Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Identifying Homosexuality in Indiana

This article takes a tongue-in-cheek look at passing privilege and the issue of identifying who may legally be discriminated against.  How do you "tell" if someone is homosexual?  Sometimes the person advertises it, sometimes it may be inferred from clues, but most of the time it is not so obvious.  This of course raises the issue of misconceptions; many cissexual, heterosexual people have been beaten or even murdered because someone mistakenly thought they were queer.  So too, Indiana will quickly discover that legalizing discrimination against homosexuals will also hit some heterosexuals.

And then there are those of us whose warning label should say, "Activist: push to start."  (I actually have that on a red button.)  Sure, there are times when I use passing privilege of various types because it's easy and I don't have an infinite supply of spoons, or when I believe that acting up would be dangerous.  But there are other times when I'll act up even if it is dangerous, and if I judge it safe, I will make a great big hairy scene.  Never get into a blurting contest with an annoyed bard, you will lose.  Because I can handle the kind of heat that bigots give off when someone objects to them being bigots, and not everyone can, and I want them to know that civilized people won't let them act like giant assholes without at least calling them out for it.

You can readily identify a queer person who does something like, "Oh gosh, you have a sign that says you don't serve queer people in here.  I guess I'll leave this big basket of stuff on the counter and take my $96 queer dollars to a store that is not run by giant assholes."

Just because I'm currently wearing a female body and in a permanent relationship with someone in a male body does not make me any less queer.  It's just a little harder to see from this angle, until I open my mouth.  As long as someone mistaking me for a heterosexual woman doesn't cause an issue, meh, I usually don't care.  Random strangers don't need to know my weirdnesses.  But when it IS an issue?  Open mouth, fire full broadside.  

This is why I got beef with people who claim that privilege is inescapable.  It's not.  It really, really  is not.  In fact it's a lot more frangible than people realize.  You can very easily lose your privilege if someone else mistakes you for a member of a disadvantaged group or if you are forcibly attached to it for some reason.  You can also choose to drop your privilege in the crapper and flush it along with all the other shit you don't need, just by voluntarily associating with disadvantaged people or by verbally dispensing with it when people offer you privilege that you don't want to accept.  Bigots will enthusiastically diss you for any or all of that.  

It's not all or nothing, of course.  If your association is not obvious, then you may have the option of picking your battles.  That lets you stay reasonably safe while still making a difference.  You might flush one privilege today and a different one tomorrow.  You might wax and wane your advertisement of hidden traits based on how much energy you have for a given cause or whether it makes you feel bad to hide (or reveal) what you are.  It's your life, your choice.

Just understand that it is a choice, just as bigotry or tolerance are choices.
Tags: activism, economics, gender studies, networking, politics, reading, safety
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