So recently another celebrity has said some variation of “I like the gays. I have gay friends. I just don’t “agree” with the gays”.
Reading the commentary on a recent website, I sometimes find it amusing that well-intentioned folks don’t see the problem with that statement.
Much like when you follow any statement that comes after the word “but” negates the first half of the sentence, you essentially diminish the first part of the statement. That is to say, liking gays, and having gay friends does not make you a human rights activist. At most it makes you tolerant. Isn’t that nice? Do they have an award for that? “And, now the recipient who has tolerated more people with all her heart.. the envelope please.”
No. They don’t have an award for that. Nor should they.
What frustrates many of the readers who chose to comment on the story that the speaker is African American. Some had even cried “discrimination” when that point is brought to bear. However, if you took the paraphrase of that statement and assigned the word “black” in place of “gay” you’d think wow — racist. And, what exactly would it mean to say “I don’t agree with the blacks”? Agree with what? And, here’s where the slap in the face comes after the homophobic statement. (Sort of like a cherry on a shit-sundae). I don’t agree with the “lifestyle”.
So here we are again. Likely a full-decade following the last time I wrote on this subject. Can someone explain to me exactly what is the “Lifestyle” that these folks keep referring to? And, what constitutes a “Lifestyle”.
If I told you I hung out in bars where Mexican people were, would that mean I was living the “Mexican Lifestyle”. If I slept with people who were Jewish, would that mean I was living a “Jewish Lifestyle”. Or, if I was born with one limb missing, would that constitute a “Differently-abled lifestyle”. And, if it did, did I choose that?
Much of these controversies come from misunderstanding. An uneducated approach of how to address a community, and then drawing back and saying “what? what? what I said wasn’t offensive”. The fact that you can’t even ‘see’ that it could be construed as offensive is what incenses others. And, yes if you come from a historically oppressed community, like the African American community – sometimes more is expected of you. No, we are not alike in all respects. But, what we do each face within our own celebrated cultures is an understanding of what it is to be the butt of others jokes, to be marginalized at institutional level, to be ignored when we cry out for human decency. So, to deny this, when one would expect you’d be intimately familiar with it smarts harder than if another smacked you that you’d expect a smack from.
So, I’m left to wonder what “Lifestyle” is. I look forward to the explanation.