Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

"The #1 Thing Which Most People Are Prejudiced Against Is Weakness and Victimization Itself" (Originally Posted to the Queerchoice Mailing List on This Date)

Unfortunately I think that in our society, the number one thing which most people are prejudiced against is weakness and victimization itself. If you say you had a bad childhood, people don't usually react to that by trying to make sure you have a happy adulthood. They usually just start jumping to conclusions about what a raving lunatic and totally incompetent messed-up human being they think you must have become as a result of your victimization. So I think that the number one most effective way for any victimized group to win respect is simply to refuse to be seen as weak, to refuse to be victimized—to fight back and stand up for our rights. It's when we show that we do have power and we have won some rights and we're not just miserable all the time—that's when I think we really win some respect. Unfair though I admit that it is.

Shortly after Matthew Shepard was murdered I was reading a newspaper article about all the previous times he had been beaten up and raped for being queer. I still lived with my parents at that time, and I commented to my mother (who I'm not out to) that it seemed strange for one person to be the victim of so many separate incidents of violence—I suspect that his being 5'2" had a lot to do with making him into a convenient target. Anyway, my mother's response was that it was not surprising at all—she said that all gay people get severely beaten up and have to be hospitalized every year or so as a result of constant gay-bashing. And she wasn't expressing support for that violence—she has learned in recent years to not express her homophobia as directly as she used to—but I think that statement about all gay people being beaten up on a yearly basis is the epitome of what's wrong with heterosexuals' idea of how queers live. If they think that all queers ever do is get beaten up, it's no wonder that heterosexuals go to such extreme lengths (including insulting or beating up queers) to deny the same-sex love potential that exists in them just like in everyone else. The fact is that no matter how much pain has been involved in my process of becoming queer (and I think there has been a fair amount, although thankfully no violence yet), there have been so many wonderful and fun things about being queer that I couldn't regret it for an instant—and if I could just express that to heterosexuals, if I could just get them to understand the joys of being queer, I think that would make it so much easier to get them to explore their own potential for same-sex love. And although acknowledging one's queerness doesn't automatically make anyone less homophobic, I do think there's a certain level of homophobia that you just can't get rid of if you continue to cling to that safe heterosexual identity. There's only so much you can learn about any community if you just observe it from the outside and keep your hands clean . . . you have to plunge your hands into all the multicolored goo and spread it all over you and lick it off your fingers to really get comfortable with it and become one with it. And sure, there are always people who are so dead-set on the idea that it must be yucky that even when they swallow it they still just think it's yucky dirty old mud . . . but you're never going to recognize it as the gourmet ice cream it is just by looking at it from a safe distance and not taking it inside of yourself and making it part of you.

(Ahem . . that's enough extended metaphors for now, I think!)

. . .

Actually, I kinda like those people who show up in totally unexpected places wearing queer T-shirts, rainbow socks, three triangle earrings and seventeen pride necklaces around their necks. ;-) I totally understand that this type of display isn't for everyone or for all stages of most people's queer lives, but I also think that for some people and at some times of life, it can be very important and useful to do things like that . . . just to rid themselves, maybe, of the lingering fear that the only reason they don't get beaten up at least once a year like my mother says happens to all queers, is that people don't recognize them as queer. I'm not sure whether the seventeen pride neclaces make a good or a bad impression on heterosexuals . . . I doubt it makes much difference at all really . . . but as I've said before on this list, I don't think we ought to worry at all about "what heterosexuals think of us" if worrying about that is going to get in the way of making ourselves comfortable and happy with our queerness.

I think that being happy healthy queers has to be the absolute number one priority, with no concessions whatsoever made to any type of concern for what heterosexuals think of us. It's fine to try to change heterosexuals' opinions, but it is not fine to let those kinds of worries stop you from living your life however the fuck you want. I think it's ultimately the sight of us doing whatever the fuck we want that is most likely to change heterosexuals' opinions. So as far as I'm concerned, people who get any kind of joy out of wearing seventeen pride necklaces should by all means GET OUT THERE AND WEAR THEM!!!

And for anyone who doesn't enjoy doing that, by all means DON'T DO IT!!! Such a simple philosophy . . . you wouldn't think we'd have such trouble figuring it out. ;-)
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