The last year or so has been a rough time for me, and as such I need to pick and choose the times that I plan to go out and be around people. I can have good days where I’m happy and sociable, and I can have bad days where I can’t summon the energy to be among them. I had actually planned on not going to Pride this year, not as a protest, but as a way to acknowledge that my personal health is important.
Flash forward a couple of weeks later and I realize that my personal health and the health of all those who are part of the LGBTQ has a great deal to do with showing up for Pride festivities.
Today I had the displeasure to be part of a conversation in which a woman took offense on a meme stating that straight people don’t need a parade for themselves and that they should be thankful that they don’t need one. She had the feeling that “cis” was some sort of derogatory term, and she stated that “the tide is turning.”
Her words stuck with me because in this case, (as in every case where a minority attempts to rise above persecution and oppression) there seems to be this idea that to give everyone rights, someone else must give theirs up. Her logic is that nowadays, a gay couple or a black couple could come in and complain about a restaurant and they could use the gay or black “card.”
Let’s ignore for a second that this very specifically assumes that gay or black people are likely to just be shitty customers and attempt to use this status to boss people around. Let’s instead focus on how this person likened the constant fight for People of Color and non-heteronormative people to simply *exist* to having a bad review at a restaurant.
So sure, I have to scope out my environment when I hold my boyfriend’s hand to make sure no one’s going to beat us up. Sorry about your poor yelp review.
Okay, so a black kid can carry a toy gun in an open carry state and get shot immediately on camera, but man, I’m so sad no one likes your fucking crab cakes.
Despite attempts to convince her otherwise, she held fast to her belief that “cis” is a derogatory term, citing her experiences online. She went on to explain to us, with her vast amount of straight wisdom, that by creating labels for ourselves we are Othering ourselves and our communities. “Why can’t we just call each other human,” she asks as she continues to write LGBTQQIP2SAA+ to make fun of all of the letters that are part of our movement. Strangely enough, I think she’s more right than she knows.
Why can’t we? We are all human, why can’t we just be that? Why do we need labels?
Because of people like you, Becky.
Maybe out in the universe is a world where there is no homophobia. Where all people are accepted without question, where we haven’t inherited centuries of religious persecution, toxic masculinity or rampant colonialism. It’s nice to believe, but that isn’t the world we live in. We need these labels, not to Other ourselves but to Identify ourselves. We *are* different, and that’s the best part. We label Asexual for people who would identify that way but don’t know what it is because society sweeps it under the rug. We have chosen trans person because the one that ends with “ny” is steeped in fear that doesn’t belong to us. These are the labels that we have chosen to create our space in a world that can only benefit from everyone having a place at the table.
So yes, the tide is turning. We are seeing a new world where we can plan enormous parades or protests with a tiny computer in our pocket. People are becoming aware of the dire imbalances in our society, from the need for Black Lives Matter to the fight for marriage equality.
So I will be going to Pride, I will welcome my straight allies, and I will welcome People of Color, and I will welcome my fellow LGBT+ people. We’re not here to eliminate straight people, we’re here to eliminate bigotry.