I recently requested to be removed from an email list of members of my ex-church who live in or near my neighborhood. One of the initiatives this year is a sort of “get to know your neighbors” series of shared meals, and I was tired of receiving emails about Spanish appetizers and wine tastings. Gosh, spend more time with liberal white straight people who dearly wish to believe I’m “just like them”? What a treat!
We’re about to be snowed in again. I said to Tex, “Well, maybe the boys can hang out with the K’s,” our neighbors. Tex said bitterly and referring to many disappointments from years past, “No, they’re probably going to their straight snow-bound parties to have fun.”
How ironic that one of the things some of the members of the above-mentioned church said when some of us queers were trying to initiate queer space in the supposedly “welcoming” congregation was ,“Your Gay Soirees sound like so much fun!” in a droll, slightly hurt, slightly hopeful way.
Tex and I were talking again about the whole “LGBT-friendly” caregivers support group we didn’t go to last night (see last post). When I asked the social worker if she was straight, she said in the most snippety fashion imaginable, “BISEXUAL!” Ah, I said, thank you for telling me. We hung up, and I muttered, somewhat snippety in my own right, “Yeah, you slept with a girl in college but you’ve been married to a man for 30 years and live a totally straight life!”
Tex and I were musing that there are straight people we know and love who are queerer than a lot of the folks who used to sidle up to me at church and confess that they were bisexual. It’s a cultural thing – are you at least somewhat conversant with what’s going on in the queer world? Or do you just want to trade in on that time you kissed a girl and thought it was ok so you can come to the rainbow glitter unicorn kaffee klatch that just sounds so cool?
Ok – if you say you’re queer, you’re queer and you get to come, I would never bar the door or do a pantie check or anything like that. But please, do say you’re queer! Don’t lurk! Agh, what am I trying to say. I guess something about just letting us not be just like you, not all of us are (I would say none of us are).
Derald Wing Sue says that so many of his academic white friends want to treat him like a white man because it makes them feel more comfortable and it maintains the power imbalance. In his book Overcoming our Racism: The Journey to Liberation, he describes a dinner date with a white male colleague, to whom, the entire evening, everyone in the restaurant gave preferential treatment. Sue attempted to discuss this with his friend, who had a big fit and denied everything. Sue writes, “It suddenly dawned on me that unearned White privilege is seen as a source of strength and that it provides Euro-Americans with the permission to deny its existence and use it to dominate others! I realized the insidious and seductive effect of White privilege on White Euro-Americans. Why should you want to give up a world that is made for you?”
My dear reader knows that I in no way believe that “Gay is the New Black” and in fact find that statement to be racist and idiotic, but I do think some comparisons with racism can be useful in understanding heterosexism and homophobia, and this is one of them. Wing goes on to say that whites have a stake in racism, because it props up the world they benefit from, just as straight people have a stake in homophobia for the same reason.
If an institution like a church is unable to see that work needs to be done in order to allow minorities their own cultural space then that right there is the reason there aren’t more minorities in the institution. It’s pretty simple, actually. It’s certainly why I left.
But where do I go now? The preponderance of queers here in the burbs are certainly doing their best to assimilate, keep a low profile. Recognizing what’s going on is the first step to doing something about the situation, I suppose.
Anyone want to come over for a party?