Consider, for a moment, the following story:
“But how did you know?”: Oh that age old question asked just one more time, and never for the last.
They sighed. A sigh so softly expressed so many times. A sigh so soft and understated that only a person accustomed to such moments would understand it. Barely visible to the casual observer, those in the know would recognise their hearts sinking as they prepared to answer the inevitable and recurring question. At least they weren’t being asked about the configuration of their genitals or their sexual preferences though. They’d been spared that indignity on this occasion. It was at least a tolerable question, and once more they found their selves giving out the very personal details of their personal childhoods.
“I always got on better with boys,” he said, “and then when puberty hit it was a nightmare. I just knew I had to do something, but I didn’t know what”.
“Oh, it was a bit like that for me to,” she interjected, “except I got on better with the girls. I used to like playing with dolls but my parents would take them from me when they caught me. My mum caught me using her makeup once. I guess I was just born this way.”
Why? Why, oh why, oh why must we go through this standard narrative again, and again and again? Yes, I’m as guilty as anyone of this, but surely this is the sort of thing we should be telling our nearest and dearest -should there be a cause or desire for them to know- and not random strangers or acquaintances? If you actually like answering these questions and the ‘standard narrative’ applies to you, then sure, why not… but for the rest of us: Why?
Really speaking, this pretty much applies to LGB people as much as it does to trans people. We collectively feel the need to justify our existence by offering narratives, terminology and ideas that can be readily digested by the rest of society. We explain our histories and our existences according to the frameworks provided for us, which are inevitably designed to fit in with the pre-ordained rules of a hetero-normative society. We often seem to instinctively try to avoid standing out, and instead try to shape ourselves to fit the mold at the expense of our own unique individualities. Not even cissexual people their selves are immune to this effect, from the schoolyard bullies, to the neighborhood yobs and interest groups hitting out at and questioning anything that poses the smallest challenge to the normative status quo, marking it as somehow different and inferior by its mere existence. For LGBT people though, there’s a difference – we tend to accept it, consciously or not, as being part and parcel of being LGBT, and it runs right the way through society.
While anti-abortionists claim that a woman’s right to do as she likes with her body is superseded by the rights of the unborn child in a similarly vitriolic battle over what choice women should have over their bodies, the argument against LGBT people is predicated differently. It is based on the idea that we, in ourselves, are disgusting and morally wrong simply for our very existences… and I ask – why? Why must we be special cases having to explain our origins? Why should we be subject to attempts to cure us? Why should we be considered as worth anything less than anybody else because of who we are in spite of the fact that we do nothing wrong, and nothing to harm anybody else? Ironically, there is even a section of the feminist community that believes in a person’s choice over their own body, and yet would deny trans people that choice – one feminist famously wanted to “mandate trans people out of existence”. The anti-choice argument at least contains some kernel of reason (whether you agree with it or not), whereas the argument against LGBT equality does not. Such a lack of reason was seen recently in the UK, where a popular soap opera showed two men cuddling in bed and provoked outrage from some quarters, while hetero-centric casual sex, violence, threats and even rape have been deemed unworthy of complaint by the same people.
This argument that we are some kind of scourge on society, and that we’re somehow exotic or explicit material that should be kept out of the eyes of children spurs us on to justify ourselves with a whole host of purported medical, evolutionary, sociological, genetic, or psychological reasons. In doing so, we are the ones that create our own oppression. Instead of standing up to such questions, and instead of requesting the civil courtesy of the respect afforded to everyone else, we give in. In giving in and answering their questions with narratives that fit their views, we perpetuate a cycle where they feel they have the right to ask. They feel they have a right to know. A right to pry. A right that wouldn’t exist anywhere else, and thus lends itself to a sense of the normal vs the abnormal, which of course transforms itself into issues of right or wrong, above and below, inferiority and superiority. We hand them power. We give them privilege over us, and all by trying to fit into their world, rather than staking our place and our claim on our already being a part of their world, and one that’s worthy of equality and respect. I’m not going to seriously use terms like kyriarchy or patriarchy to describe top down systems of oppression. Power is seen to work like that, but only because that is the way we have organised it. If every fighter put down their weapon, we’d see an end to war – it’s unlikely to happen, but it’s true. Similarly, can you imagine a situation where every LGBT person responded with “That’s a personal question”, or “My body, my choice. I’m not hurting anybody else, so what’s the problem?” Admittedly, for some trans people it’s a choice between surgery or death – but that’s still a real choice, if an obvious decision to make (clue – death isn’t the obvious and logical solution to such a problem.)
Then, of course, there’s the other problem with the standard narratives for trans people especially – they hurt other trans people. In some ways, the formation of the narrative has been clinician led… but it’s our internalisation of the narrative that’s perpetuated it. As more and more people repeat their stories, it becomes the accepted basis on which medical services are allowed. Nobody knows what causes transsexualism any more than what results in the existence of neutrois or other gender variant people that don’t fit the narrative… but it is the narrative that grants access to medical treatment. If you don’t fit it, you don’t get it. If you’re not transsexual, then you must surely have some sort of body dysmorphia that needs talking therapy or psychiatric drugs – it’s not right, and it’s not fair. Change isn’t going to happen overnight, but it’s likewise going to be even longer coming for as long as the ‘One True Narrative’ prevails. Is it right to leave other people out in the cold like this?
For bisexual people – if same sex attraction is not a choice, and “homosexuality is OK as long as you don’t act on it” is not a reasonable view, where exactly does that leave bisexual people? While “Being gay is not a choice” is great for defending gay and lesbian people, it leaves bisexual people open to the accusation that they really do have a choice, and should choose only to sleep with members of the opposite sex.
We need to stop clinging to the standard narrative – and many of us are unknowingly guilty of that, as we tend as a species to frame things in the language we are surrounded with. We need to stop giving away our power and subverting ourselves. We need to stop internalizing the narratives, and instead to proudly state the truth of our own individual existences. To live that truth. To love that truth, and to be that truth. We need to stop policing others for questioning the standard narrative and expressing opinions which stand against it. We need to stop crying “transphobia”, “homophobia”, “hetero-centricism” and “cissexism” at the slightest opportunity, stop tarring and we need to start living by example. Sure – there is transphobia, homophobia, hetero-centricism and cissexism in the world and it’s wrong, but overuse of the terms devalues them, and just makes us look irrationally angry and combative… all the while, of course, focussing our attention on why certain people think we are wrong rather than on why we are just as worthy and awesome as anybody else. It’s perhaps telling that I myself am wondering if I’m going to lose friends and contacts over this article – I don’t profess it to be gospel truth, but I do feel it raises a few interesting points and questions.
I’m going to tell you that truth now. It’s actually a very simple one, as most truths are – we are people of diverse backgrounds and experiences just as all human beings are, but in one thing you are just the same as anybody else…
… You are beautiful, and your existence is no less valid or rightful than anybody elses. You have a right to be yourself. You don’t need a cure. You don’t need a reason. You don’t need to explain yourself to all and sundry. You don’t need to justify your basic existence. Why you are the way you are doesn’t matter. What matters, is that you are who you are, and you exist – and you are beautiful for it. At the end of the day, we’re all just people, and we should be people. Live.
Across the US, there is a problem with education, its underfunded, lacking in innovation, and failing the next generation of young americans. They can only keep hold of the most dedicated teachers, because rather than treating them as prized assets worth more than any Politican or Manager, they have to survive on a salary that is fundamentally a joke. The Republican party has declared yet another war on teachers and other public servants going after their pay and pensions, while giving tax breaks to corporations and millionaires.
Part of the strategy is cutting funding, transitioning schools from public ownership, to the hands of corporations. This is an effort of moving us towards the McDonalds and Mattel sponsored schools of Jennifer Government. But also theres an equally insidious and evil agenda, which is that of the innocently named “School Choice”.
The stated aim of “School Choice”, is to give children of disadvantaged families, the right to go to private schools, funded by giving subsidies towards private school fees. Thats not the real aim, the aim is to allow fundamentalist christian parents to remove their children from the mind opening and tolerance inducing public school system, and put them in conservative christian schools.
Public schools throughout the USA are helping spread the message of tolerance. California’s SB48 will bring the contributions of LGBTQIA people in history into social studies the same way in the past, they brought in Hispanic and African Americans in, as part of an effort to fight prejudice. More and more public schools have Gay Straight Alliances, even in conservative christians states.
Parents are afraid, and they should be, you want your child to be a good little fundamentalist, when you can control all the information they have access to, it is easier to brainwash them. If you raise them on a diet of bible and other books filled with conservative lies, then its likely they’ll think the world was created in 6 days, that LGBTQIA people are evil, and anyone who disagrees has a little demon on their shoulder.
This all breaks down, when children find out that evolution makes a lot of sense, that the world is much bigger than the narrow world their parents forced down their throats. Once they get into the public school system, their brains start to get enriched and their hearts and minds open.
School choice vouchers are being used by these fundamentalist parents to send their children to schools that teach the same lies they get at home. Hatemongering leaders in the christian right are terrified because they know that once someone has opened their mind to reality its very difficult to close the mind up with hatred and intolerance.
Bullying in schools is a real hot-button issue, no longer is being bulled for being true to who you are, acceptable. School districts who try to be bigoted, face legal action from students no longer wanting to sit at the back of the bus. Christian students who try to bully, cajole and in other ways spread the hate of their parents, are becoming as unwelcome as the children of white supremacists a generation ago.
The point here, is that school choice is not about helping children, its about helping parents being able to brainwash their children with religious dogma, using federal, state and local tax dollars to fund it. It is child abuse, and religious indoctrination in clear violation of both ethical government and the separation of church and state.
Public schools in the USA, are not perfect but they are better than the schools that will indoctrinate them with Catechism, Creationism, and Lies.
If ever there were a term to be reclaimed, this is it: the gay agenda. When you blog on a LGBT website, you end up trawling through the websites of all the usual news sites, anti-gay campaigns and hate groups – NOM, right wing Christian news, republican/social conservative blogs and news, gay news sites, etc… …and so it goes on. One thing you simply cannot avoid is the term “gay agenda” used as a stick to beat us with. There’s never a definition to what this agenda is exactly, but the undertones are always sinister; and you know what? I’m sick of it. So, let’s say this now…
“Yes, I support the Gay Agenda, and I support it wholeheartedly without shame or reservation.”
… no? Are you having trouble saying that? Is it just me that supports the gay agenda? OK, then let’s take a look at what it is we’re so often accused of supporting.
The term ‘Gay Agenda’ is a bit of an invention. It supposedly refers to an organised, concerted (or in the minds of those that accuse us of it, conceited) political and social effort to earn ourselves special rights and privileges, over and above those held by the rest of society. Frankly, we simply don’t have the level of power and privilege as a group and that in itself makes the concept more than a little surreal. It’s surreal because the concept is couched in the language of good and evil. The idea comes from the drawing of battle lines. It comes from a group of people so utterly convinced that homosexuality is abhorrent or sinful, unnatural or immoral that any effort towards anything that leads to acceptance of the fact that there are gay people in society and their mere existence should not be grounds for criticism, harassment, or worse, must therefor be an effort with sinister, corrupt, and morally repugnant intentions. Of course, understanding the origins of this ludicrous idea fails to address that ‘special treatment’ accusation… so let’s address that further – while we have neither the power nor the privilege for such a lofty goal, and even if such a goal were somewhere within our wildest dreams, isn’t it normal for interest groups, marginalised or otherwise, to seek an advantage in their own lives? It might not be morally sound, but it happens everywhere. Christians do it, politicians and political parties do it, advocates for various causes do it, corporations, capitalists, sole traders, small businesses and banks do it. It may not be right, but in our society – a society so often espoused as righteous in these traits by the self same people who complain of the gay agenda – it’s normal.
So, are you ready to say it yet? – “Yes, I support the Gay Agenda, and I support it wholeheartedly without shame or reservation.”… No?
Well, perhaps it’s because the Gay Agenda is an invented term, used to promote a ludicrous idea of good and evil, which is in turn used to beat us over the heads with, and further an anti-gay agenda. Even so, we do have an agenda. An agenda that covers lesbian, gay, bisexual. trans, intersex, asexual, pansexual, queer, and questioning people; and you know, much of this applies to straight women too. It could, for simplicity and for a short and snappy name, be referred to as a gay agenda, even though it covers all of these people. Yes, people. Perhaps if it’s spelled out clearly, you too can say “Yes, I support the Gay Agenda, and I support it wholeheartedly without shame or reservation”. Perhaps if it’s spelled out clearly, you can provide a simple answer or a link next time you see or hear someone accusing us of supporting our sinister little agenda for the destruction of community, society and all goodness in the world – so here’s that agenda, clearly on display for all to see.
1) We are human beings first and foremost just like everybody else, and as a body of people, we would generally like to be considered as normal people, just like everybody else. There are exceptions to the rule (those that like to stand out and be different), but that’s the case for any group of people in society, and no reason to treat us as being in some way different in the context of our day to day lives. We need to eat, sleep, pay our bills, be with our loved ones (especially in moments of need!) and generally live out our lives just as everybody else does.
2) We want to live in peace, seek happiness, and make something of our lives, just as anybody else does.
3) Many of us would like to have our long term, committed, stable relationships recognised in law. Of course, in that regard, Separate but equal is not equal, as demonstrated by the fact that anybody could desire to separate us from the rest of society in the first place… and so yes, many of us would like to get married. Some of us have children. Some of us will never have children – just like infertile or otherwise childless heterosexual couples – we don’t see anybody arguing against those marriages, so why us?
4) Some of us are not gay, but instead we speak for our children who so often are needlesly abused in school. Why? Why is this allowed to continue? Nobody wants homosexuality ‘promoted’ in school, but it’s not promotion to teach that we’re people just the same as anybody else, and should be accorded the same respect and fair and just treatment as anybody else. It’s rather sad that there are a bunch of hateful and bigoted adults teaching children to behave in these ways, resulting in a need for this education in basic human respect and decency. It’s simply called equality.
5) We’d like an end to the lies, mis-truths, deceptions, unsupported and ill founded assumptions, and hysterical propaganda distributed about us. We’d very much appreciate it if people stopped making us the target and the object of their hatred and allowed us to get on with our lives in peace.
6) While we’re on the subject of getting on with our lives in peace, it would be nice if we didn’t have to live in fear that we’ll be discriminated against or our sexual orientation regardless of the fact that it almost never has any serious (if any!) affect on anybody else, and is almost always irrelevant to the subject of that discrimination. It’d also be very nice if we could be sure that our politicians, community leaders, and rich & powerful view our execution -wherever it is- on grounds of our sexual orientation as an abhorrent idea, and not have to live with the sure knowledge that there are some that would support it. It would be nice if, when we get attacked, we could be sure that it’ll be taken seriously… that we could be sure that it won’t get brushed under the carpet… that we can be sure that we won’t be told it’s our own fault simply for the fact of our existence.
7) All this tends to add up to a degree of disempowerement, and we’d like our power back please. We’d like the same power over our own lives and destinies that everybody else has. No more, and no less.
8) Whether we’re gay, trans, or whatever, we’d like not to be deliberately (and often maliciously) mis-gendered. It’s a form of abuse.
9) Many of us make absolutely fantastic parents. Homosexuality is not passed on like a contagion or through teaching, and there’s a great many kids out there who’d be better off with parents than without. In fact, there are studies that show that we tend to make excellent parents that bring up well rounded children, and none to the contrary. The ONLY accusation with any foundation from those that would abuse and denigrate us is that our children suffer an increased risk of abuse and denigration… largely as a result of the policies, attitudes and actions of those that would abuse and denigrate us. Not all of us want children – that’s pretty much the same as the rest of the world. Some of us do want children, and we’d like the same rights to medical technology, adoption, the legal recognition of our families and various federal benefits (including immigration where relevant, with or without children) that everybody else has.
10) Will you please stop trying to cure us? Yes, there’s ‘ex-gay therapy’ or ‘reparative therapy’ for those of us who are having trouble dealing with who we are and the shame, guilt, hate and discrimination that some in society are determined to impose upon us; that is, if we’re willing to risk the psychological damage and increased risk of suicide that comes from suppressing who we are. It should be available for those who openly seek it out – but it’s not a solution, and in fact only a tiny minority are healthy and happy people after it. It doesn’t need promoting, because we don’t need curing. We’re simply not ill, thank you very much, apart from those of us who have developed depression, anxiety and fatigue as a direct result of the acts of abuse, denigration and dehumanisation that have, and continue to be, committed against us.
As individuals, not all of us have experienced all of the above issues – some of us are lucker than others, whether that’s by life circumstances or simply the place of our birth. All of us have been affected by some of the above though, with the group as a whole subject to it all and it really has to stop. THIS is the gay agenda. It is the one and only gay agenda in town. It’s not sinister, it’s not evil, it’s not destructive and it’s most certainly not a corrupting influence on society. It’s equality, pure and simple. I’ll say that word again, in case anybody missed it the first time… it’s equality.
One final time, I state here and now, “Yes, I support the Gay Agenda, and I support it wholeheartedly without shame or reservation.”
Are you with me? Whether gay, straight, trans, queer; whatever or whoever you are, will you join me in this statement?
Every now and again we’re reminded at No More Lost of why we are here; as it says in our tag line, “To stop any more LGBT deaths because of bigotry, and remember those we have lost”. It’s a monumental aim, but the sentiment is the same regardless of how near or far we could ever possibly be to achieving it.
Today’s sad news comes from Gloucestershire, UK, where a 15 year old boy has died following rumours that he kissed another boy during a game of dare, days after returning from a school field trip. Tributes to the young man have poured out on a facebook group dedicated to his memory, which currently stands at 1,288 members.
Dominic Crouch fell to his death from the top of a 6 story building on May 18 last year, within days of returning from that school trip. His family have stated that he was not gay, but never the less he was deeply opposed to all forms of discrimination and hatred. An inquest into his death recorded a verdict of suicide.
The inquest found that “There is no evidence that Dominic was a desperate young man.”
The deputy coroner went on to add: “There is a suggestion that a game of spin-the-bottle was played. It is a game played by numerous young people across the country, especially when they go away on trips like these. It may have concluded in Dominic kissing a boy. But there wasn’t any evidence that it affected Dominic to the extent that he took his own life.”
In a press release, Dominic’s parents have made the following statement: “Dom was clearly upset by rumours he believed were being spread about him and we need to recognise that what may seem like a laugh to one young person can be deeply upsetting to another. We feel that schools need to be much more watchful to the spreading of rumours or gossip about their pupils and teachers need to intervene when pupils seem upset or distracted. Schools also need to know where their pupils are at all times when they are in their care. Dom was missing from school for nearly two hours before he died. And when an absence is noted it needs to be acted upon immediately. We heard at the inquest that the school protocol was not followed.”
Dominic’s death was not that of a gloomy and reclusive person. Dominic was in fact “a happy generally carefree boy who clearly felt deeply upset by rumours he believed were being spread about him.”, as expressed by his parents.
They continued: “On the evening of Tuesday 17 May he was laughing and joking as we watched his favourite TV programme. By the evening of 18 May he was dead from a combination of horrific injuries. Dom may well have acted impulsively but a combination of things that were done or not done helped lead to his final irrevocable decision.”
“Finally, can we repeat what we said at Dom’s funeral to young people – if you ever find yourselves in a similar position then talk to someone before you make a mistake from which you, your family and friends will never recover.”
As if the tragedy in itself were not enough, Dominic’s parents have also reported that “The single most upsetting thing to come from the inquest was to learn that our beloved son had texted 999 some 20 minutes before he died, but as the system was designed and intended only for registered deaf users, no emergency service was alerted.”
Dominic’s parents now have the uneviable task of rebuilding their shattered lives. Dominic’s family are fund raising for a childrens hospital in South Africa, and would appreciate people taking a look at the Just Giving page set up in his memory, which has so far raised over £3,000.
You can’t help but to take a moment’s pause here. This is a tragedy for so many reasons, and as we see so tragically demonstrated, heterosexual people can be victims of homophobic abuse too. The main issue of homophobic abuse is not especially that it’s homophobic, as clearly important as that is; it’s the fact that it’s a kind of abuse fuelled by fear, intolerance and hatred; abuse that any of us can fall victim to, whether deserved or not. Homophobia is not only damaging to gay people, but is damaging to straight people, families, communities and even the world at large.
We keep posting here at No More lost. We post information on current events, we deconstruct actions and statements fuelled by hatred, fear or bigotry to show them for just what they are, we post good news stories, and we try to inform people on how they can make a difference while also posting articles that aim to inform of how and what difference is currently being made even now as we sit here. Every time someone comments positively on an article here, that too is making a difference and showing those young and/or vulnerable people who make their way to this page that things are improving, that things can be different and that sometimes things really are different to the way they may sometimes seem. On this occasion, as happens from time to time, we find ourselves sadly reporting on and remembering one we have lost. ‘We’ aren’t just LGBT people. ‘We’re’ anybody that stands against the bigotry, hatred and intolerance that so many people face, straight or gay, as a result of the fear and intolerance of LGBT people… We seek to see to it that there are no more lost. Unfortunately, on this occasion, we have another shining light in this world, now extinguished, to be remembered.
The loss of a person deeply opposed to all forms of hatred and intolerance is the loss of one of the very kind of people this world needs: It’s a loss to the world.
We pass our sympathies and condolences to this young man’s friends and family, and note with sadness this should not have happened in this day and age for a variety of reasons. We hope that you will join us in offering your condolences too.
California has already stepped up the the problem of LGBTQA bullying with measures such as SB 48 which states that social studies should cover the positive contribution of LGBTQA people on the country and society. However they are moving forward with more measures such as AB 620 which creates an anti-bullying policy that should make schools and colleges take issues of lgbtqa-phobic bullying seriously.
Surprisingly the anti-equality forces in California are worried because it will mean that the bullying that happens against LGBTQA people on campus will be noticed, reported and dealt with. They miss the days when both the teachers and students would openly bully LGBTQA people for being “different”, and they know that its far more difficult to hate people who you know and understand.
The so called California Family Council are saying that its going to oppress christians, because lgbtqa-phobic behavior is natural and normal for children and they should not be punished. The SB 48 Bill raised this almost protocol of zion like response from Father Joh Malloy saying that the primary contribution of LGBTQA people is the destruction of society.
If you see it as a vital part of your faith to be allowed to browbeat your fellow students with religious dogma, targeting those who have the audacity to not only not listen to your bile, but dare to want to live proud and noble lives, then yes this policy is going to get in the way. Just the same as a white supremacist cannot abuse people of different skin colors in a school environment you cannot abuse LGBTQA people without consequences.
The religious right knows that if they loose this generation of their youth to openness and tolerance, that they will be the last generation that is so full of religious hate. Here’s the advert for True Tolerance a project of James Dobson’s group the focus on the family.
The agenda is clear with this this site, it is to trivialize the real problem of bullying of LGBTQA people, to suggest that there are minorities who are subjected to far worse bullying so you can ignore the woes of LGBTQA youth.
California is not listening to this rhetoric, they are continuing to push forward against the plague of bullying with the support of the teachers, parents, and students, hopefully leading the nation in moving forward.
As a trans person, trans issues are where I personally find most traction – though I’m also queer, and lesbian. For me personally, however, it’s being trans that has the greatest bearing on how I’m treated sometimes, because for those who see it and are inclined to be awkward, this wholly inconsequential fact of my existence overrides all others and they make it an issue. Once upon a time it would embarrass me – these days, not so much so. While this article is primarily trans related, it could equally find some traction with other people who identify with the LGBTQIA grouping.
After reading what turned out to be quite possibly the best ‘Trans 101′ I have ever read, I decided to look at what else the author of the piece had written, I soon stumbled on this; The Trans Power Manifesto. I could ramble on forever about what Asher Bauer says in this article, but I encourage you to read it for yourselves. Instead, all I need say here is that it starts;
Hello trans people. It’s a fucked up world, isn’t it? We’ve all got plenty of problems. As trans people, we suffer from poverty, violence, lack of employment, lack of education, bigotry, contempt, and constant hostile scrutiny in public. We are desperate, and we have nowhere to turn.
… and ends;
A small reality check– as good as this all sounds, I realize, of course, that there are situations in which retaliation is simply not safe, when it could lose you a job, a home, or even your life. Recognizing that we are all outgunned most of the time is another part of trans power, because trans power means never minimizing what is happening to us all, all the time. We have to find ways to network and organize and give each other support. It is hard when we have so few resources, but we do have one resource in abundance, and that is our rage. I think that anger could be our strength, our emergency reserve, our five-hour energy shot. But it will never help us if we keep turning it on ourselves instead of allowing our attackers to feel it.
Does this make sense? Am I crazy? Am I overreacting? Or is this story your story, this truth, your truth?
Is “trans power” the name of your anger today?
I’m sure the message is clear just from those two paragraphs. Inspired by the article, a few weeks later I found the opportunity to put its sentiment into practice. At a local shop I visit regularly, there’s often a young guy and an older guy serving behind the counter. The young guy never fails to gender me correctly, and treats me with decency, courtesy and a very friendly manner every time. The older guy is a different story. On this occasion, when I went into the shop I was greeted in the usual manner by the younger guy – a non-patronising, friendly “hello dear”, such is his way. I held a conversation with them both and all went well, until of course I tried to pay the older guy for my purchases. “That’ll be £21.68, Sir.” This was deliberate. Very deliberate.
“Actually, that’s Madam”, I responded… I wasn’t going to stand for it. I was somewhat taken aback when he confidently responded.
“I’m just old fashioned”, he said.
Old fashioned? since when is such blatant impoliteness and bad manners old fashioned in the traditional well mannered days of yesteryear? Old fashioned is having manners, not feigning ignorance and pretending it’s polite! Needless to say, I wasn’t going to let it drop there…
“There’s nothing old fashioned about it!”, I replied, wielding the debit cart I intended to use to pay, which clearly displayed my name and correct title of ‘Miss’. “It’s just as well that my bank aren’t ‘old fashioned’ too isn’t it, lest I not be able to pay you owing to a card in the wrong legal name and title!”
He didn’t respond to that. At all. In fact, much as he probably brushed it off, it showed him up for the sort of person his behaviour suggested. A further incident will result in my telling him of my intent to contact his employer, or failing that, to contact his employers franchise to tell them just how the staff treat long time paying customers!
I felt satisfied. I felt good about myself. What I didn’t feel was a hint of embarrassment or upset. What overcame me rather than negative feelings about myself was indignation at the man’s behaviour. I was angry, I was rightly angry, and I damned well showed him as much, taking him down a peg in the process. Of course, having the moral high ground, and feeling no discomfort, I continued to engage him in idle conversation about the weather before leaving, showing just who the better person was!
The moral of this story? Well, even when you think you’re done with it, it just keeps coming, doesn’t it? The thing is, you actually don’t have to care! Yes, it can hurt, and yes, it can strike out at you…. and yes, it can make out lives far harder than they need to be… but we don’t need to lie down and take it. We don’t need to rise above and transcend it.
Those that would criticise us as being aggressive towards those who wrong us can be damned right, but it doesn’t make us any less women or men…. it makes us people. REAL people, with self esteem, and with the knowledge that its US who have the moral high ground. It’s US who have the courage to be ourselves and to stand up for what’s right. as real people, it’s both our responsibility and right to react to those who wrong us as any other human being would and let them know about it in no uncertain terms. It’s not worth putting your life at risk for (for example, LGBTQIA or not, it isn’t a good idea to front up to a guy with a gun in his hands!), but from day to day, and from place to place, stand up for yourself, your pride, your self esteem, your moral high ground and your right to be yourself, because you can, and you deserve it! Be angry when someone pointlessly and/or deliberately offends you – because it’s natural, and because you have the right!
It may be slow in doing this, but it looks like as a result of the Office of Civil rights realizing the serious problem of lgbtqa-phobic bullying and torment going on in American schools.
The problem is systemic, its not just about incidents where you have isolated bullying against specific victims, its about a problem where these schools do not recognize or deal with the problems, its about a culture of discriminating against people who are different.
From the schoolboard, down to the teacher level, and in the yard, if you are attacked for many things they’ll jump to it, but being criticized for being different, thats allowed. I remember the sheer terror at school of being outed, even though i wasn’t out to myself, the accusation would have been bad enough.
If you are a teacher or school official, you should present an unequivocal message, that being LGBTQA is perfectly natural and healthy, and that religious sensibilities should not be brought into the equation because they come from a time prior to modern understanding of LGBTQA nature.
When someone feels they are being harassed for who they are, then school officials should take action, and treat it as seriously as any other issue of harassment.
Story via Pink News