Cross-Post: The Gay Agenda #1: Advice for friends – knowing what you are saying
Editor’s Note: This Cross-Post from Grounded Parents is written by Cerys Gruffyydd. If you want to read the full post or leave comments, click through the link at the bottom.
My child identifies as gay and genderqueer. I happen to think that xe* is a pretty awesome person who ought to be treated as a full human being, and that choices in apparel, hairstyle, and personal partners are irrelevant to that reality. Apparently this qualifies me as support staff for the Gay Agenda (woot!). I take all of my jobs seriously, and I love to be helpful. To that end I’d like to use the incredible power of my position as a mommy-blogger to advance the cause by offering this column clarifying details of The Agenda.
* Gender neutral pronouns are only one of the many plots to oppress downtrodden heterosexuals.
In this first installment, I’d like to help out friends who are sympathetic to the Gay Agenda, but who are not, themselves, active agents or support staff. Being an ally can actually be tricky for anyone. We can be supportive in the abstract, and even helpful when faced with extremes of bias, but day to day issues that don’t affect us, personally, tend to be invisible. I’d like to parse a few of the statements that I hear fairly often from well-meaning people and explain the hidden implications that make them problematic, as well as offer some alternatives.
If, at any point, you find yourself bristling and wanting to say, “but that’s not what I mean at all!” take a deep breath. I know that. But this is what comes across. This is a safe space to learn that. It’s just you and the pixels on the screen. They aren’t there to make anyone feel guilty or embarrassed. Only to help with translation.
Statement A: “I never think about whether someone is gay or not.”
Issues: Not thinking about whether someone conforms to the heterosexual standard is a luxury. If you are cisgender and straight you don’t have to worry on a constant basis that people will suddenly lash out at you. You generally just expect to be served at restaurants and cared for in hospitals. You don’t notice when romances in books and movies are heterosexual, but you will notice if they aren’t. Also, I can pretty much guarantee that when you look at someone who challenges gender norms you make a mental note of it. That’s ok. We also notice if someone is speaking a language that is new to us. Just don’t kid yourself that you never think about it because you are above it all. Inasmuch as you don’t think about it, it’s because you don’t have to.
Related Statement(s): “We assumed s/he was gay, but nobody cared.”
How This Comes Across: “I’m perfectly comfortable in my world and generally oblivious that other people aren’t. Also, if you are giving out cookies, I’d like one.”
Alternatives: Listening is always a good option. Often statements of this nature come out when someone is describing an incident where they were made to feel uncomfortable because of their gender or sexuality. If that’s the case, then it’s not about you or what you do, it’s about their experience. Use it as a chance to learn what they notice, and you do not. If it’s appropriate (and genuine), offer acknowledgement. It can be simple, like “wow, that’s really unfair! I’m sorry you had to deal with that.”
Click here to go to Grounded Parents to read the rest of the post and leave a comment!