My friend, Rhea (and her fiancé, Cameron) wrote some great stuff. About straight people back-patting & Macklemore. You should read it.
The problem with privilege and equality is that all nice kind good privileged people say they want equality. Then when the less privileged people say “great! So, give me some of yours so we’ll be equal” suddenly the people at the top of the seesaw go “WHOAH WHOAH WHOAH - you can’t have MY stuff. I just hope you magically get some somewhere.”
It’s hard to be 100% angry when someone has gained NATIONAL (if not international) fame for standing up for a facet of the LGBTQ movement, regarding marriage. I appreciate the allegiance of Macklemore (and Ryan Lewis) but at the same time, this song is a great metaphor for the LGBTQ struggle within our culture. If it were a gay man or lesbian or trans person up there singing (which this hypothetical even happening is still far off) about themselves and what they go through, it’d be deemed “too preachy”.
Take this example. I was recently flying from Los Angeles to the Midwest and had to take a shit ton of flights due to cancellations. I was tired and sick, and really bored. I’d been traveling for hours. I got onto my second to last flight, which was a tiny plane with two seat rows from Dallas to Atlanta. Now, when I travel I like to wear a hat. A baseball hat, to be specific. I usually get many “sirs” in the ladies’ bathroom, as well as in the TSA lines. First off, I get it; it doesn’t always bother me as long as the person saying “sir” says something to the effect of “oh, my bad”, upon realizing their error. “Totally cool”, is typically my response. If they resond in a shitty way, well, that’s going to be another Tumblr post. Second, LADIES WEAR ALL KINDS OF HATS, GET HIP TO IT. But i digress, back to my point:
I got on this plane next to a white, early 40s woman who happened to live in suburban Los Angeles (somewhere around Brea). She worked in pharmaceuticals in some way or another, so she was doing alright financially. At this point in my day, I had needed some human interaction beyond “sir” and she seemed like she was up for talking in her body language. We started chatting about flying and how crappy cancellations are and just normal stuff like that. Then on to jobs and families. Then, at about 35 minutes in, we got to he be one. We started talking about…
She started out by asking me when I knew. “Forever” I always say. Now, people rarely preface this with, “Is it ok if I ask…” Might I suggest, straight people, prefacing with “can I ask you…” We are not lab rats and we are not exotic. We are people who happen to live in your world. So, as soon as you knew you were straight, that’s when I knew I was gay. I just didn’t have the language for it. Not sex language mind you. But Barbie dolls and baby dolls and He-Man and She-ra language. Everything is “sexed” and “gendered” right away. So you scared hetero people out there that don’t want kids knowing about gay sex? You should take away your sexist baby dolls for your daughters and don’t let your boys watch cartoons with buxom women in them. Then came the big question:
WHAT DO I SAY TO MY KIDS?
Well, ok. I understand now, at 31 that I am in a position of teaching. It sucks, because I have to live my life partially teaching straight people how to be nice to me but hey we all have our cross to bear, min just happens to be wearing a Dodgers ball cap and a men’s flannel from Urban Outfitters. So here’s what I tell this woman. “Look, don’t tell them that if they ‘end up being’ gay you’ll love them just as much. Just love them. Tell them about gay people you know. Tell them that Ellen is really funny. Show them Neal Patrick Harris. Just don’t make them think that being gay or lesbian or trans is any less than, by saying that it’s POSSIBLE your love would be less if they were LGBTQ; because if they are gay, they might think that after you tell them there could be a difference, now they are different. Why put that in their heads? So basically, just treat them the same, don’t say mean shit about gay people and love them when they come out. Period.
So up to this point, the conversation had been very nice. It stayed nice but what the woman said next was incredibly hurtful and brings me back to my original point of wishing that LGBT folk were “allowed” or “able” to speak for themselves.
"I have a cousin who’s gay. I’m totally fine with it. I just don’t like when ‘they’ are so aggressive about it. It’s like (shudder) just stop, I GET IT. You don’t have to be so aggressive."
The above quote is paraphrased because I kinda blacked out. This, from a human woman who had just been talking to me, a human lesbian woman, that spent the previous 15-20 minutes KINDLY HELPING HER learn how to “deal” with a possible gay kid. I’m glad I stayed within her boundaries of acceptable gay behavior. I wouldn’t want to make her feel uncomfortable, by like, say, asking her questions about her sexuality while at the same time being TOO GAY.
This is why we need more LGBTQ people talking about their lives and coming out (I’m lookin’ at you Queen, Your Highness) as a point of pride and not hiding because, “privacy”. We still live in a time where being out can be seen as aggressive. What’s so aggressive about us? That we talk about ourselves? Seems to me you heteros do a whole lot of talking about yourselves. And gay people. And lesbians. And the trans community.
And we listen.
So this is why last night I was more affected by the Bing commercial celebrating strong women than I was the equal marriage stunt that coincided with Macklemore’s equality song - because that commercial showcased women who did amazing things, using their voices. How about it, world at large, how about you let us grab the mic for a sec.
We have a few things to teach you.
“Same Love” is catchy as hell, beautiful even. And I have a problem with it. I just don’t dig that THE song chosen this year to celebrate the national movement toward equality begins with a description of what it feels like to be straight and called gay. The song puts being called gay in as part…