When allies forget that bigotry exists
I’ve written about this before, about Glee fans who can’t understand why we don’t see Kurt and Blaine making out at the Lima Bean. But it’s about so much more than that, and it’s a problem that is increasingly a source of tension between LGB people and our friends/families/allies.
In Modern Family fandom, too, viewers have complained about a scene where a straight couple kiss at the airport and, beside them, the two men merely hug. Ironically, in both fandoms, the lack of gay affection has been blamed on homophobia amongst the writers or producers or the studio. And it is because of homophobia, but not by the writers or the producers or the studios. It has an awful lot to do with homophobia in reality.
In Torchwood: Miracle Day, Captain Jack Harkness says he doesn’t care who knows, but he’s immortal, so I guess that’s a different feeling.
Recently, a gay cyclist said he thought that gay athletes should remain in the closet. And then, a straight rapper said he thought that the gay rappers should come out. He also said it’s because closeted gays spread AIDS, but we’re going to focus on why a straight guy thinks he has any idea what’s involved in coming out as gay.
There are a lot more allies out there than there were 30 years ago. Chances are, if you meet someone new at work, or around town, that they really aren’t bothered that you’re not straight. They might even find it interesting. They may try and set you up with their gay best friend/sister/auntie/Sinead O’Connor. They might tell you which gay bars they frequent. Some of my straight friends know the bars better than I do. Surveys have shown staggering levels of support in Ireland for full marriage equality. The problem is, however, that as acceptance increases, our allies think that homophobia doesn’t exist. Many are also unaware that marriage equality doesn’t actually exist.
I remember once having my affection for my wife questioned because it was perceived that we didn’t touch each other enough. You can ask her, but I have a hard time keeping my hands off my wife. In public, however, we have really good reasons to keep our hands to ourselves (even if we don’t always succeed!).
I’ve been questioned before on why I love going to gay bars so much more than straight bars. When I answer that it’s really nice to hold my wife’s hand stress-free and maybe even have a quick snog, I get those looks. And then I’m told, “who cares what people think?”. My answer?
“I do.” Of course I do. I hear anti-gay slurs often enough to know that it hasn’t even kind of gone away. Not unexpectedly, since cutting my hair, the slurs have become more common, and while they aren’t threats, they feel like it.
Allies: of course it’s wonderful that you love us and accept us and are happy to see us make out in front of you. I think I can safely say, on behalf of gay people everywhere, that we’re delighted. However, you need to remember that you are not the only people we have to exist with. And some of those other people could want to hurt us. Don’t dismiss us, listen to us. Homophobia is, sadly, still as central to our experience as acceptance.