Over the last three days, thousands of people have clicked to read my piece. Hundreds have left comments. I read and am appreciative of all of them. I encourage you to keep writing, although I won’t be posting comments on my blog.
The Internet is a crazy thing. Had I known, so many people were going to read and re-post my article, I might have organized my work differently. That said, I stand by all of my points. And I am glad about all the different conversations they have fostered.
I wrote my piece as a response to the way that Dan and Terry’s video went viral so quickly. I was thinking about 1) why it was that THAT video was so popular and liked and 2) why the video made me and many of my friends uncomfortable. Also, I wanted to know whether those questions were related. Did it seem so painful because it was so popular? I am not capable of, nor would I want to, destroy Dan and Terry’s message. There are a multitude of ways to be queer. Dan’s isn’t the only voice… and neither is mine.
Instead, I want to complicate the dialogue.
It is relevant that so many people watched the video and were hurt. Our pain doesn’t come from over-sensitivity: it comes from a history of looking at the face of the queer movements and being told that our priorities as folks who come from multiple minorities, are less important or not LGB enough for LGB time and money. It comes from run-in after run-in with invisibly oppressive powers and institutions that leave us injured, but with no clear culprit to fight against.
This is not about fine-tuning everything we say so that it is perfect and “politically correct.” This is about building a movement that isn’t too embarrassed to evolve. It’s about humility and about learning how best to support queer youth (and other folks) by challenging ourselves to think in new ways. It’s about actually working to do our activism better and more responsibly, having the guts to say we were wrong and to change. I hope and believe that there is enough space in our movements that we can revise our beliefs, and our methods, when we learn something new.
My piece evolved after several conversations with other queers who felt similarly put-off, upset, or frustrated by Dan and Terry’s message, and the popularity of it. My enumeration helped us to identify oppressive elements in the piece, in the project, and in the world. I know that it did many things once I posted it on the web– but one of the things was to help share these identifications with others. Because for every message I got telling me that my piece was pointlessly destructive, I got two saying thank you for doing something constructive in response to the “It Gets Better” project.
Expressing dissent is a constructive project. When we name our oppressors, we are not nit-picking. When we identify huge, systemic injustices that seem invisible to many people, we are not over-reacting. When we describe the repercussions of assumptions made by liberal organizations, we are not ungratefully destroying the only positive work in the world. It is not fair or productive to tell anyone who is hurt by well-intentioned actions that they are simply “missing the point.”
I am happy to see so much controversy going on. Conversations like these can remind us that we are not crazy– that our pain is not imaginary or unfounded. We describe the way we are violated to heal, to protect ourselves, to warn others. We tell each other where we bump up against the invisible lobes of injustice, so that we can learn to move around them or to destroy them. This is why it’s a conversation we need and not a cacophony of reassurances. Sometimes in order to have hope, you first need to know that what you’re feeling is dire and unique– and that you have the right to be taken seriously.