Sunday, 1 March 2015

Teachable Moments

I’m breaking my annoying silence (so much to do, so little time) because something has annoyed me. Actually it’s a string of people annoying me the same way; that perennial call that we need to be nicer to bigoted straight people who do and say bigoted things and really aren’t we great big meanies for daring to judge people for using slurs or avoiding or telling off these bigots when they show their bigoted arses in all their scabby, bigoted glory.

Above all, I’m tired of the dreaded “teachable moment.” I’m tired of when yet another person decides to yell “f@ggot” in whatever media is open to them, it’s demanded that we nicely teach the bigot why that’s not a nice thing to do. I’m tired of being expected to look on a long screed on why I don’t deserve the same rights as anyone else as some kind of opportunity to educate rather than the vicious attack it is. I’m tired of seeing yet another attack against us and being expected to be SYMPATHETIC to the bigot who just trampled all over us.

Because of fucking TEACHABLE MOMENTS.

So let’s talk teachable moments. Mainly let’s talk about how I have absolutely no inclination to take advantage of “teachable moments” provided every time some straight person marauds around with little or no regard for us YET AGAIN.

That’s not to say I don’t want straight people to LEARN a whole lot of things. But teaching can’t happen without willingness to learn – and if there is a willingness to learn then I and a gazillion other LGBTQ people out there have written blogs, books, articles, videos and just about every damn resource possible for straight people to ACTUALLY want to learn. They don’t need “teachable moments”, they need to respect us enough to put some damn effort in.

The problem is not, as the apologist always cry whenever a bigot does anything, IGNORANCE; the problem is RESPECT

It is not having RESPECT enough for us to care whether their words and actions hurt us

It is not having RESPECT enough for us to consider the consequences of what they do or say

It is not having RESPECT enough to learn about us before presuming to insert themselves in our lives and our issues.

It is not having RESPECT enough to recognise that we are the experts in our own lives and when we say something is so, then is it so.

Because of this, the only “teachable moments” I want to have with straight people are:

1)      Don’t say/do bigoted, dehumanising and disrespectful things
2)      Don’t involve themselves in or claim opinions on or cast judgement on community issues that have absolutely nothing to do with them.

That’s it. Because those are basic milestones of respect: not doing harmful things and not arrogantly and paternalistically assuming expertise in someone else’s life.  And I’ve found the most simple “teachable moments” for his is to either shun transgressors or make your anger known in most clear and adamant terms.

Would I like straight people to learn more than these basic lessons? Sure, but I don’t need them to learn more than that and, before they can learn more than that, they need to learn that basic lesson of respect. Part of which will be seeking out the information WE HAVE ALREADY PROVIDED rather than blundering around like a drunken hammer-thrower then demanding the people they’ve knocked to the floor explain why they’re bruised.

Is this harsh of me? Maybe it is (though I disagree). But for the sake of my own damn humanity it has to be like this. It is dehumanising and destructive to demand we TEACH straight people that we’re actually people deserving of respect. It is destructive to us to accept that our existence as equal beings is something that needs to be TAUGHT or as some kind of esoteric knowledge we can’t expect people to know!

We’re a community who loses a horrendous number of our fellows to suicide every year. We’re a community where self-worth is a battle ground. We’re a community that takes terrible losses because so many of us don’t think they deserve to live or deserve to be safe or deserve to be happy. We CANNOT concede this ground. We cannot accept a toxic meme that makes our humanity such a monumental lesson to learn. At no time, in no way can we allow abusing us to be looked at as understandable, in no way can we allow treating us as equals be considered some kind of advanced achievement. We’re better than that, we deserve better than that and all of us – LGBTQ as well as cis and straight – need to believe that.