I will completely admit that I found it amusing a few weeks ago when gay men started posting pictures of themselves holding hands, kissing, being intimate, and tagging it Proud Boys. I noticed though sometimes it bothered me as well, I couldn’t place it. It wasn’t the gay men that bothered me, it was the cis-gendered straight white dudes, but I didn’t realize that at the time.
Fast forward to yesterday when I was on Facebook and a good friend, who absolutely had no ill intentions, posted an image of two men holding hands. I completely admit it, yes I love to watch Proud Boys members squirm. I think they are ridiculous, and I also admit that isn’t the high road.
There is nothing wrong per se with the image, but I immediately realized what bothered me, the fact that people, especially non-LBGTQIA people, were using the rainbow flag, homosexuality, etc to attack someone. This struck me as once again using the status of a minority group to attack someone, albeit I can see that the intention was trying to be good, it didn’t feel good to me anymore.
I would never say something to a member of the LGBTQIA+ umbrella if they utilized the slurs, or the imagery, or the mockery of someone. I don’t like doing it, but they have the right to try and take back what they need from the discrimination and hatred we suffer all the time, by using the aggressors’ words against them.
I was really bothered that people who weren’t in the rainbow decided to use my status (after all I lived with hubby for more than five years as a gay couple… holy shit was it that long?). The status of being gay shouldn’t be attacked, nor should it be used to attack someone else.
It felt like being a teenager and being called queer or a faggot. True, in this setting it was more making fun of the bigot then the minority, but it was once again using a minority status to attack someone.
It is the same reason I get upset when even good meaning allies or LGBTQIA+ people themselves start attacking someone for wearing a skirt or dress, even if the target of the mocking is a horrendous person. It once again utilizes a minority status or trait as a weapon, which means society still hasn’t accepted fully that status if they would use it to “other” someone else.
You wouldn’t respond favorably if someone who wasn’t of the appropriate minority started painting afros on Proud Boys to mock them. Of course, those minorities can do as they want with their own image, but a white man painting an afro on a Proud Boy is at best insensitive, and more likely subconsciously still racist. The same goes for using sexual orientation as a mocking point, a straight white cis dude mocking another probably straight white cis dude by painting them in homoerotic imagery is at best insensitive and more than likely showing some subconscious homophobia.
Mine or anyone else’s sexual orientation shouldn’t be used as a mocking point, even if its to defend that orientation. Being gay isn’t bad, and while I get the nuance of what people are trying to paint Proud Boys with, it comes off as using once again the term gay as a weapon.
This bothered me for a chunk of the morning, so I sent a private DM to the person and explained that I understood they were not meaning anything bad, and they were trying to be an ally. However, I explained how I felt about it and that is why I wouldn’t be responding to their post (I respond to all their posts, that’s what you do for friends). I made it explicitly clear that I wasn’t asking them to take it down, just why it bothered me.
They gave me a link to an amazon page showing the image as a reason why it wasn’t using being gay in a weaponized fashion. They pushed the fact someone was selling items with the image on amazon somehow made it pro-LGBTQIA. They then told me how it was about pride and that I missed their point.
They finished it off by asking me “You do realize now how ridiculous your position is, yes?”
I was heated when I responded, telling them they have no right to call my position ridiculous and they can’t tell me I can’t be bothered by it. I explained I was the one who lived for years as a gay man, and now as a transgender female I get lumped in with gay men, and transgender women. I hear both sets of insults all the time.
I explained even if the intention was good, using the term gay so you can make fun of someone is still diminishing that term and using it as a weapon. It bothered me a lot when someone who doesn’t face any of that discrimination decides that they can use that term “as an ally” to harm someone else. I may hate Proud Boys, but what is right is right, and that includes not using someone’s identity as a weapon against them.
They responded “It’s no worse than calling someone a Brunette, and that Gay is only an insult you think it is, and that it wasn’t an insult to them.
I admit I sort of lost my shit at that time as I explained that people don’t get lynched, shot, evicted, or targeted because they are brunettes and that it was not the same thing.
I explained to them, that their white, cisgendered, heteronormative self has no idea what its like to be called a faggot, tranny, abomination and that in no way do they have any place trying to “mansplain” to me what is or isn’t offensive to someone who has been the recipient of that slur.
I explained that the person didn’t have to fear for their lives when they see a Proud Boy (honestly it is probably even more dangerous for me because I am more likely to get mouthy with one… not a smart survival move on my part).
I have to admit, before I transitioned, even when I was just perceived as a gay man I didn’t realize how much anxiety being around someone who hates you that much. I knew logically that it happened, but I didn’t feel it until I walked around in a skirt and men would look at me like they wanted to boot stomp me and always wanting to take pictures, subtle threats and constant microagressions (from men and women).
While my experiences in life are different I think I have a much much better understanding of what a black person feels (but I would still never understand the nuances of the racism, while they would never understand the nuances of the harassment and threats I get). It is something I wish I had understood when I was young, but I don’t think a cis/straight/white/Christian appearing dude would ever be able to truly understand.
I went on to explain that I didn’t think the word Gay was insulting, but it was being used to mock proud boys, which means it is being used to insult them, which means it is still an insult. I explained I found that offensive (this conversation cemented that feeling) and that they couldn’t tell me, what I believe is ridiculous. You don’t get to tell someone who is under constant threat what is threatening and what isn’t.
I have to give them full kudos though, I expected to either get yelled at, ignored or blocked but they waited a little while and responded that they would defer to me and they pulled their post and said they still loved me and wanted to make sure we were still good.
Of course, we are still good. The fact that they stepped back and even if they disagree with me they put their privilege card down and responded as a friend and ally meant a lot to me.
I didn’t want them to take down the post, even at the end of this argument. It is their page and they can post what they want, all I wanted to do was give feedback on how it made me felt.
I didn’t realize how strongly I felt until this happened yesterday, and now I feel it even more strongly as I write it here.
Don’t paint anyone as a stereotype, or a minority to mock them, even if it’s in defense of a minority. If you aren’t that minority you have even less reason to do it. Mocking Proud Boys with rainbow flags does nothing but incite people, and use our sexual identity as a weapon.
Just stop… please.