We Need to See, Not Look Past, People’s Sexual Orientations

By S. (October 11, 2018)



So this is a thing that pisses me off. If you care about me, you should care about my sexual orientation. My sexual orientation defines so many aspects of my life and it limits me in many ways. Not caring about my orientation means not caring about the ways I am different from our heterosexual norms, or the ways in which I am hurt by the heterosexual norms. THIS IS WHY COMING OUT IS SUCH A BFD! I am literally sharing something very important, potentially very scary, and very fundamental about who I am. Yes, yes you should care.

And you should keep in mind my sexual orientation in our daily interactions. You can’t simply translate assumptions about dating from straight world to gay world. The variables and challenges LGBTQIA peeps face are very different from those of the straight world. Gay men in particular are facing an epidemic of loneliness and such notions of not seeing sexual orientation disregard that epidemic. Of course, in our recent history we faced a much worse, more deadly epidemic, that has not fully disappeared, but seems to have been largely erased from discussion.

Part of the issue is that when we don’t take sexual orientation into account we default to heterosexuality. For example, we are all trained not to assume children’s sexual orientations. However this translates into assuming all children are straight until proven otherwise. This implies that there’s something so distasteful as to be unspeakable about the possibility that a little boy might be gay. (I can’t speak to other sexual orientations and I’m treading on thin ice in generalizing my experience). As a gay child, my queerness was something tiptoed around, something to be corrected, something to be beaten out of me, and something to be ashamed of. This was a source of considerable trauma for me and for many gay men (see The Velvet Rage).

An example of ignoring sexual orientation can be seen in Voltron, of all places. In an interview with one of the producers, they discuss their decision to make one of the mains gay. The producer said that they didn’t put the characters’ orientations in the show’s bible (each serial TV show has a showbible that contains all of the important info about each character) because they didn’t want to focus on orientations. Yet, there’s a straight male character who has a crush on a female character. That’s a sexual orientation, folks. Boy meets girl is such a norm that we don’t realize it is as much a proclamation of sexual orientation as coming out.

You all should be woke enough by now to understand why “I don’t see race” is terrible. When we don’t see race, we are defaulting to a white norm. I hope you all can understand why “I don’t care about your orientation” is just as bad.

See people’s orientations. Respect that their orientation is part of what makes them who they are. Listen and connect. Don’t ignore and hide!

Our Movements Work Best When We Listen to the Discomfort

By S. (January 28, 2018)

I am not a woman but I am a queer POC of color. We face common enemies but sometimes we become the enemy. I try my best to listen to women so that my behavior is not harmful or at least less harmful to women. My gut instinct in the Grace and Aziz storywas to side with Aziz. This was based on my training to be a toxic male. All of us cis guys get it. I was literally told by an older boy in high school that if I wanted to get laid, that I had to keep pushing a girl past her boundaries, and that eventually she’d give in, and I’d get laid. I was also told that getting laid was the most important accomplishment for a boy and a man. I was given advice to behave how Aziz treated Grace.

My initial sympathies were with Aziz because of how society has trained both of us to treat women. Intellectually, I knew Aziz was wrong but emotionally it was difficult to see him be criticized. I had to stop and listen. I had to read the various opinion pieces and listen to my female friends to help me work past those initial feelings of sympathy. I still feel sympathy for Aziz, but I’m horrified at how much I discounted Grace’s feelings in my initial assessment.

I too love the pink pussy hats. I love the idea that so many women from around the country and the world got together to knit this hats. My Women’s March 2017 experience was beautiful and exhilarating. I see the hat and my heart soars, it takes me back to a magic special moment. Then I started listening to the discomfort and the pain that some women of color feel regarding the hat. This symbol that has personal power for me is hurtful for someone else. I need to take into account that tension. I need to understand that people with whom I am connected (through politics, race, personal connections, etc.) may see a symbol or an event very differently from me. I also need to consider the power differential in our connections, as the power imbalance may perpetuate harms. For example, as a man, my perspective may unconsciously be supporting a status quo that favors men.

I can’t speak for feminism, but I can speak as a gay man of color. I believe our movements (for me racial equality and advancement of LGBTQIA rights) work best when we stop and listen so that we can address the discomforts of our members and our allies. I think it is critical that we pay extra attention to the voices of those who come from the groups that are more marginalized and have less structural power than ourselves.

When is an ally poised to become a deserter?

By Alex Sabrina Morgan

When is an ally poised to become a deserter?

When an interest in politics or equality extends as far as their genitals or their brand positioning, and stops short of the zone of personal risk or uncertainty.

Continue reading “When is an ally poised to become a deserter?”