If I had to write down the number of times that someone told me I was “One of the good lesbians,” I’d have a piece of paper that wrapped around an entire room.
And I’m tired of it.
I’m tired of your casual homophobia, the little comments and all of the snide remarks. This includes the “Oh, you don’t even look gay,” the “Wow, I’d go gay for you” and every time a person assumes that someone’s partner is their sibling.
Sure, not everyone intends it to be negative or harmful. And sure, you might not feel like you’re perpetuating stereotypes when you imply that someone is one of the “good” gays.
Yet, it holds everyone to a standard that straight people have created. It implies that to be accepted, LGBTQ+ people have to conform to a specific way of being.
It implies that if you don’t, you aren’t deserving of the same support, the same acceptance, or the same rights. And of course, most people understand that homophobia exists, because the big picture is easy.
But language like this has implications that go beyond what people’s intentions are when they speak. Words aren’t always malicious, but they certainly aren’t neutral. The language we use has power, consequences and can shut down an entire conversation in an instant.
The comment might not seem noteworthy to you. It might not even seem like an issue to you, but we have to keep in mind that everyone’s experiences are different. What one person considers a harmless remark can linger in someone else’s mind for days.
All of us need to be more intentional with our language. We have to examine the lens that we’re speaking from, and understand that casual comments can be interpreted in so many ways.
And of course, at the same time, we have to be understanding of those that make mistakes.
I know that most of the time, it’s not on purpose. I’m willing to educate those that are willing to learn. We need to take the step towards education and understanding, when we’re in a position that allows us to do so safely. Sometimes, we have to put our shields down and take that step out of our comfort zone.
If someone doesn’t mean to attack, then there’s no reason to be on defense. And most importantly, we have to do better than we are right now. We have to take a breath, slow down and consider how our language can harm others.