Friday, 20 May 2011

Well meaning support - covered in sting straight privilege

So we have an article with lots of well meaning but very very clueless straight people

First of all we have Philipp Lahm warning gay football players that if they come out, they will face difficulties and abuse – it is phrased as a warning. And no, I don't think it's a homophobic thing to say per se, because it's very true – people who are openly gay anywhere tend to face homophobic abuse, let alone in the oh-so-manly world of sport. But it's also not that simple.

Now I never would presume to speak on behalf of the gay community, far from it. In fact when I see “spokespeople” who do presume to do so I am generally left with an urge to hit them with a very large fish.

However, in this instance, I think I am reasonably confident in saying that “well DUH!” is going to be a pretty common response here.

I mean, being openly gay may subject you to homophobia? Really? SHOCK HORROR, thank you Mr. Straight Man, I'd never ever have guessed! We don't need straight people to tell us this and we don't need

Moving on to Manuel Neuer who said “Yes, those who are gay should say so. It relieves a burden.” Ok, Mr. Neuer – if you're gay you're a hypocrite by telling other gay players what they “should” do when you have not. If you are not gay then button it, clueless straight man. Do not tell gay people whether we should or should not be closeted. And do not talk about the “burden” because you have ZERO idea what that burden is or what it means or the risk of coming out.

Further “And the fans will get over it quickly. What matters is the performance delivered by the player, not his sexual preference.” Ok I'll let “sexual preference” go as a translation problem, much as I loathe the term. But “the fans will get over it quickly.” Really? Are football fans radically different from the rest of society? Because, guess what, everyone else hasn't “got over it quickly.”

But it continues, Mario Gomez adds “They would play as if they had been liberated. Being gay should no longer be a taboo topic.” “Should not” doesn't mean “isn't”. There should be no consequences of coming out but there is. And again what is with these straight people telling us how gays would or would not feel about coming out?

How about this? How about straight people say they would welcome openly gay people, would give us the same respect they would straight people, would stand with us for equality and would defend us against they bigots? That, that would be of the good. This is a good thing to say and do

And shelve the rest. We don't need “warnings” about homophobia. We know – we know waaaay better than straight people do. We don't need to be told to come out, we don't need straight people to tell us we what we should or should not do. Straight people have no idea what the closet and coming out means or costs and are not in a position to tell us about either. And most certainly we don't need straight people to tell us what we would or would not feel.

It's always difficult to call out well meaning cluelessness. Because I think there is a lot of well intentioned, sincerely positive motivation here. But, it has been said before, intent isn't magic. And it'd be nice if the sincerely meant support didn't come wrapped in a big bunch of stinging straight privilege. Like cakes wrapped in thistles. Now isn't that a depressing thought?