Thursday, October 25, 2018

Coming Out Versus Sticking Your Head in the Sand (or Elsewhere)


Thursday, October 11, 2018 marked National Coming Out Day, a recognition and celebration of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer) community. Hard on the heels of that comes proposed legislation to define citizens as either male or female based entirely on their genitalia. Here, friends, we have manufactured division, stoked hatred, and utter ignorance of the realities of our times.

Originally, I had intended to write about my own reaction to Coming Out Day, which would have been friendly enough, but with some trepidation about getting personal pronouns wrong and the embarrassment of unfamiliarity with a whole new vocabulary of categories from the LGBTQ community. While I will share those struggles here, I have absolute disgust for the news that our federal government administration wants to....relieve us of this terrible societal burden of adapting to a new gender landscape.

When I was single, I would sometimes be hit on by gay men. I was not appreciative of that and firmly communicated such, though often the other person would smile in a "knowing" way that I found offensive. I do not consider myself homophobic in any sense, but I did find those episodes a painful reminder of how unsuccessful I was at initiating my own relationships with women. That is where my anger came from. I have also hit on lesbian women in the past and found that to be a demoralizing experience, too. In retrospect, I admire the courage it took for all of those people to communicate their own orientations at a time when it could be life-threatening to do so.

Flash forward to today. I'm glad we have Coming Out Day, and I completely respect however you choose to identify yourself. I think identities of all sorts are a HUGE deal, and I can understand if someone feels the need to assert theirs, especially if it has been oppressed, repressed, or simply unrecognized for so long. Hell, I finally identified myself as "writer" after decades of self-denial.

That said, I hope you will be patient with those of us who grew up in a time when there were still only two recognized genders, and we pretty much assumed everybody was straight. In many ways I feel I have suddenly landed on a completely different planet with all of this non-binary, a-gender, asexual, cis-....vocabulary that I have frankly not given time to learning. I am deathly afraid that if I address someone by an incorrect pronoun that I will be viewed as a bigot, or otherwise insensitive. The one thing that provokes me to anger more than anything is looking like I'm stupid.

I say all of this to be honest, and possibly preemptive. It turns out I have a lot of friends who fall into these "new" categories and I feel like I am now walking on eggshells. Doesn't change the fact I love them all. After all, I tend to make friends based on the person's behavior, values, non-sexual interests, and ability to communicate honestly and unambiguously.

There, I feel better now.....Wh-a-a-a-t?! Our U.S. President wants to draft legislation to define our identities based on our genitalia at birth? In the context of my current understanding of "freedom," this is about the most limiting legislation I could possibly dream up. It is totally political and has zero place in an evolving society. It is wishful thinking on the part of some unenlightened parties who long for "the good 'ol days." I think they call these people reactionaries.

You cannot stick your head in the sand when the cat is out of the bag. Sorry, didn't mean to mix metaphors, but you get my drift. We should be standing united in the face of such manufactured social divisions. They are all designed to distract, so that we fail to see the Wealthy White Male Privilege behind the curtain stealing our money, our freedoms, our rights, and our dignity. We are not divided, but we let them TELL us we are, and then we go and believe it in the face of all the contrary evidence. That is the ultimate fake news.

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