TW: Violence against queers, Christianity, forced sex
Oh look, something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately appears.
This is actually such a big deal that a lot of queer people I’ve met have pissed me the fuck off over it. Two sides to this coin:
1: ‘You’re queer? But you only date _____”
2: ‘You’re still in the closet? How oppressed can you be if nobody knows you’re queer?’
And I’m going to address both of these simultaneously and this will mostly be a massive jumble of feelings so hold on.
A lot of straight people (especially in fundamentalist Christian circles) don’t actually believe that queer people exist. Most of the people I met before I turned 18 believed that it was a choice or, more accurately, an active rebellion against God. Sorry, but I dunno a lot of straight men who’d overcome their patriarchal repulsion for dick just because they hate Jesus that much. Not buying that one.
Thus is born the concept of proving queerness. Also the questions like ‘well have you just tried having sex with women???’ ‘What if it’s just a phase??’ ‘Wouldn’t it just be simpler to be straight?’ The questions all center around the concept of queerness being a choice, because God doesn’t make mistakes. The problem must be with you. Although, in the end, God is a tool of patriarchy too. Admitting that people are born queer would be admitting that God made you queer. And we’re a reflection of God (men, at least). White men won’t worship a queer god. We won’t be made in his image. And we won’t believe that sometimes women were made to love other women, as God intended for them to serve us. We don’t know wtf to think about trans people. We don’t, a lot.
So queerness must be a choice, but I still shudder at queer people constantly reinforcing that this is the way we were born. Because, although I understand the point of refuting the argument, should we have to prove that to merit basic fucking respect? What if it were a choice? It’s not, but still. If it were a choice, would it magically then corrupt the sanctity of marriage? Would it change the fact that hetero recruitment of children exists but LGBTQ recruitment doesn’t? Would anything be different if it actually was a choice? But sometimes that fundamentalism fucks up a lot of us. Sometimes we have to bend the rules to believe that a god loves us even if a lot of his followers don’t believe we exist or deserve even basic respect or protection.
That leaves a lot of us in the closet. And while we’re fighting to maintain our image of straightness, we sometimes have to deal with other queer people who belittle our situations by saying that we’re cowardly, or ashamed of ourselves.
And some of us are ashamed of ourselves. Not because we chose to be or because what we are is shameful, but because this is how oppression works. The oppressors will have you convinced that your condition is your fault. Anything, really, to keep it from being their fault. God made me do it, or society did, just pick one and die already.
The concept of the closet was born of oppression. Moreso for queer People of Color, especially moreso for trans* People of Color. To make somebody detest themselves further for something that they’re already made to be detested for is despicable. Especially when they don’t have the privileges you have, whether those privileges simply consist of a family who will accept you or are as far reaching as a system of centuries of supposed racial superiority that will give you untold advantages in proving yourself to be a human being worthy or respect.
The need for the closet is oppression. The requirement that you prove your queerness in person is oppressive. Ask straight people to prove their straightness in person and watch how defensive they get. Straight is a necessary and inseparable identity for a lot of people, but a lot of them will just see it as normal. Queer is an identity that we’ll be working a long time, even among ourselves, to perceive as normal.
If somebody came after you with a baseball bat every time you walked in the house, you’d be locked in the closet too.
And you don’t need to prove to anybody what you’ve already proven to yourself by overcoming your own subjugation.
It takes a lot for queer people to ID as queer, as gay, as a lesbian, as bisexual, as pansexual, as a trans* person, even within our own minds.
But that’s the proving ground.
And nothing else.
I’ve moved a lot in my life, and I don’t have any parents or safety net to fall back on. This means that I’ve had to get jobs and introduce myself to whole new sets of people and wonder every time if I’m going to be denied raises or a job just for being out. I always come out, though, and it’s usually a positive experience (though one employer sent his wife in to pretend to be an irate customer so he could fire me three days after I came out).
Before I lived on my own, my life was literally in danger just because I’m queer.
The point is, that I understand why people do closets. True, if everyone on earth came out at once, there would probably be a lot more acceptance. But not until after there was a sharp spike in violence toward queer people on that day. People paint a rosy picture, but there it is. Sometimes, people who come out get killed.
So, if you’re in the closet, I’m not going to out you. Ever. And if you’re a runaway, I’m not going to phone that number to get you “safely” back home. I know what that does. I’ve lived it. In all likelihood, you’re not a runaway anyway. Many so-called runaways are just kids who have been kicked out whose parents got caught and didn’t want to go to jail.
Also, something people need to realise is that just because you have one good coming-out experience because of your tremendous privilege despite initial misgivings does not mean that everyone will. I repeat myself: sometimes, people who come out get killed. Or worse.
No one should have to prove they had no choice except to be gay. No justification is needed. If the lack of opportunities, the death threats, the beatings, the “corrective” rapes, exorcisms, emotional blackmail, solitary confinement, negative culture, and everything else weren’t enough to deter you from coming out, then, who the hell are cis-het people to tell you you need justification?
Flip it on its head. Ask them why they’re straight or cis*. There’s no default. If they say it’s normal, that there’s some kind of natural order that dictates our existence, point to the Bonobos and laugh.