot understand?

      • Profile photo of Luna
        April 24, 2012 at 12:46 pm —

        Correct me if I'm wrong, but I read Hutcherson's comment to be that he hopes his son would be thought of as just another human being who falls in love. I did not read that to mean YOU or anyone else should use any particular identity. No?
         
        There was an episode of a tv program where a nurse discovers she is attracted to women. Her new partner has dinner with her, and invites her to a gay rally. The nurse feels openly uncomfortable. She said she does not think of herself as an activist, just a nurse who likes other women. That was an eye opener for me. I don't think it was EVER implied that gays should stop trying to enlighten society, merely that some people may have their own feelings and preferences.
         
        This is slightly off topic, but I am put off when someone insists I must call myself an atheist because I don't believe in God. Well, I should be able to identify any way I damned well please. I'm not trying to compare that to being gay, which must entail all sorts of prejudice. Simply trying to point out: realize some people may want to focus on other things, that does not mean shame, it means personal preference.  

        • Profile photo of Will
          April 24, 2012 at 12:58 pm —

          I don't agree with your interpretation of his words. He said he is "sick of saying the words" because we're all just people. So, yes, he is talking about me because I use one of those words to describe my identity.
           
          Again, I am not saying that everyone must identify one way or another–that's actually what Josh is advocating. He's saying that I should accept that I'm "just a person" and stop using the word "gay" to describe myself because he's sick of using the word. There is more to being queer than "just falling in love," and, again, it seems to me that you're speaking from a place of unexamined privilege.
           
          With regards to "just wanting to focus on other things": maybe he shouldn't be accepting an award for working on LGBT equality if he wants to "focus on other things." I don't care if people don't want to identify as gay or lesbian or queer or atheist or whatever, but I do care about people who are none of those things telling people to stop identifying in those ways.

          • Profile photo of Luna
            April 24, 2012 at 1:13 pm

            I would be offended by his words as you were if he was telling the LGBT community how to identify themselves. Maybe his words were poorly chosen, the quote was confusing to me. Maybe his Straight and Narrow campaign was an important one, I'd say that would be up to you to decide, not me.

             

            What if a man told you that in your list of identity traits, that you should not refer to yourself as woman anymore, because, you know, you're just a person. Do you feel that would erase your experiences as a woman? Do those experiences have important impacts on your life that a man most likely cannot understand?

             
             
            See, now that's an interesting question. And as I mentioned in my first sentence, no one has any right to tell me how to identify. However – at my job, I prefer to be thought of as part of the team. At the same time, totally personal preference, I think that women are different in a few ways than men. We breastfeed. We may have chemical differences. We may tolerate pain better and be better nurturers. I have no problem with that, even at work as long as I get equal pay and equal treatment.
             
            Gays, on the other hand, well I don't see how they would be different at work, nor should they be labelled that way. As a woman, hey, I feel as though I do have an instinct to make food for the team and care for people (maybe some men do also, fine). Personal preference. Maybe there are cultural differences when a gay community gets together and feels sympatico, I'm not one to speak on that.
             
            Point is, there may in fact be biological differences with some women who feel a matronly role at their jobs. Gays? Not sure if everyone should have to talk about their sexual orientation. I do think the gay community faces more severe prejudice than do straight women, in some respects. I hate to see someone like Hutcherson offend the community when he is making what I see as a valid but very convoluted point. I can only hope he meant personal preference, not telling others what they should do or say.

          • Profile photo of Will
            April 24, 2012 at 1:26 pm

            Setting aside your absurd biological reductionism, it's clear to me now that you're refusing to examine your straight privilege. When I say "there is more to being queer than attraction" and you continue to focus on sexual orientation, that is you refusing to listen. Additionally, you keep putting words in my mouth–I never said people "have to talk about their sexual orientation." I'm saying stop trying to silence those of us who do want to talk about it.
             
            You probably don't realize how often sexual orientation is brought up in the work place because the majority of it is heterosexual–men saying what they did with their girlfriend/wife on a date last night, women talking about their lazy boyfriend/husband sitting on the couch all evening, or whatever. There is an implicit discussion of sexual orientation happening there that you're most likely not even recognizing. And those of us who are queer, depending on the work environment, may not feel that we can be open about our own relationships. This creates stress and can have deliterious effects on people. And you and Josh Hutcherson think the answer is to just pretend like there are no differences and we're all just people? That certainly doesn't contribute to a recognition of the unique experiences of queer people.
             
            Ultimately, it's not up to Hutcherson to dictate how queer people can/should identify–including his imagined future son. If his imagined future son wants to use the word "gay" to describe himself, that's his son's decision and not Hutcherson's. 

    • Profile photo of BeccaTheCyborg
      April 25, 2012 at 12:45 pm —

      But my queerness is an important part of me, and a part I'm proud of. As long as I have to hear straight people talk about their dates, partners, etc., orientation matters.

  3. Profile photo of Luna
    April 24, 2012 at 2:02 pm —

    @Will (ran out of reply boxes) no, you're putting words in MY mouth. I stated that there is a difference between our interpretation of Hutcherson's words. Personal preference, don't you get it? I never said you stated that people have to talk about their sexual orientation. Read my comment again, it was not in reference to anything you said.
     
    It's amusing you brought up the workplace, because I have worked with 2 gay men. Different jobs, both men in a steady gay relationship. I loved both of them. In fact, I had a crush on one worker. I suppose you're going to read all sorts of things into that, but no, I did not have any resentment towards his gay relationship. In fact, I saw both men as mentors – they were both smart, artistic, great human beings. We talked about the challenges they faced, all the time. We talked about them trying to buy a house, start a family, all that stuff. I deeply loved both of them.
     
    If there is any misunderstanding here, it is probably because I live in Massachusetts. I did my best to support MassEquality, and honestly, I am probably spoiled, because gays have a pretty decent state to live in as far as gay rights. I don't see as much ugliness as they probably do in the Red States.
     
    I don't know what the hell you mean by biological reductionism. If you want studies to show that men are biologically different than women, I shall provide them if you promise to read the studies. Do all women have that motherly instinct? Of course not. I do. That is all I am saying.
     
    Again, you misunderstand my interpretation of Hutcherson's words. I take it to mean this: NOT that we pretend there is no difference. But if I am a lesbian, maybe I don't want to be in this situation at work:
     
    Boss: have you met our new worker, Luna?
     
    HR person: Oh, you mean the lesbian girl?
     
    See what I mean? I don't go around saying, oh, I know Ted. He's that tall black guy. Instead, I would say, oh yes, he's in charge of accounting. Do you see the difference? Personal preference.  

    • Profile photo of Will
      April 24, 2012 at 2:20 pm —

      Okay, this is my last attempt.
       
      Your interpretation of Hutcherson's words is based on unexamined privilege. You and he have the luxury of thinking that talking about sexual orientation is always a preference or a choice. Because for you, it is. There are those of us who are queer that don't have the option of "passing" for straight or who don't want to pass for straight. It's easy to interpret his words as "NOT that we pretend there is no difference" when you're straight, but when someone says they're "sick" of using words that I identify with and says we're "just people," that is most certainly an attempt to erase difference. We're not just people–we're gay people. There's nothing wrong with that label, despite him being "sick" of using it.
       
      I didn't bring up the workplace–you did. Not sure what your anecdote has to do with whether or not queer people should continue to identify using certain words.
       
      The misunderstanding does not stem from you living in Massachusetts, it stems from your unexamined straight privilege. Gays in Massachusetts still do not have the same rights as heterosexual couples, even though they have marriage equality. Until there is a federal recognition of marriage equality, they still lose that recognition as soon as they go to a state that doesn't recognize it.
       
      What I mean by biological reductionism is that you're reducing women's roles in the workplace to biological functions. It's absurd and offensive. I study gender and sexuality, I don't need you to send me any evopsych articles reducing people to false assumptions about biology.

      • Profile photo of Luna
        April 24, 2012 at 2:33 pm —

        I do get your point Will, and hopefully I said it enough times that you believe me – I have no idea what a gay or lesbian person must face on a daily basis. I don't get it now, nor will I ever. As a woman working in biology, I have been dismissed (along with some other women workers) as "that girl biologist". Well I don't want to be "that girl biologist". I just want to be, "that biologist". That is my point.
         
        Do I need to erase my identiy as a woman? Of course not! Neither should someone who is gay. But there are many facets of my life, of my career, of my personality. I am a woman, but that is not all I am. I am not AT ALL reducing women's rolls in the workplace. I have worked with new moms, one of them was my boss. While she was at work, she played the roll of mom as well as my boss. She can do both. That is the important part.
         
        Now, should women play any particular role in the workplace because of their femininity? Hell, no. They can make the choice to have any kind of roll they damn well please – including CEO, accountant, field worker, new mother, or a combination. YOU are the one who seems to be limiting that choice for me as a woman.
         
        Gays can use any words they want – it is none of my business. Another example – at my graduate school I referred to one of the professors as "African American". A black man standing by stepped in, and told me, "We are NOT African American. We are BLACK".
         
        See what I mean? Everyone has their own ideas on this. That is all I'm saying. Get it?

      • Profile photo of Luna
        April 24, 2012 at 2:39 pm —

        ps Will (follow up to my very last comment) I DO NOT like the idea of post-anything as though it is not important any more. I am grateful for those speaking out every day. I am simply supporting individualism, and perhaps introversion of some people who wish to remain in the shadows. I can somewhat relate to that, I prefer for people to know very little about my private life. Nothing to do with gay awareness, simply my hermit preferences when it comes to my life. I hope plenty of the LGBT community continue to speak out.

      • Profile photo of mraby
        April 24, 2012 at 3:05 pm —

        Great post Will, and you have shown an amazing amount of patience with Luna here. Oi vey! 

        • Profile photo of Luna
          April 24, 2012 at 3:09 pm —

          Wow, that was profound. Working hard to move the conversation forward, I see. Not cowardly at all.

          • Profile photo of mraby
            April 24, 2012 at 3:40 pm

            If you want me to spell it out:
            You've made a bunch of long rambling comments that I frankly can't even follow.  Will has repeatedly brought it back around to his main point about straight priviledge. You won't respond to his point or examine your own priviledge, so I don't think the conversation should go any further. Will did his best, and now I've done mine. If you don't get it at this point, you're not going to. 

  4. Profile photo of zylla
    April 24, 2012 at 2:08 pm —

    I haven't read all of his speech, just the snippet here, but it seems to me that he's talking about how straight people tend to reduce gays to their label and ignore everything about them except their sexual orientation and view them as odd, or wrong, or other than human. His comments were poorly phrased and he is definitely coming from a position of privelege, but I think he meant well (hence the award he received).  And I completely see your point and agree with your point of view.

    • Profile photo of Will
      April 24, 2012 at 2:29 pm —

      Of course he meant well. I don't think he's some closet bigot who secretly hates gays and lesbians. But intent is not magical. Whether he intends to do good or not, his comments come across as advocating for a post-queer mentality, like those labels are just not important anymore. I see very strong parallels to post-racial and postfeminist musings, which are often (though not always) based in the best of intentions.

  5. Profile photo of Wilson
    April 24, 2012 at 2:50 pm —

    There are a lot of gay people out there who do say that they "don't want to be labeled." Maybe it's because I'm both an engineer and and English major, but I don't get that. Labels, verbal or visual, tell people important things about you, like whether you are sexually available to them. That is especially important for communities that are as small and hidden as the gay community is. Hitting on people is hard enough without having only a 3-5% chance of then getting the odds straight people get.
    Anyway, it is up to the individual, but we have a differentiating label for a reason. Gay people are different. It's not the difference that's the problem, but how people respond to it. I see both sides of your debate Luna and Will, and I think you both mean well. Will just understandably has emotional history with the subject. Just like feminists, we get told not to "flaunt" that we're gay, not to make a fuss, and "just be normal" already. A lot of us are proud of overcoming that to step forward and claim the label.

  6. Profile photo of PrimevilKneivel
    April 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm —

    When you seek to erase these words, you are seeking to erase people’s identities and experiences.

    Who's speaking for the thoughts and desires of others now? 

    I understand your position and I think it's valid, but I also think you're projecting the meaning behind it onto what he said. For most straight people those words are used to either condemn or support LGBT people. I too am sick of those words in that context.
     
    What he said could be worded better but I don't think he should be condemned for it, just educated a little. 
     
     

    • Profile photo of Will
      April 24, 2012 at 3:25 pm —

      Tell me, how should queer people make sense of their identities and experiences if they are discouraged from using certain words because some straight guy is sick of using them? Why do straight people get any say in how we talk about ourselves, including the words we use to express our identities to straight people?
       
      I'm doing exactly the opposite of reading meaning into his words–I'm taking them at face value. He is advocating for the discontinued use of those terms because we're all "just people." Trying to excuse his words through intent is what requires projecting meaning.
       
      I didn't "condemn" him, I spoke out against his words. I advocated for him (and other people of privilege) to stop making statements that seek to erase difference.

      • Profile photo of PrimevilKneivel
        April 24, 2012 at 6:20 pm —

        I never suggested that people shouldn't talk about thier differences, and I don't think that was Josh's point either. I think he spoke in a way that caused you and others to focus on his words and not his message.
        I also agreed with you that his words should have been chosen better.  

        • Profile photo of Will
          April 24, 2012 at 6:40 pm —

          Yes, you're right. Clearly, the problem is us queer people focusing on what people say instead of what they mean.

          • Profile photo of BeccaTheCyborg
            April 25, 2012 at 12:47 pm

            We really should devote more of our time and energy making sure we accept the good intentions of straight people, even and especially when they hurt us. 

    • Profile photo of mraby
      April 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm —

      Well, isn't this post about educating him, and us? I don't think Will's " annoys me to no end" is some kind of huge, unfair condemnation. Honestly, I'm surprised that skepchick commenters are apparently so bothered by Will's very mild post. It's pretty noncontroversial to point out that calls to get rid of identy markers come from a place of privilege–i.e. Very well-intentioned (white) people often congratulate themselves about being "colorblind," while mainly succeeding at being blind to the existence of racial inequality around them. Heteronormativity is probably even more invisible from the place of straight priviledge. 
      Maybe its just that I have no idea who Josh Hutcherson is*, but the rush to defend him against this very mild criticism seems really strange to me. 
      *I am dissertating and thus pretty much out of touch with pop culture!

      • Profile photo of Luna
        April 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm —

        @Mraby Actually I acknowleged my straight privellege about half a dozen times in my comments. Learn to read.

        • Profile photo of BeccaTheCyborg
          April 25, 2012 at 12:48 pm —

          You know there's more to it than acknowledging it's there, right? Like you have to not keep saying these incredibly straight-privileged things too?

  7. Profile photo of greenstone123
    April 24, 2012 at 3:27 pm —

    Thanks for the post! This is something that I had not thought about before. I can appreciate why those labels are important after some consideration. If someone tried to ignor or minimize 'my labels' it would be like minimizing who I am and my life experiences. In that, I would feel terrible doing that to someone else. Thanks for the post!

  8. Profile photo of James Fox
    April 24, 2012 at 3:40 pm —

    The academic, sociological, and not a little pedantic word skewering and parsing of an entertainer’s feelings and spoken emotional response makes me giddy with optimism for the broader cultural acceptance of the skeptical movement.

    • Profile photo of Will
      April 24, 2012 at 3:45 pm —

      I know, right? Because what better way to fight injustice than silence when allies say stupid things?
       
      Frankly, I'm baffled by the anti-intellectualism in your comment. Are you saying that we should not think and talk critically about what people–be they entertainers or not–say publically? Are you worried that critical thought is going to tarnish public acceptance of skepticism? Seriously?

      • Profile photo of James Fox
        April 24, 2012 at 4:40 pm —

        I was not aware that speculative language parsing had achieved recognition as a serious science. And my intellect gets crampy when presumptions and assumptions are assigned the position of foundational pillar of an absent opponent’s position.
         

        • Profile photo of Will
          April 24, 2012 at 5:04 pm —

          I see. So someone who is a member of an oppressed group speaking out against what an ally said because it repeats often-heard discourses that have the effect of erasing people's experiences is presumptuous? I've already said I have no idea what his intentions are–and that they don't freaking matter anyway. What matters are his actual words and the possible effects they have on people he claims to be an ally to.
           
          And who said anything about this being a "serious science"? Critical thinking does not require the scientific method. What, exactly, is your problem with my post? How about instead of being snarky you just out with it so we can have a serious discussion instead of dancing around your sarcasm?

          • Profile photo of James Fox
            April 24, 2012 at 11:43 pm

            I like being sarcastic and snarky, but fair enough if you’re not appreciative. I in fact don’t disagree with anything you’ve said; and certainly pointing out how statements like Josh made have the potential to cause harm and impede progress is a good thing. You’ve also said you don’t care what Josh’s intentions were, just his words. Again fair enough, but don’t you think your discussion should have moved on from Josh to address the broader issue of privilege discounting  and identity denial when it seems highly likely Hutcherson would never disagree with your position? It seems to me that the content of your post makes this a Josh problem despite your protestations otherwise; and this IMO diminishes the effectiveness of your argument. And when an argument or statement looks or sounds like a personal dressing down people will often stop listening to your content regardless of its value, and I think this is especially important when dealing with an otherwise allied person.

          • Profile photo of Will
            April 24, 2012 at 11:56 pm

            So basically, you agree with my position but stopped listening to what I said to prove a point that people will stop listening to what I said if it even has the appearance of being too personal? Clever. And totally useless.
             
            I fail to see how I made this "a Josh problem" at the expense of discussing the larger issues of privilege. In my original post, I discussed how this is a symptom of the ways privileged people use post-identity language. Many responses to my post have focused on his intentions, as if that changes his words and their effects. Certainly I would like to focus on the broader picture of privilege among allies, but that's hard to do when people post snarky, unproductive comments or continue to engage in the very post-identity "I only see people, not labels" language that I'm deriding.

        • Profile photo of Wilson
          April 24, 2012 at 5:05 pm —

          It's a little pedantic maybe, but I think it started a good discussion about a valid issue. I'm a gay man that's done quite a bit of activism and I'm learning from reading other's opinions and thinking more on my own.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          April 24, 2012 at 6:08 pm —

           
          This is just one example.  There are other examples.  Straight allies like to say this kind of stuff.  Just look in the comments!  Will was just trying to start a discussion.  How is this any different from any number of posts about what other people have said?  This isn't the first time a comment a celebrity has made has been brought up.  And this is important because this is a very current, visible celebrity who is claiming to be our ally.  He's going to have some influence.  Even if you think he's "just" an entertainer, many people WILL listen to him.  I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.  If what is being said isn't problematic — but this is.  There's nothing wrong with addressing that.  Blogs do this shit all the time.

  9. Profile photo of Luna
    April 24, 2012 at 3:59 pm —

    Let me try to clarify. Here is how I read Hutchingson's statement:
    Let's PRETEND that, in 20 years, his son turns 16. He tells everyone that he has fallen in love with a boy at school. His pastor, his doctor, his friends, his friend's Christian parents, most of them in our current atmosphere may react in disgust. Instead, Hutchinson is hoping for a world in the future where those people will react the same as if his son had fallen in love with a girl. They are not shocked, disgusted or judgemental. Instead, they FOCUS on the fact that his son is experiencing young love.
     
    Will, correct me if I'm wrong: isn't that part of what the LGBT community is hoping for?
     
    I get it, maybe that's not how you interpret his words, but I thought that was part of what he was saying about his son's future.

    • Profile photo of Will
      April 24, 2012 at 4:05 pm —

      And my response to you is the same as before: How do those reactions require no longer using the words "gay" or "lesbian"? Of course I want a world where difference is accepted and celebrated. But how does that happen when we're all "just people"? How can there be a celebration of difference if we're all the same?
       
      And assimilation is certainly what some in the queer community want–but not everyone. There is a tension between liberationist and assimilationist that goes back a long time. We are a diverse community with many (often contradictory) motives and desires.

      • Profile photo of Improbable Joe
        April 24, 2012 at 4:17 pm —

        I think that's the heart of what you're saying: "I want a world where difference is accepted and celebrated." Not "tolerated" or "erased" but "accepted and celebrated." It is often the case that people on the outside of an issue forget that language and framing are hugely important, especially from the inside. We can't reasonably get rid of words like "gay" and "lesbian" without erasing a vital part of the people who identify that way. We CAN accept and celebrate those words and the feelings and personal identity that they represent. Not just tolerate, not just make go away because they make people feel uncomfortable to deal with differences. 

      • Profile photo of Luna
        April 24, 2012 at 4:19 pm —

        There is no reason we should get rid of the terms gay or lesbian. I think assimilation versus liberation are pretty narrow categories. Maybe some in the LGBT community want both a family, white picket fence and the expression of who they are as part of the gay community. Maybe there are LGBT hermits (maybe an author) who chooses to live their life in private and they will say they are gay, but they don't feel like it's anyone's business. Hell, I know some people who will get offended if you ask them what they do for a living. It is about people's feelings of privacy.
         
        Let me give another anecdote: (and I realize the comparison is not perfect, but it's the best I can come up with):
         
        There is an Afghani auhtor. He has experienced all sorts of bigotry and hatred in his lifetime. He is a paleontologist. On his resume and his blog, he gives his Bio as a Ph.D in paleontology, he is a dad, and an author. Is it wrong he never mentions he's Afghani on his bio? He is happy to promote respect towards Afghanis and Muslims, but most of the time he is working his ass of just to make money and succeed.
        People should use the terms gay and lesbian. But in this day and age, no one should be shocked by it. On a national (and yes a state level as well) I see a lot of ugly bias but among my community, gays and lesbians are our freinds, family, coworkers, yes they face horrible adversity but I hope that lessens.

    • Profile photo of Wilson
      April 24, 2012 at 4:07 pm —

      That's what he said at the end, yes – and that might be what he meant by his entire comment, but first he said he's sick of saying "gay" or "lesbian", refering specifically to the labels. Sure we want to be treated just like everyone else – but not just(as in exactly) like everyone else. We'll still be different and will bring different experiences. There is a value in that difference, and trying to say that we're really exactly like everyone else ignores that.

      • Profile photo of Luna
        April 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm —

        Wilson, yes I agree. I would never want to see gays and lesbians not use their voices. Their words advance not only gay and lesbian causes, but feminist and other civil rights ones as well.

  10. Profile photo of nickbii
    April 24, 2012 at 4:01 pm —

    "Your interpretation of Hutcherson's words is based on unexamined privilege. You and he have the luxury of thinking that talking about sexual orientation is always a preference or a choice. Because for you, it is."
     
    Do you mean to imply that sexuality is never a choice for any non-straight person, can never in any culture be a choice, or that the world would actually be a worse place is sexuality was a matter of choice for fewer people?
     
    That's what I'm hearing from you. Hutcherson did not say anything about how you talk, or act. He said he doesn't want to have to describe his son as gay even if he likes guys. He'll do it, as he diud it in the very speech you quoted, but he doesn't want his son to be forced into The Gay Guy box. He doesn't want sexuality to be so life-defining that his son goes around insisting everyone he meets knows he's gay. In other words "if my son likes guys I don't want society to force him into defining his entire identity based on that fact." In a healthy culture that's just common sense.
     
    Granted we don't currently have a healthy culture, but that doesn't automatically mean anyone who thinks we should have a healthy culture is secretly sending money to the KKK-beat-up-gays fund.
     
    Sexuality is important, and defining for many people; but it should not have to be.

    • Profile photo of Will
      April 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm —

      Please read what I said more carefully. I am not talking about sexuality itself being a choice. I said that talking about sexual orientation is often not a choice for queer people. When a straight person talks about their relationships, they are implicitly talking about their sexual orientation. This is done on a constant basis, but straight people don't think about it as sexual orientation because of privilege. When a queer person does the same thing, we must be explicit about our sexuality because we live in a heteronormative society. And then it is is often turned around on us–we're told things like "I don't see gender/sexual orientation, I only see people" or "stop throwing your sexual orientation in everyone's faces–we're all just people." It never fails that those words fall from the lips of someone with privilege–people with the luxury of not having to consider those things on a never-ending basis.
       
      And I have no idea what you mean by a "healthy culture." But I'm sick of all this "in an ideal world" talk. We don't and we never will live in an ideal world. We live in a real world, where people are different and are proud of their differences and should not be shamed for those differences or for using certain words to describe those differences. Whatever Hutcherson's or any other person's intent, the effect is that it shames or erases difference.

      • Profile photo of nickbii
        April 24, 2012 at 11:32 pm —

        If you don't want to talk about your sexuality you don't have to. You don't have to tell your co-workers that your involved at all, much less reveal the gender of your SO. I've worked at the same place a year and a half. As far as any of them know I'm asexual. More importantly if you re-read the original quote you'll note that a) Hutcherson was actually talking his son and b) he didn't say he'd never talk about it. He said he didn't want the default conversation to be about how gay his son was.
         
        And I think I am fairly safe in the generalization that 90-99% of the time when good dads talks about their kids sexuality does not come up at all. It's probably a lower number for gay people, whose gay significant others have to be introduced to people, but even in those cases it's an odd dad who'd spend 20 minutes explaining what his son is doing with his penis to random strangers. Spending 20 minutes to defend his son's right to do whatever he wants is good dadding, but discussing your kid's sexuality in depth is Dirty Old Man creepy.
         
        As for ideal-worldism, keep in mind that without people who talked about the ideal there would never have been a Civil Rights movement, which means there never would have been a template for the gay rights movement to adapt. You do not get people to do uncomfortable things like confront biased assholes if you can't show them that the world they'll create is a lot better then the current one. I'm not gonna say Hutcherson is a great orator, as this thread pretty clearly proves he has a talent for convincing people he's saying the opposite of whay he means.

        • Profile photo of Will
          April 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm —

           

          If you don't want to talk about your sexuality you don't have to. You don't have to tell your co-workers that your involved at all, much less reveal the gender of your SO. I've worked at the same place a year and a half.

          Wow. So basically, hey queer people, you don't need to have an open, fully honest life! You can just lie or refuse to talk to people! Meanwhile, all your other co-workers are talking about their relationships and partners, but you can remain silent! It's damned if you do, damned if you dont–ostracize yourself by coming out, or ostracize yourself by not participating. Great solution there. Thanks for the support.
           
          Hutcherson doesn't have a son, he was speaking in the hypothetical, hoping for the day when we live in a post-queer world where the labels gay and lesbian no longer have importance. Anything else is you reading into his speech–I quoted his exact words, and I'm taking them at face value.
           
          I don't mind thinking positively, but the notion that we should not acknowledge difference and we should live in a world where difference doesn't matter is not ideal to me–it is hell. And I'm sick of people pushing these post-identity idealist fantasies as if they're something we should be reaching for.

          • Profile photo of nickbii
            April 26, 2012 at 2:53 pm

            Or you could just do what I did, and decide a full, honest, life, does not include telling your co-workers who your life-partner is. I haven't been ostracized. I haven't been silent. There's still plenty to talk about. Politics, sports, moms, school, co-workers, etc. are all things that your co-workers probably want to hear your take on. Master the art of changing the subject and you're probably never gonna have to talk about your sexuality. Eventually they'll almost certainly decide you're asexual, but that's them misreading your signals, not you living dishonestly. Hell even in a discussion touching on sexuality it's not hard to not mention your personal sexuality.
             
            Granted if you work a place 10 years somebody's gonna find out, but somebody isn't everybody. HR will probably have to know if your company offers benefits to gay husbands. And if you're gay that's slightly riskier then if you're straight because homophobia is a thing and heterophonia is a word I just made up. But you're implying that it's common for everybody who works at an office to know not only the exact romantic status of everyone else, but also their standards in a potential mate (in this case: gender). And that's an exageration to say the least.
             
            As for Hutcherson, I think we've said all there is to say on him. I could repeat myself, but then you'd repeat yourself, and what would be the point?
             

          • Profile photo of Will
            April 26, 2012 at 3:03 pm

            You know, I'm really freaking sick of straight people telling me to go back into the closet. That's what you're advocating, but you probably don't even realize it. Why? Because you can't see past your own privilege.
             
            I'll say this one more time, and then I'm done: I'm not advocating for forcing people to do anything. I'm advocating for my right and the rights of others to be open and honest about our lives without fear of repercussion. Your solution is completely and utterly unacceptable, and seeks to reverse decades of progress made by queer people being out and proud of their lives. I don't want people to think I'm asexual because I'm not. I want the people in my life, be they co-workers or friends or family, to know who I am. I should not have to hide aspects of my life because it makes some people uncomfortable. I unreservedly reject your call for queer people to go back into the closet.

          • Profile photo of nickbii
            April 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm

             
            I may be priveleged, but I'm a lot less self-centered then you.
             
            I never urged you, Will, to do anything. I never urged anyone to do anything this means your contention that I'm "telling you to go back into the closet" is false on it's face. I said you could have done things differently. It's exactly the same thing as saying "But you could have taken the bus instead of renting a car." 
             
            Moreover if not talking about sex at work equals being in the closet, even if all social acquaintances know you're gay, your mom knows, etc. then yes, by definiton I am saying gay people could be in the closet. But that's an extremely broad definition of being in the closet which clearly doesn't apply to most Americans, who are only work part-time (the average workweek of 34.5 hours is less then the official part-time definition of 35).

    • Profile photo of Wilson
      April 24, 2012 at 5:02 pm —

      Nickbii, I think Will is arguing that saying that people shouldn't have to be defined by their sexuality is actually a problem. People should be defined by their sexuality, along with their height, their interests, their eye color… He's saying that having a non-normative sexual orientation as part of your "definition" is a good thing, and fighting against that rejects the value to be had in having that as part of how you define yourself. Saying that everyone should just be defined as people means that no difference should be discussed or celebrated just as much as it means that no difference should be ridiculed. When you do that, you almost go full circle to essentially pushing gay people back into the closet. "You don't need to define yourself like that." Yes, we do!

  11. Profile photo of Beleth
    April 24, 2012 at 4:27 pm —

    Will, "just people" is how us privileged folks have been told by other, older, privileged folks to think of everyone, especially unprivileged folks, since our childhoods. It's been hammered very, very deeply into our psyches, and it's going to take more than a blog post or two to pry it loose.

    • Profile photo of Will
      April 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm —

      I have plenty privilege. I'm a white, able-bodied, middle-class, American, cisgender man in academia. I know what it is like to confront privilege–it requires a constant attention and, you know, not making excuses for continuing on with privileged thinking. It requires listening when oppressed people talk to me about their experiences. It requires me accepting and celebraing difference, not seeking to erase or ignore it.
       
      Anyway, I'm not quite sure what the purpose of your comment is, other than to try to dissuade me from speaking out or make excuses for privilege.

      • Profile photo of Beleth
        April 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm —

        It's to make sure you realize the size and depth of the dragon you're attempting to slay. If you choose to take that negatively or in a dissuading way, well, that's your choice. I suppose I didn't need to tell it to a cultural anthropologist with plenty of privilege, though, so I apologize for being unintentionally condescending.
        When I say someone is "just a person" I mean that I treat them without regard to attributes they possess that would historically get them treated badly by people with the attributes I possess. That's all. I'm not erasing their differences; I'm, to coin a phrase, judging them by the content of their character. And I do my best to do that to all "just people".

        • Profile photo of Will
          April 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm —

          You're doing exactly the thing that I am railing against in my post–that is, thinking that you could possible see "just people" as if that somehow means they are no longer facing privilege when in your presence. Treating someone as "just a person" necessarily erases those "attributes they possess that would historically get them treated badly" by people with privilege. It also assumes that those attributes are unimportant because you are allegedly not paying any attention to them.
           
          Pretending that you're talking to "just people" is a way for you to avoid being accoutable for your unexamined or unrecognized privilege. I mean, those differences are unimportant to you, so there's no reason to acknowledge or celebrate them. Right? This is the post-queer/feminist/racial mentality that is exactly the problem.

          • Profile photo of Beleth
            April 25, 2012 at 9:29 am

            If I treat people equally regardless of their race, gender, orientation, etc., I'm negating their differences, so I'm an inconsiderate asshole.
            On the other hand, if I treat people differently based on their race, gender, orientation, etc., I'm a racist/chauvinist/homophobic asshole.
            Either way I'm an asshole. So why bother listening to anyone or trying to change?
            When you make people who want to be your allies conclude that they are inescapable assholes, you are doing something wrong.

          • Profile photo of Will
            April 25, 2012 at 10:49 am

            You're not understanding. Why not treat them like someone who has a history and an identity that is unique and valuable? Why pretend that their history and past experiences are unimportant? That can have the effect of erasing their experiences. When you say to me, "I don't see you as gay, I only see you as a person," my response to that is (A) you're full of shit and (B) being gay is a huge part of my identity and my life, and you not acknowledging that and pretending like it's unimportant sends me the message that *I* am unimportant. And isn't it convenient for you, a straight person, to not have to think about the implications of my sexuality on my life.
             
            And, really, it's not about you. This is something that people who want to be allies need to understand. It is not about you. Sometimes you're going to be seen by people as an asshole no matter what you do. The important thing is that you're listening and trying to gain some perspective on your privilege. Stop taking it personally. What you're arguing right now is the same thing that many men argue to feminist women. "But *I* am not an asshole. But *I* care about your cause. *I* don't see gender, I only see people." And on and on. This is no different. Even if you think you're doing the right thing, what I and others are telling you is that your efforts to be color-blind, gender-blind, queer-blind, or whatever, have the effect of negating and erasing experiences. And if you want to continue to pretend like that's not happening, then you're not listening and you're not an ally, plain and simple.

          • Profile photo of Beleth
            April 25, 2012 at 12:26 pm

            Why not treat them like someone who has a history and an identity that is unique and valuable?

            That's how I treat "just people", Will. Everyone has a unique, valuable history and identity.

            When you say to me, "I don't see you as gay, I only see you as a person," my response to that is (A) you're full of shit and (B) being gay is a huge part of my identity and my life, and you not acknowledging that and pretending like it's unimportant sends me the message that *I* am unimportant.

            I see you as a person who has many unique features about them. One of those features is that you're gay. Since you and I will never have sex, it is a feature that, to me, is unimportant. But it's important to you, and that feature (that you're gay is important to you) is important to me.
             
            In other words, I don't care that you're gay, but I care that you care that you're gay, and that's why I'm not really sending the message that you're unimportant.
             

            And, really, it's not about you. This is something that people who want to be allies need to understand. It is not about you. … you're … you … you're … your … Stop taking it personally… you're … you … you're … you … your … you … you're not listening and you're not an ally, plain and simple.

            Stop taking it personally? Stop sending me mixed signals!
             
             

          • Profile photo of Will
            April 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm

            I see you as a person who has many unique features about them. One of those features is that you're gay. Since you and I will never have sex, it is a feature that, to me, is unimportant. But it's important to you, and that feature (that you're gay is important to you) isimportant to me.

            Right, because the only important thing about being gay is sexual behavior. *sigh* This is exactly what I'm talking about. You're utterly blind to your privilege. And I have a feeling that nothing I or nayone else says is going to wake you up to it.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          April 24, 2012 at 5:43 pm —

          Have you been paying attention?  Because this comment leads me to believe that you've just completely ignored the entire post and also the following comments just so you can tell us that you just "see people as people, nothing more!" even though the discussion is specifically why that is a problem and why you shouldn't say that to queer people.  ESPECIALLY when multiple queer people are trying to tell you why it is problematic.

          I apologize for being unintentionally condescending.

          Seriously?  Now you're just being passive-aggressive.  Either you've not read the post, or you're just ignoring it on purpose.  I'm not sure.  Either way, just stop it.  Stop trying to be a martyr.  Oh no.  We’re calling out your privilege!  Now you must apologize passive-aggressively because of course you didn’t *mean* to come across as condescending.  ‘Cuz telling a minority how they should feel, and how they should identify, and how you just don’t “see” that they are gay or whatever … that’s totally helpful.  Really.

          And what a load of bullshit.  I don't care how much you try to claim that you never notice when someone is different, whether it be because you know they are gay or because they are not white or maybe they have a scar on their face I don't know, but you notice these things.  And these things are often very important to people.  And you have no right to completely ignore something written by queer people because you, a straight person, "only see people".  Which, as I've said, is such bullshit.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            April 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm

            This commenting system is obnoxious.  It keeps jumping around on me in the little box.  It shouldn't have all been bolded and there is a blockquote in there somewhere.  Sorries.  I fail.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          April 24, 2012 at 5:58 pm —

           
          And let me make something very clear that is VERY important:
           
          Gay people have been invisible for decades.  In a lot of ways, they still are.

          A section of society doesn’t want them to exist.  They’ve never wanted to exist.  A section of society will ALWAYS want gay people to be invisible.  This isn’t just in America; this is all over the world.  Indeed, it is still illegal to be gay in parts of the world.  This idea that gay people are invisible isn’t something that is old history.  It is still happening all over the world – including America.  And your fantasy that it won't matter is just that:  Fantasy.  Differences will ALWAYS matter.  For good or bad.
           
          It is still perfectly legal to fire a person for being gay in some parts of our country.  Many teachers continue to lose their jobs when they come out.  Many people are still murdered just for being gay or different.  I know two gay men who were recently beat to a bloody pulp because they were leaving a gay bar.  This was  in 2012 in Tempe, AZ.  It’s not like this is Iraq.
           
          Do you know who Harvey Milk is?  You must.  His idea was that gay people had to be open and proud.  To come out, so that people KNOW people who are gay.  It’s so, so much harder to hate when you know someone personally who is gay.  This was the idea.

          AND IT WORKED!
           
          Of course, he was murdered for this idea.  Only 34 years ago.  Not exactly forever ago.
           
          Great, fine.  YOU don’t see people except as people.  Sure, whatever.  I still think it’s bullshit.  But good for you!  Shall I pat you on the back now?  Is this something that you, a privileged straight person, NEED to feel validated about?  Because I don’t think you are going to get that from any of us.  ‘Cuz honestly … I call bullshit.  And I don’t think Will buys it, either.
           
          Do you think the still fairly recent repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell happened because people were just people?  OH HELL NO.  I have volunteered quite a lot, and protested during a senate hearing – specifically protesting McCain and his stance on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  This shit is not easy and to get this kind of shit done means we HAVE to be loud and we HAVE to be open about who we are and we HAVE to be proud about it.  We can’t just sit there meekly going, “Yeah, I’m gay.  So what?”  Because it’s not “so what”.  IT FUCKING MATTERS.
           
          And I know you THINK you mean well, but you’re not helpful at all.  We get silenced ALL THE TIME from politicians and senators.  We get told we don’t exist.  We don’t need it from so-called allies on top of it.  Seriously.  It is NOT helpful.  It misses the larger picture.  It is not based in reality.  And you being passive-aggressive and condescending is not going to change that.
           
          And here is a great quote from Harvey Milk:
           

          “All over the country, they're reading about me, and the story doesn't center on me being gay. It's just about a gay person who is doing his job.”

           
          His gay is still important.  “Gay person.”  It is still part of his identity.  But it’s not the ONLY part, and not necessarily the most important.  At least in the context of his job.  Though of course, in his case, it really was important that he was gay.  He was a huge part of the early gay movement in this country.

          "I cannot prevent anyone from getting angry, or mad, or frustrated. I can only hope that they'll turn that anger and frustration and madness into something positive, so that two, three, four, five hundred will step forward, so the gay doctors will come out, the gay lawyers, the gay judges, gay bankers, gay architects … I hope that every professional gay will say 'enough', come forward and tell everybody, wear a sign, let the world know. Maybe that will help." 

    • Profile photo of Improbable Joe
      April 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm —

      Reminds me of the South Park movie:
      Cartman: 'Kyle, all those times I called you a stupid Jew, I didn't mean it… you're not a Jew.'
      Kyle: 'Yes I am Cartman! I am a Jew!'
      Cartman: 'No, no, don't be so hard on yourself!"

      • Profile photo of Wilson
        April 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm —

        Perfect.

      • Profile photo of Beleth
        April 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm —

        Indeed!

        • Profile photo of marilove
          April 24, 2012 at 5:45 pm —

          Woosh.

          • Profile photo of Improbable Joe
            April 24, 2012 at 6:47 pm

            Problem?

          • Profile photo of marilove
            April 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm

            That was in reply to Beleth.

          • Profile photo of Beleth
            April 25, 2012 at 9:30 am

            Helpful as always, Marilove.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            April 25, 2012 at 1:37 pm

            O really?  You're the one that ignored ALL OF MY ACTUAL POINTS that I laid out very patiently and very clearly in several different posts, but then decided to focus on this one little thing?  Seroiusly?  Do you EVER listen to what others have to say?  Yay!  A straight person brushes off queer people!  This has never happened to me before!!

          • Profile photo of Beleth
            April 25, 2012 at 2:09 pm

            I ignore all walls of rambling, condescending venom, marilove, not just yours.
            Don't take it personally.
             

      • Profile photo of greenstone123
        April 24, 2012 at 5:34 pm —

        NICE!

  12. Profile photo of mrmisconception
    April 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm —

    If I may offer an analogy.

    It’s the difference between saying “I wish it didn’t matter if people are gay” and “I wish we didn’t have to talk about people being gay.”

    While they use almost the same words one is an honest wish for an accepting world and the other is a personal wish for freedom from a subject that makes the speaker uncomfortable.

    If my analogy is off let me know, I want to expose my privilege; it makes it easier to see around.

    • Profile photo of Improbable Joe
      April 24, 2012 at 5:39 pm —

      That sounds about right… although I don't think the actor guy meant to sound like that, that's maybe the way it comes off. 

      • Profile photo of Will
        April 24, 2012 at 5:43 pm —

        I agree, I doubt he meant it that way. But, again, intent is irrelevant. What matters are the effects of what he's saying. And what he's saying falls into the pattern of other post-identity crap that has the effect of erasure.

        • Profile photo of Improbable Joe
          April 24, 2012 at 6:27 pm —

          Well… and it means double bad not goodness considering the audience? If someone is talking to a GLAAD audience, they should be especially careful to avoid problematic language. We all cut some slack for privilege in situations where that privilege isn't obvious and we know the person speaking doesn't mean any harm. On the other hand, if you know your audience is mostly LGBT, you should be much less casual with your speech. 

    • Profile photo of Will
      April 24, 2012 at 5:41 pm —

      You're right in that those are different sentiments. But that's not really what I'm getting at.
       
      What I'm saying is that both of those statements are problematic in my view. It does matter and it should matter if people are queer. But it should matter for positive reasons–we should be lauding differences, not seeking to erase them. That's my entire point. To me, the first statement you give is not really a wish for an accepting world but a world in which differences don't matter and are erased. We're all "just people," so we don't talk about our differences, so they're invisible. I agree completely, though, with your assessment of the second statement. ;)

      • Profile photo of mrmisconception
        April 24, 2012 at 6:31 pm —

        I may not have the exact words to express what I mean here.

        I didn’t mean it should be ignored or dismissed, just that it shouldn’t matter, much like it doesn’t matter if you have green eyes, or blonde hair, or are tall. We don’t ignore those traits but they don’t cloud our judgement.

        I understand exactly what you mean though, so I’ll leave it at that. :)

        • Profile photo of Will
          April 24, 2012 at 6:59 pm —

          Actually, at least two of those things could definitely cloud judgment. ;) (See here and here for examples.)
           
          I think you're right that our disagreement (if it even is a disagreement) seems to me more an issue of words. I think that it should matter, but not in negative ways (i.e., cause of discrimination, bigotry, etc.). You (and others) are saying that it shouldn't matter period. I just don't think that's realistic or even desirable.

          • Profile photo of mrmisconception
            April 24, 2012 at 10:37 pm

            Actually, no disagreement at all. I am just not expressing my thoughts adequately, I'll try one last time.
             
            It should matter only to the extent, and in the way, that the individual wishes it to.
            Of course it matters, it's just that it shouldn't have to matter.
             
            I hope that makes sense.

  13. Profile photo of marilove
    April 24, 2012 at 6:00 pm —

    Love this quote from Harvey Milk, which I'm going to put into its own post so that it is not missed:
     

    "I cannot prevent anyone from getting angry, or mad, or frustrated. I can only hope that they'll turn that anger and frustration and madness into something positive, so that two, three, four, five hundred will step forward, so the gay doctors will come out, the gay lawyers, the gay judges, gay bankers, gay architects … I hope that every professional gay will say 'enough', come forward and tell everybody, wear a sign, let the world know. Maybe that will help." 

     
    This is a tactic that is STILL WORKING.  Don't silence us.

    • Profile photo of Improbable Joe
      April 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm —

      I guess that's part of the thing that straight people need to be careful of saying… as a straight man, I don't want anyone to have to COME out, but I would love if everyone could BE out. It would be a better world if no one had to declare their sexuality and risk rejection and discrimination, but that doesn't mean that people shouldn't be able and even encouraged to declare who they are and get positive reinforcement from society. And maybe we'll even get to the point where all of this discussion about being "out" doesn't matter, but we're nowhere close to that now. In the meanwhile, I'm happy to work towards a world where people can label themselves as they choose, and we get busy shunning the people who have a problem with it. 

      • Profile photo of marilove
        April 24, 2012 at 8:19 pm —

        Word.  And I think, in all honesty, this is really closer to what this guy wants, but he's just … clumsy.  But he was chosen for this award and he chose to speak, so it's more than fair for us to talk about what he's said.  And it is problematic.  And the comments here prove that. 

        • Profile photo of Improbable Joe
          April 24, 2012 at 10:38 pm —

          And like I said in another post, he had a responsibility to understand his audience better than he did, so he deserves the criticism he's getting. 

        • Profile photo of Corey Feldman
          April 25, 2012 at 9:43 am —

          I agree with you. I htink his message/intent was good but the words were clumsy. 

  14. Profile photo of dr. dr. professor
    April 24, 2012 at 7:58 pm —

    I think it's funny that some people who are so enlightened about one issue (in this community, feminism) turn around and act discriminatory or insensitive towards another community.  There's a major hypocrisy problem here.
     
    Because what I hear is "Women shouldn't be objectified, but homosexuals getting upset over being told by an ally downplaying them as a group, that's silly".  I mean seriously, c'mon people.  Don't be enlightened on one issue and blind to another…

    • Profile photo of dr. dr. professor
      April 24, 2012 at 8:04 pm —

      Also, I don't mean to say feminists are all hypocritical.  I mean to say, some posters who support feminism here are being open to the issues in feminism while being closed to another oppressed group's issues.

      • Profile photo of Luna
        April 24, 2012 at 9:31 pm —

        Just curious, was that in response to me? If not, I apologize for butting in.

  15. Profile photo of kagerato
    April 24, 2012 at 9:45 pm —

    Holy flaming privilege exposure, Batman!
     
    What a thread.  For what it's worth, I think you're right about the effects of language here, Will.  We can play games with intent and interpretations and semantics all day, but that's not really at all relevant to your point.

  16. Profile photo of Luna
    April 24, 2012 at 10:05 pm —

    Wow, I sure do see a lot of very tame comments here, replied to with vile hostility. And this is consistent with many other Skepchick posts. I don't take offense to what was said by me, but Beleth was really treated like crap. What I heard Beleth say was, "yes I have privilege, so please write more posts like this to hammer some sense into our brain." Then saying "oh sorry for an offensive comment, I am not trying to be an a-hole, I try to be a good person" ,and they get another hostile response? WTF?
     
     
    What if I meet someone who is helping me get my car out of a ditch, and I think they are an amazing person, and they help me get to work on time, but I never find out that they are gay? (I also never find out their occupation, political party,etc)? Should I not have an image in my mind of their character otherwise?
     
     
    Yes the gay men I worked with were somewhat passionate about gay rights, one much more than the other. I loved them both and that is different, "judging" someone when they are very close to you versus a gay person you don't know very well. As I said a million times, I have privellege. Yes. I will never get the shit that gays must suffer. But my Dad was a hermit shut-in and I inherited that just slightly, and I totally get the desire to keep one's personal life (everything, job, where I live, who I love) a private matter.

    • Profile photo of marilove
      April 24, 2012 at 10:18 pm —

       
      Seriously? No one was being aggressive.  Will was being very, very patient and yet Beleth just didn't get it. It was like she ignored Will's entire post.
       
      But that's nice, really.  Being silenced by so-called allies, yet again.  Surprise — the majority doesn't get it.

      • Profile photo of Will
        April 24, 2012 at 10:30 pm —

        For real. I feel like we've heard these arguments before

      • Profile photo of Luna
        April 25, 2012 at 11:33 am —

        Marilove, I said like a kazillion times that the LGBT community should be loud and proud and that it would be a goddamned shame if they stopped speaking out. How is that silencing people? Explain that to me.
         
        My point, which keeps getting glossed over, is that some hermit-like people (or do you not believe gays can be very introverted?) may not want to join in and that's their right.
         
        Also I simply do not understand how you could have been offended by Beleth's comment.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          April 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm —

          My point, which keeps getting glossed over, is that some hermit-like people (or do you not believe gays can be very introverted?) may not want to join in and that's their right.

          This is hilarious because this has NOTHING AT ALL to do with our points.  This has nothing at all to do with being an introvert vs. extrovert.  The fact that you seem to think it does leads me to believe that YOU JUST DO NOT GET IT.  Plenty of introverts are still open about who they are.  You do realize that being open and honest about who you are doesn't mean you have to wear assless chaps and paint yourself in rainbow colors … right?

          • Profile photo of Luna
            April 25, 2012 at 1:57 pm

            LOL well I haven't seen assless chaps at our gay pride parades, but there's always tomorrow.
             
            I thinkYOUR point was that gays get silenced all the time. That outrageous laws against gays are still on the books, that gays are still murdered. Right? And that it seems like even your allies want you to shut up about being gay……stop me anytime if I'm wrong……
             
            If the celebrity was suggesting we get rid of the words GAY and LESBIAN, I disagree. And so do all of the allies here. But some of us thought he was saying that individuals might want to come out of the closet but be non-vocal. Okay it's not a perfect analogy, but as a vegetarian I went through a (loooong) phase where I did not want to talk about my diet. Why is that a problem?
             
            If someone is in the closet or staying silent from shame, that is unacceptable. But that's not what I'm talking about. Years ago our lawnmower guy came to our house and out of nowhere began spouting off about how pissed he was that "these gays" get to marry each other. We fired him. Because we don't want the gays in our community to have to be around that shit.
             
            We support the gay pride parade, we support people coming out of the closet. We also support whatever direction life takes them in.

    • Profile photo of Improbable Joe
      April 24, 2012 at 10:47 pm —

      Wow… Luna, just stop!
      And I'm even especially sympathetic, because I've posted stupidly out of dumb blind privilege before, but you're really digging in at this point. I mean, seriously… just stop and look at what you're saying. 

      What if I meet someone who is helping me get my car out of a ditch, and I think they are an amazing person, and they help me get to work on time, but I never find out that they are gay? (I also never find out their occupation, political party,etc)? Should I not have an image in my mind of their character otherwise?

      Did you ever consider that how you see them has nothing to do with how society sees them, or how they see themselves? Or are you too busy being self-absorbed that you can't even consider viewpoints other than your own? Your own feelings don't change the reality that other people live in, and you need to stop trying to project your perspective onto othr people.

      • Profile photo of Luna
        April 25, 2012 at 11:38 am —

        Clearly you are the one who is self-absorbed because you keep ignoring my point. The ditch analogy was to point out that gays have many aspects to their individual personalities, and it is not "Silencing" them to notice and appreciate people that way. Will sounds as though he's saying that gays should always put their gay identity first. I say, that should be their decision. In my analogies I always assume the people we're speaking about are out of the closet and do in fact help to educate people. But what about the other aspects of their personality? How can you be fair to them and not even acknolwedge they have careers?

        • Profile photo of marilove
          April 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm —

           that gays have many aspects to their individual personalities, and it is not "Silencing" them to notice and appreciate people that way

          OH WOW!  Are you serious?  This is true?  I had no idea!
           
          Oh, wait.  Never mind.  This is obvious and no fucking shit Sherlock gay people have more going for them than being gay.  I mean, as a queer person, I … kind of already fucking knew that.  And we have already mentioned this.  Yet again, you keep missing the point.
           
          And do you KNOW how fucking condescending it is to essentially set us aside and say, "Hey!  Queer people! There is more to you than being queer!"   Like this is new information for us?!
           
          You just don't quite understand what we're trying to say.  And yet you keep trying to speak from authority.  ‘Cuz as a straight person YOU TOTALLY FUCKING KNOW what it's like being queer in this world, huh?  Totally.

          Stop speaking from authority and slowly and calmly re-read what everyone has had to say here, especially Will.  And maybe myself as well.  Since we kiiind of have a better idea of what it's like to live queerly.
           

          • Profile photo of Luna
            April 25, 2012 at 2:01 pm

            Well I was stating the blindingly obvious because everyone seemed so horribly confused as to what I was talking about. I'm not trying to tell people what to do (and that is my whole point) but Marilove, you keep saying what the converstaion is NOT about. Why we are NOT getting it. Are you trying to win this debate, or are you objecting to something specific?? If you're saying the words GAY and LESBIAN should not be shut out, well we all agree on that!

        • Profile photo of Will
          April 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm —

          Will sounds as though he's saying that gays should always put their gay identity first.

          Please provide a direct quote of me saying that gays should always put their gay identity first and should have no choice in the matter. Because I never have nor would I ever say such a ludicrous thing. My point is that we should have the right to emphasize whatever part of our identity that we choose to. We should not be told that the words "gay" and "lesbian" should stop being important because we're all just people. I really don't know how else to put it so that you can understand, and I really don't feel like you're putting forth a good-faith effort to try. And that's really frustrating.

    • Profile photo of Beleth
      April 25, 2012 at 10:20 am —

      Thanks, Luna.
       
      The amount of silencing and gaslighting that goes on here at Skepchick is nothing short of amazing. Okay, maybe I'm not the World's Most Understanding Person. Maybe I'm a 7 or an 8 on the 1-to-10 scale of feminism. I'd like to be a 9 or a 10. But instead of getting pointers on how to reach that goal, I get treated like I'm some 1-or-2 white male supremacist.
       
      I take lessons learned from other sources, but when I apply them here, I get replies like… well, you've seen the replies. People tell me what not to do. No one ever says what to do.
       

      • Profile photo of Will
        April 25, 2012 at 10:52 am —

        Could you please direct me to the source that told you to reply to posts about privilege with sarcasm and passive-agressiveness? I'd be interested to see what kind of sources you're reading.
         
        It is not our job to give you directions. Us telling you what not to do is telling you what to do. We're telling you to stop doing what you're doing–and, yet, you continue to do it. How can you come into a thread that says to stop pretending like people's differences don't matter and pretend that people's differences don't matter? And you want me to hold your hand and tell you what "to do" instead of what "not to do"? Seriously?

        • Profile photo of Beleth
          April 25, 2012 at 12:43 pm —

          The "lessons learned from other sources" are to treat everyone equally, of course, not "to reply with sarcasm and passive-aggressivness". The sarcasm I learned from Rebecca; the passive-aggressiveness is entirely your inference.
           
          If you want me to do something different han what I'm doing (and have been told to do by others), then yes of course I want you to tell me what to do! Seriously! Otherwise you're just letting me flounder. I can't read your mind.
           
           

      • Profile photo of Wilson
        April 25, 2012 at 10:54 am —

        Some people do get aggressive with their posts, rather than helpful. Sarcastic tones, "Really? Seriously?", using words like "absurd" to describe the arguments of someone who has honestly entered into discussion. Ridicule serves a purpose, but not against people who are genuinely trying to have a conversation (even if they're frustratingly dense, as we have all been on these comments).

        • Profile photo of Will
          April 25, 2012 at 11:07 am —

          Sorry, I don't agree. I have been pretty patient with people and explained a lot, and the responses that are returned are just repeating what I've already shot down. And multiple queer people have been repeating or backing up what I've said, yet they still ignore us and keep on at it. So, at that point, I'm done with trying to be patient and nice because I don't see it as honestly trying to be part of a conversation, but that person being defensive and not listening. When their response is "you're just telling me what not to do, you're not telling me what to do," are you kidding me? Those are the same damn thing in this situation. In my view, they're grasping for straws and making it about them instead of listening to what we're saying. I have no patience for it–it's derailing at that point.
           
          And nothing but love for you Wilson, I admire your will to niceness. I've just dealt with way too many *splainers around the internet to give more than a couple of chances to a person. <3

      • Profile photo of Luna
        April 25, 2012 at 11:42 am —

        @ Beleth you know what? I think that is a function of this being an Atheist website. That is the one common denominator I've found – no matter what the topic, I can say the most benign thing and I get slammed with insults. There are dozens of good LGBT blogs out there with smart people trying to educate. If you went to their website (or mine, for that matter) I would personally be happy to hear someone say "I'd like to learn more about this topic, please post more".
         
        If people here are offended by that, I don't know how they get out of bed in the morning.

      • Profile photo of Luna
        April 25, 2012 at 11:43 am —

        SORRY, REPLY BOX IN WRONG PLACE.
        @ Beleth you know what? I think that is a function of this being an Atheist website. That is the one common denominator I've found – no matter what the topic, I can say the most benign thing and I get slammed with insults. There are dozens of good LGBT blogs out there with smart people trying to educate. If you went to their website (or mine, for that matter) I would personally be happy to hear someone say "I'd like to learn more about this topic, please post more".

        If people here are offended by that, I don't know how they get out of bed in the morning

        • Profile photo of Beleth
          April 25, 2012 at 12:56 pm —

          Luna, I've dealt with skeptics and atheists (the two are not equivalent, but that's a whole 'nother topic) for quite some time, and I don't think that it's a feature common to them. Rather, I think it's a feature common to those who don't really have a plan.
           
          A plan involves action items – figuring out what needs to be done, and then assigning those tasks to people who agree to do them. If you see a problem, but you don't follow through with action items, you just end up kvetching uselessly.
           
          So I respectfully don't agree that it's an atheist issue. It's a lack-of-plan issue.
           

          • Profile photo of Luna
            April 25, 2012 at 1:01 pm

            You could be right, I don't know these folks so it's none of my business, but it certainly becomes an issue when insults are hurled around. I do think it's dangerous territory to quote a celebrity. Their words provoke all sorts of reactions yet in life should not matter. They are not leaders, scientists, teachers, they are artists. Not that that precludes them from saying something intelligent, but one single quote can be debated to death and we still won't be able to clarify what the actual person meant by it.

      • Profile photo of marilove
        April 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm —

        Um.  You are your own person.  It might be helpful to feel out a situation.  And it's not your tone I had issue with. It was what you were implying and directly saying.
         
        That said, it might be helpful NOT to try to speak from authority about being queer when you are not queer nor do you have any knowledge of the experiences and even cultures that exist within the comunity.  Try that first.  That's a big one. Don't you think?

  17. Profile photo of amm1
    April 24, 2012 at 11:05 pm —

    FWIW, I am not at all bothered by hearing people talk about being gay/lesbian/etc. If anything, I’m curious: what’s it like to be someone who isn’t like me in this or that respect?

    What I do get sick of is the way a lot of people act like people being gay/etc. is some big deal to get worked up and weirded out over (or worse.) I won’t claim to know what LWG (living while gay) is like, but I’ve had plenty of times in my life when I was The Weird Guy simply for being the way I am, and it got old real fast, even when people didn’t pick on me for it. I might say, hey, they’re just people, but in the sense that being gay or lesbian doesn’t mean you like being looked at as if you were a Martian any more than straight people would like it.

    Maybe I’m just showing my privilege, but I were wishing, I wouldn’t wish that words like “gay” or “lesbian” would go away, but rather that being gay or lesbian — or whatever — would come to be seen as just another way to be normal.

    • Profile photo of Improbable Joe
      April 24, 2012 at 11:29 pm —

      The irony is that maybe the more the words become accepted, the less of a big deal the meaning behind the words tends to be? And last I checked, racism didn't go away when "nigger" was replaced with "the N-word"… but I'll bet it has made it a ton easier for white people to pretend that racism isn't a huge problem since they don't have to hear racist slurs in polite company. 

      • Profile photo of nickbii
        April 24, 2012 at 11:57 pm —

        In this case it would actualy be the opposite. amm1 wants the concept of gay and lesbian to become so normal that everyone looks at being gay as just another thing white people do. That somebody is gay would be relevent in certain, limited, contexts, mostly dating; but otherwise would be nothing more then a factoid. It's the same transformation Southern Europeans underwent recently.
         
        OTOH all changing the n-word to the n-word did was change the vocab racists used. In some ways this was really useful, because it makes it a lot easier to tell the racists who are just assholes from the racists who really don't care what society thinks and are therefore a threat to do major crime.

        • Profile photo of amm1
          April 25, 2012 at 8:37 am —

          amm1 wants the concept of gay and lesbian to become so normal that everyone looks at being gay as just another thing white people do.

          Only if you equate "normal" with "white" .  Which I don't.  Do you?
           
           

          • Profile photo of marilove
            April 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm

            Yeaah I get what they were trying to say but that was problematic.

          • Profile photo of nickbii
            April 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm

            "White's" a pretty common shorthand in Academic Literature for American Majority Group. If you google "becoming white" the first choice is an article on how the Irish stopped being seen as a minority. Other results deal with things like how far along Asian-Americans are on the process, whether blacks will ever join them, etc.
             
            Since the term has racial origins it's obviouslty got some limitations, but it has the advantage that almost everyone understands what you mean when you say it, and that other terms that could mean the same thing are actually offensive. If I'd just said American marilove probably wouldn't have been quite so understanding, because I would have implied gay people are un-American. "Normal" doesn't really work, because even a lynch mob would probably have granted that most black residents of their town were normal.
             
            The only other term i can think of that would mean what i meant is "American Majority Group," and that has the disadvantages that a) I just made it up, and b) if I used it on a non-Feminist blog people would have no idea what i was talking about, and c) due to a) it would not be very clear even on a feminist blog.

  18. Profile photo of Otoki
    April 25, 2012 at 1:05 am —

    Good intentions.  Shitty word choice.  Result: reinforcement of the tired "I don't see color"-type fantasy.

  19. Profile photo of katesears
    April 25, 2012 at 5:41 am —

    Dunno what sort of privilege I've got, but my general inclination is to agree with Hutcherson. I don't think he put it very well, obviously, but the idea of not labelling sexuality appeals to me. It can often become prescriptive, and then when you break the 'prescription' there are often social and/or personal repercussions. I hate that.
    I love the idea of a 'post-queer' world where people are just people. I think that's something to work towards, and personally I can't see how it would affect my identity or how I see myself. But I guess that's just me.

    • Profile photo of Will
      April 25, 2012 at 10:58 am —

      It's fine if it appeals to you. My point is that that is not the case for everyone. And it is certainly not up to a straight person to try to push queer people into some post-queer world where we don't talk about our queerness. If that's something you want to do, more power to you–I don't know what's stopping you from doing that now.

  20. Profile photo of mraby
    April 25, 2012 at 11:37 am —

    OK, I feel compelled to post one more time even though I have absolutely got to get back to work. I am going to try one more time to give those commenters who have reacted so strongly against Will's very mild and (I would have thought!) uncontroversial post the benefit of the doubt that they actually want to learn something.
     
    Remember when Rebecca voiced her annoyance about being propositioned in an elevator–pointing out that men might not realize how problematic that is, because of their priviledge? Telling Rebecca she was wrong to feel that way is much like refusing to listen to Will about his annoyance with "erasure of identity"-type language. Rushing to the defence of the annonymous elevator dude (b/c surely he must have meant well!) is much like rushing to this celebrity's defence b/c of his (assumed, though in this case probably more likely) good intentions. I feel like I see peope in the comments here who would have understood Rebecca's position suddenly failing to seriously examine their priviledge when it comes to queer issues. I have no doubt that you all "mean well" and don't actually hate queer people, but you're being incredibly insensitive, whether you know it or not. Of course, the language hasn't been remotely as vile as it was against Rebecca, but the obstinate refusal to just listen to the LGBT community here is shocking to me. I see a lot of what amounts to "straight-splaining". I usually really enjoy the supportive and thoughtful discussions in the comments at skepchick. This time I am just really disappointed. 
     
    Acknowledging our priviledge, superficially, is not enough. The root of examining and confronting out own priviledge(s) is actually *listening* to others who do not have our priviledge. 
     
    And as I commented over at queereka on this same post (But with more typos! Sorry!): As skeptics, we all have to be vigilant and self-reflective *all the time*, not just on particular issues. (i.e. skeptical of bigfoot but not of climate denial?) We should be constantly seeking out our blindspots, not congratulating ourselves on how enlightened we are.  I also think it's pretty instructive how different the converstions about this post have been in the two locations. 
     

    • Profile photo of Luna
      April 25, 2012 at 11:49 am —

      Telling Rebecca she was wrong to feel that way is much like refusing to listen to Will about his annoyance with "erasure of identity"-type language.

       
      Sorry to comment when you're at work, but the problem with your argument (and Will's) is that NONE OF US SUGGESTED THAT. I can say it until I'm blue in the face and people will cover their ears and scream: but we WANT the LGBT community to speak out, and for all gays to be as vocal as they can be. Is it a crime to suggest that some gays may have a personality where they'd prefer to be left out of that? As long as it is out of some other desire (personality quirk) and not out of shame, why not respect that person's choice?
       
      Sheesh!!

      • Profile photo of marilove
        April 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm —

         
        This is truly funny since now one EVER EVER EVER EVER implied that an introverted gay MUST go to PRIDE and constantly talk about who they are.  It's also HILARIOUS since this is not at ALL what we are talking about!
         
        I am getting seriously frustrated with you.  You are NOT getting it!  No matter how introverted you are. YOU ARE STILL GAY and that is still going to be an important part of your identity.  Especially in this society.  And you always will be gay (well, maybe not always, as I believe sexuality can be fluid, but you'll still alwas have that experience).  That doesn't mean you need to carry around a gay pride flag!  That is not what we are talking about!!!!  Identity does not obvious or extroverted or whatever the fuck you seem to think it means.
         
        Stop speaking from authority about this subject. NOW.  You do not get it.  AT ALL.

        • Profile photo of Luna
          April 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm —

          "Speaking from authority" to you seems to mean speaking at all. If straight people are not allowed to have an opinion on this topic, just say so.

          • Profile photo of mraby
            April 25, 2012 at 2:23 pm

            I am straight and I don't find it that difficult to accept that I can't speak with authority about the queer experience. Happy to listen and be vocal in my support, though. 

          • Profile photo of marilove
            April 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm

            I didn't say not having an opinion.  I said speaking from authority.  You're coming across in that way.  Even if you "mean well".  I just don't think you're fully understanding the topic.  Which is fine.  It just means it might be time to step back a bit.

    • Profile photo of Otoki
      April 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm —

      Wells said.

  21. Profile photo of anon skeptic
    April 25, 2012 at 1:07 pm —

    As someone who criticizes other people's formulation you should be more careful not to accuse other people of being closeted homophobes or making the expression that the most serious problem that gays and lesbians face is that they are not longer called gay and lesbian. You know intent is irrelevant and shit. And yes you did.

    • Profile photo of marilove
      April 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm —

      It would be very helpful if you were more specific.  Instead of pointing fingers and not explaining yourself.  Come on, now; we're all adults here.

    • Profile photo of Will
      April 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm —

      I can only assume that you are saying this to me, since it's a first-level reply and has no names.
       
      All of those things you just mentioned? I haven't done a single one of them. I have not accused anyone of being a closeted homophobe. I have not even typed that word until this moment. I never said that the most serious problem that gay and lesbian people face is no longer being called gay or lesbian.
       
      If you're going to accuse me of such things, you'd better back them up with direct quotes and evidence. Otherwise, you're just making shit up. If you disagree with my analysis, that's fine, but you better explain why. It's so strange that people can accuse me of reading into his words when I'm actually taking them at face value, and then turn around and read into my words to try to prove a point against something I'm not even doing. Oddly, I've been accused both of not reading into his meaning and reading into his meaning too much all in the same thread.

      • Profile photo of anon skeptic
        April 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm —

        The irony is that I have not even said anything about what Josh Hutcherson said.

        • Profile photo of Will
          April 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm —

          There's no irony–you haven't said anything at all.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            April 25, 2012 at 9:38 pm

            This guy is full of it, Will.  Jebus.

      • Profile photo of anon skeptic
        April 25, 2012 at 3:15 pm —

        Okay maybe if I rephrase it but it won't probably work. If you hold other people's language to a certain standard you have to live with the fact that other people hold your language to the same standard.

        • Profile photo of Will
          April 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm —

          So point out where I've done any of the things you've accused me of. Point out where I've advocated for erasing people's identities. By all means, hold me to the same standards I am espousing. But do it by quoting exactly what I've done wrong and explaining exactly how it's wrong, just as I've done with the original post. Otherwise, you're still just making shit up.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          April 25, 2012 at 9:37 pm —

          Dude.  Will asked for specifics, and so have I but .. so far … you just keep avoiding our questions.  So don't be surprised if I think you're full of crap.

  22. Profile photo of marilove
    April 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm —

     
    I actually know introverted queer people.  Some of them even volunteer and/or participate in activism!  They tend not to do the protests, but they may answer phones or send out letters.  Or maybe their partner is the extroverted one (that’s usually the case).  They don't go to Pride, or if they do they volunteer to set up.  They may not go to the gay bars, but they are still aware of their identities.  Some gay people are more active in the community than others.
    Did you know that there are some gay people who disagree with legalizing gay marriage?  There are different versions of this.  Some are fine with "separate"; some don't want it at all.  But most of these people just don't want to "assimilate" with the straight community.  They find it pretty abhorrent.
    I don't fully agree with them, but I do understand where they are coming from.  And I do think that embracing your identity even in a small way is important for a lot of gay people.  We shouldn't have to hide or disappear into the straight world.  That's kind of bullshit.  Especially in this society.  We’ve been hiding since FUCKING FOREVER and we don’t want to hide anymore.  And thinking that need will change any time soon is just stupid, to be perfectly blunt.  It is not going to happen in our lifetime.  Not in our grandchildren's lifetimes.  Things are going well in America – and even better in other countries.  But they are still very, very, very bad in much of the world.
    Cultural identity is very important to humans.  It always has been.  I know a lot of Deaf people, as well – and I can assure you that being Deaf is VERY important for most of that culture (and controversial outside of it).  Cultural identity IS important to a large part of society.  Maybe it’s not to you, but … I call bullshit on that. I suspect you have an identity which does include your gender and your sexuality, whatever they might be at any given moment.  Even if you were asexual, that is still part of who you are.
    And I am honestly very amused by the people who swear up and down that they really, for REALS, only see people.  They don't see color or culture or orientation.  I just want to laugh and laugh because that's SUCH bullshit.  I'm about as liberal and open as they come, but I'm also not blind or stupid.  Humans are different in a lot of ways, while also being very similar.  And that's okay.
    Has anyone ever seen Modern Family?  That's the world I want to live in.  Where diversity is EMBRACED.

    • Profile photo of Luna
      April 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm —

      Well, I have to say I completely agree. Interestingly my sister interpreted for the deaf in medical clinics for a long time and she fostered a deaf teenager, who I was friends with (same age, my sis is 9 years older). It struck me as odd that deaf folks have their own culture, but they really do. Yet it struck me as offending them to say that out loud.
       
      And that is the problem. If straight people like us say something and use the words "gay culture", doesn't that sound like we're stereotyping? I actually do think there is a strong black culture, a gay culture, and normally I defend it. Some of my California friends talk about "a day when race won't matter". I ALWAYS say, what? Wouldn't that be a shame? Why not celebrate how we are different?
       
      But when I'm a white bread straight girl, it's a dangerous comment to make to a black person that they should act this way or that. Which is why  I'm excruciatingly careful to emphasize I respect individual differences.
       
      I had no idea there were gay folks who are against gay marriage. That seems too bad, but I suppose I could see why.

      • Profile photo of marilove
        April 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm —

        Thank you.  I appreciate this comment very much (not being snarky).

      • Profile photo of marilove
        April 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm —

        And no, it's not stereotyping as long as you're not doing a terrible impression or something. :P  I do think people prefer "community" rather than culture, though.  Especially since the culture can be very different depending on where you are, because cultures also tend to blend.  I mean, I imagine my experiences here in Central Phoenix are far, far different than Brooklyn or even Canada.  Or hell, even a latino LGBQT person might live a far different life than I do here in Phoenix, in a pretty different culture.  I'm white, come on.  I too have privilige.  I pass as straight.  Especially when I'm dating a dude.  My experiences are not the end all, be all of being queer.

        • Profile photo of Will
          April 25, 2012 at 2:56 pm —

          My experiences are not the end all, be all of being queer.

          And really this is kind of why I brought this up in the first place. The time, place, and audience that Josh Hutcherson was speaking to matters. He was speaking to an audience of rich, white people. The people that were there, that applauded for him, the people that attend expensive HRC lobbying dinners, etc., they pretend to speak for all queer people–and they simply do not and cannot. I am advocating for queer people–and people in general–to decide how they want to talk about themselves, and especially to not be told what parts of their identity are important to acknowledge by people who are members of the oppressive majority, regardless of ally status or intention. I totally get that Hutcherson (and Luna and Beleth and nickbii) are well intentioned and support queer rights and equality. That doesn't mean we can't call out privilege when it rears its head. I need people to point out my privilege to me, especially when I'm not seeing it, and I would be doing a disservice if I did not point it out when people who claim to be my ally are not seeing it.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            April 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm

             

            they pretend to speak for all queer people–and they simply do not and cannot.

            This is the biggest problem, isn't it?  And it's a common one.  Welcome to the world of feminism!  This always happens in any big movement.  I imagine even the civil rights era had this problem to some degree.  It's frustrating as hell.
             
            This is actually a big argument within the LGBQT community…  That the rich, white people have basically taken over.  Part of that argument is that gay marriage is the #1 focus, and that other problems like homelessness, domestic violence, etc., get pushed aside.  And even with this recent advance of anti-bullying stuff with a definite focus on LGBQT youth, there seems to be a lack of diversity.  Not everyone agrees that Dan Savage should be the “leader”, for example.
             
            Now I’m just off-topic, sorry! :D

          • Profile photo of marilove
            April 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm

            (disclaimer: I don't necessarily agree or disagree with these opinions; just pointing out that they exist.)

        • Profile photo of Dan
          April 26, 2012 at 11:57 am —

          I think that "community" and "culture" here have to refer to two separate but related things, especially depending on your goal in communication.
          We can define the queer "community" as the set of all people who identify as queer, as it is normally intended in common usage (I still have problems with this, considering "community" implies a more cohesive unit than this set of people really represents).
          A subset of this community that patronised certain establishments and institutions in the 20th century also developed a unique culture usually referred to as "gay culture." One can be a member of the queer community without identifying with gay culture for any number of reasons, including having a queer identity that was not traditionally embraced by this culture, coming from a country or community in which this subculture was different or absent, or simply not finding participation in the culture enjoyable.

          This differentiation between community and culture is likely only to increase as time goes on and the networks of establishments and institutions that fostered gay culture lose patronage due to the combination of mainstream acceptance of queer identities and the internet's ability to foster even smaller subcultures.

  23. Profile photo of sabell
    April 26, 2012 at 7:35 am —

     
    I really can't wrap my brain around where this idea of being 'post-insertwordhere' came from. It's just such a stupid, childish idea. We are all about words and how they are used to identify things. The meanings can shift and change and two different meanings can exist that have no relevance to each other at the same time given how big this damned world is (see: fag, cunt, gay. Different cultures; different meanings, all valid.).
    I don't want to live in a post racial world, or a post gay-lesbian-transgender world. I don't want to live in a world where these words stop being used, words usually stop being used because we view them as problematic, not because they get folded into the norm.
    I think it is highly naive to suggest that no longer 'having' to use words like 'gay' is a good thing. Why is the word 'gay', 'atheist', 'lesbian', 'woman', 'black', 'Hispanic' or anything else not white, straight, cisgendered, male bad? Male, white, cisgendered, and straight certainly aren't bad words; nor should we wipe them from our vocabulary. Anymore then we should any other words that describe a person.
    Maybe I'm looking at this too much from the view of a writer. Descriptions are vitally important, without them it is impossible to convey things, to paint an image or to express a detailed notion. The absolute last thing we should be doing is reducing the number of descriptive words. That helps no one and only hurts people.

    • Profile photo of Improbable Joe
      April 26, 2012 at 10:55 pm —

      It's pretty easy to understand: 
      It comes from people who have privilege, and are tired of having it thrown up in their face. And the folks who aren't obvious and overt bigots are sometimes worse about not wanting to hear about it… after all, they aren't racist so why should they have to hear about it all the time? The thing about privilege is that it is universal and unavoidable for the vast majority of us, and it is hard to seperate blame from responsibility from "nothing you can do about it" and the easiest way for most people to deal with it is to NOT deal with it. Usually we can and almost must avoid thinking about it, because who could survive if they could actually comprehend all of the end results of the actions they take?
      Some or most parts of the computers that we're all using involve some combination of virtual or actual slave labor, expoitation of natural resources, poisoning the environment, whatever. But it happens out of sight, so we can mostly put it out of mind. I'm sure that someone could trace back the amount of gasoline I've used in my life and figure out an exact number of people who died one way or another between the oil field and my last trip to the grocery store. But we all need to get from point A to point B and there's no free solar car waiting to pick me up in the morning, and I'm sure some third-world person suffers to make solar panels and tires and everything else, so I can't escape it. But it is also abstract.
      Non-straight people aren't abstract, and they have a voice in modern societies. You can't ignore them, so maybe you just want them to become "post-whatever" and stop talking about it so you can stop having to deal with it. 

  24. Profile photo of SamBarge
    April 26, 2012 at 11:28 am —

    Will, I haven't read the 141 comments but I'm guessing not everyone agreed with your original post (just by the number, not by the content of your op).
    When I heard Hutcherson's speech, I cringed at the "just people" part.  It seemed naive and probably well-intentioned (given that he has gone out of his way to fight homophobia and encourage other young people to start GSAs, I'm going to assume best intentions) but it was very poorly worded.  In his defense, I can only say that he's only 19 yrs old and will hopefully learn more as he grows.  Among other things, perhaps, he'll learn to write his acceptance speeches in advance. 
    I wanted to thank you for the post and for pointing out the problems with the speech.    

  25. Profile photo of otherjosh
    April 28, 2012 at 7:12 am —

    I usually just read the articles and not the comments, but I had to click through with this one to make sure this wasn't some kind of joke post.

    But it's for real, isn't it? This stupid, hateful, ignorant opinion piece is for real.

    I would say that it was bad and there was no way to make it worse, but reading the defense of the piece, how Will and his proxies attack even the most mild criticism with such savage vitriol, I see why we're losing this fight.

    These comments are terrible. They're embarrassing.

    When we turn our allies because they phrased a statement in such a way that allowed someone with with malicious intent to willfully misconstrue it, then we've lost. This is why we're losing the war of public opinion, because we turn on our own, Look at this shit. Will and marilove are just interested is scoring rhetorical points against their critics, We're better than this and we NEED to be better than this.

    Will, this article was bad. You had a forum, you had a chance to say what you wanted to say, and endless opportunities to clarify it and I still have no idea where you're coming from. I see that you don't like Luna, because she had the temerity to question you, but you haven't made your point. You didn't like what that actor said? Fine. Opinions will differ. Don't pretend that a genuine difference of opinion and an inartfully worded message of support are hate speech. Even considering the smaller audience, you have done more to hurt gay people with this article than Josh Hutcherson ever could.

    • Profile photo of Will
      April 28, 2012 at 1:03 pm —

      Where did I say anything about hate speech? Talk about putting words into my mouth…
       
      Your comment is nothing but insults and (ironically) complaints about tone. There's no substance whatsoever. What, exactly, about what I said is hateful or ignorant? If you don't agree with me, that's fine. But all you've done is talk about how you don't like my or marilove's tone and that I might offend some people who claim to be allies. Well, just because someone is an ally doesn't absolve them of criticism.
       
      And I don't dislike Luna at all, I don't even know her. Same goes for anyone else in this thread and Josh Hutcherson. I can separate talking about issues from people's characters. What I do know is what people say matters, and I will criticize it or praise it as I see fit. If you don't like it, that's certainly your prerogative. But instead of throwing insults, tone trolling, or putting words into my mouth, why don't you address my actual words, just as I've done in my original post.
       
      By the way, I'm not just talking about gay people–apparently unlike you, I recognize the diversity and difference within the queer community. Speaking out against a forced normalization is not hurting gay people because not all gay people want to be normalized. But you clearly lack any sense of nuance on this topic.

  26. Profile photo of modernmoron
    April 28, 2012 at 8:49 am —

    It’s always sad to live in a world where people feel the need to emphasize terms in casual conversation. “He’s seeing Tom in accepting…” “he’s *gay*? *Gasp*”, emphasized when you don’t respond with an appropriate gasp of surprise or shock or otherwise. It’s sad to think of your children growing up in a world where their sexual activities are treated so abnormally. How can they choose to express their identity when it’s already been applied? Being gay is more than just sex, but as soon as they have “that” kind of sex they are shuffled into that category. I hope to be alive when people can really take positive charge of their identities, as much or as little as they want.

  27. Profile photo of Bemmie
    April 29, 2012 at 10:45 pm —

    How callous, pointless and unnecassry is this thread? A nineteen year old stands up for what he believes and echoes what essentially what I would have said when I was a gay nineteen year old.
    Surely we're supposed to be fighting where it's necessary, not where it isn't. A young man made a statement which essentially boiled down to "we should all be equal" and somehow he is supposed to be judged for being unkind, insensitive or naive?
    I do not unbderstand what purpose this thread serves and I can see it as nothing more than finding fault when none was intended. He sounds like a nice chap who perhaps has a blinkered view of queer identity, but for fuck's sake, if you look for terms of antoginism then you can find them everywhere. A good place to start isn't with people who are honestly trying to do some good.

    • Profile photo of Will
      April 30, 2012 at 12:10 am —

      Two things:
       
      1) I never said he was unkind. Stop putting words in my mouth. The purpose this thread serves is to point out privilege, regardless of whether its from bigots or allies. Which leads to my second point…
       
      2) As I've said numerous times already,  intent is irrelevant. I've already acknowledged multiple times that he chose bad words and is obviously pro-queer rights. That doesn't mean he isn't still blinded by his own privilege.
       
      Essentially, most people here have agreed that his words were sloppily chosen and that my sentiments about his privilege are not incorrect, but that I am just being pedantic or that I should not have had the audacity to call him on his privilege because he means well. Well, people can mean well and recognize their privilege only if it's pointed out. If we let people off the hook because they are allies, that's not doing much in the long term–especially when it's coming from a particular segment of the community that more often than not completely neglects issues that are not relevant to middle-class, white, gay men and lesbians.
       
      Besides, you act as if I've personally offended Josh Hutcherson, like he's even read this or is aware of this website. I pointed this out to educate the readers of Skepchick about privilege and how post-identity discourse can be problematic. If people disagree with me, fine, but I would really appreciate if people would stop acting like I've gone and hurt the poor boy's delicate feelings.

  28. Profile photo of Bemmie
    May 1, 2012 at 6:33 pm —

    I will concede that he did use a poor choice of words, but teenagers are prone to see things in binary terms – it can be a confusing, emotional period and when I was 19, I most certainly thought the same way as he does now.

    At the heart of what is an awkwardly worded argument is a pretty idealistic notion though; one day sexuality shouldn’t matter because everyone would be treated equally.

    I’m not saying for a second that his sensibilities are so weak that we must cloister and protect him. I’m not even entirely sure if i know who he is, but it’s only fair to give a kid a break and not to go looking for offense when none was intended.

Add Comment Register



Leave a reply