This year Facebook rolled out the little flag-icon as an option to comment on others posts, pictures and the like. I was so happy to see this during traditional pride month, June as a way of acknowledging a month of reflection on the LGBTQ civil rights movement.
What on earth could be controversial about that?
Well. Quite a bit it would seem. For those who don’t have guidelines on how it’s used or what it means in the Facebook context it seems it has the possibility to be mean all sorts of things. Let’s run through some.
- It does not mean I think you’re cute and want to “F” you.
- It doesn’t mean I think what is portrayed in this commentary or photo is particularly garish, fabulous or faggish.
- It’s not meant in any way to intentionally inflict distress on you or make your friends laugh at you
- I’m not questioning your ‘masculinity’ or whatever that means as masculinity is a continuum of broad types. I myself am masculine. Just in a feminine way.
- It does mean I am disrespecting your different views or that you choose not to celebrate or recognize the civil rights movement of the LGBTQ Community.
- Lastly, it does not mean I think you’re gay.
These are important points to note. But, what this experience brought up for me was that “Wow”. Really?
We have come such a long way for those of us as part of this movement for a long time. It also demonstrates that we have such a long way to go. The idea that your friends would judge you for this little flag and that make a presumption that you must be gay because it shows up on your timeline says a lot about the folks you may be choosing to surround yourself with.
If they make fun of you and call you names – I’ll admit – that must be terrible. I guess I would have no idea what that’s like.
The idea that they would question your masculinity or demean you in any way because your timeline looks different than theirs, and your timeline doesn’t conform to what they think a timeline should look like or how you should act. That too must be heartbreaking and you must feel a little less than. I wouldn’t know.
Here’s a suggestion. Before you accuse people of what you interpret or believe their intentions to be, why don’t you ask them? “What did you mean when you placed the little rainbow flag on my post?” Give a person an opportunity to say that for some people who celebrate pride is synonymous for happy. And, seeing this post or picture made me happy. Or that you look happy. Or, I wanted to spread happiness.
Then, you’re free to say “how could you?!”
In short, because I am sure I could write substantially more on this – it doesn’t mean that I think you’re gay. And, heaven forbid that folks have a presumption about this terrible conclusion about you. Because – well – that would be just about the worst.
My, how much farther we need to go to continue educating folks within and without the community about symbols, what they mean, the power of self identification and not putting labels on each other. I respect that you’re straight. I respect that you don’t view the rainbow flag the same way I do. I always want to be respectful as my intention is not to inflict harm on another person. I’ve done too much inadvertently in this lifetime. My plan is to not to intentionally do more as I likely have exceeded my lifetime allowance.
Thus, I’ll apologize. Sincerely. I would never want to cause you distress. I’ll remove the flag. And, to make extra sure that I don’t inadvertently harm you again, I’ll likely remove you as a friend on Facebook. It’s not meant as retaliatory measure. I’m not trying to smite you for being different from me. I’m not hurt that you brought it up if it was bothering you. But with the limited amount of time that I (and all of us really) have on earth, I’m choosing to surround myself with folks with people who don’t get pushed out of shape, or misinterpret so quickly what was intended to be an act of kindness in acknowledging your happy post or picture.
So if you see me on the street, don’t presume, make quick judgements, pass over broad interpretations to my actions. Just ask, and I’ll be happy to tell you – without harshness, without vile and in the kindest way I know how – – I am unfriending you because I wouldn’t want my gay timeline or inadvertent use of a symbol to offend you. Really.
Or you can just conclude it’s because I thought you were gay. And, you’re not. That may bring you comfort somehow.