There is a strong anti-gay sentiment that builds on the notion that gays are OK now so should shut up about it. Someone will let you know that ‘No one cares where you put your bits’ and they will inevitably preface this statement with one about not being a homophobe – as if homophobia were a strictly self-diagnosed condition. Their need to preface at all points to some social success in that there is an awareness of homophobia as ‘bad’ – but the confidence with which people express homophobic views demonstrates a disconnect with the negative potential all our words and views can have when expressed publicly – and a belief that the word ‘homophobia’ has become a repressive tool that queer people and their allies use to try and diminish straight identity.
To counter this accusation of phobia, the technique is usually to create a straw man argument to deflect –
‘Homophobia isn’t what I’m about to say, homophobia is people being stoned to death. Surely you should be worried about that and not this microaggression I’m about to unleash. I’m a good person. I watch Orange is the New Black. I’m not killing gays’
This technique isn’t only used against the LGBT+ community from the outside – it is a common silencing tactic that queer people use on each other. The notion for example that we shouldn’t talk about the daily humiliations of Trans women being mislabelled as men, because we should be discussing the camps in Chechnya. That, since a gay child is less likely to be rejected by their family, we can’t discuss the trauma of repressed sexuality on children. That one gay person’s priorities should secede to another’s whose are more ‘pressing’.
How this argument pattern ever springs to existence is perplexing. By that logic we can’t discuss the Grenfell tower fires because of the bombings in World War 1. You shouldn’t complain when assaulted because somewhere in the universe a star has exploded. Gay people shouldn’t have pride, they should just be grateful they are aren’t dead.
It is a fallacy that overt homophobia existing negates our responsibility to challenge insidious examples of a culture being undermined.
The Gay Agenda Part 1: Brunch
There is a reason so many people feel so comfortable airing homophobic dialogue without it affecting their view of themselves as being innately ‘good’ – because they no longer feel like they are oppressing a minority. It’s been craftily fed into political and media discourse for some time and we have reached the age where it is bearing fruit – that queer people are over represented in public spaces and that this amounts to an oppression of heterosexual people’s opinions.
‘Why is 2% of the population represented in 50% of the media?!’ – Straight proverb
It’s impossible to say what percentage queer people make up of general society because self-diagnosis is rarely accurate and identity is complex. Estimates for various cities worldwide range from 2% to 15%. A popular general consensus is 5% to 10% of the population of the world. Self-identified queerness has gone down drastically in the west since before the Aids crisis but who can say what it’ll be in 50 years with the progressive movement of the youth. What we can measure more accurately is actual queer representations in office and in media. So some facts
- Roughly 7% of the UK’s MPs are queer (White, cisgendered. Don’t get carried away). That’s the highest percentage in the world. So of 196 countries the highest representation of LGB people in any government is 7%.
- There have been 5 openly LGB heads of state. 5 out of the modern histories of 196 countries.
- GLAAD found that for 2016-2017 4.8% of the characters expected to appear in primetime scripted broadcast TV would be LGBT+ (FYI a concerning number of these female characters were killed off to further the storyline of straight male characters).
- GLAAD’s 2016 data tells us that 17.5% of movies had some form of queer representation.
The data suggests Queer people are not over-represented. While the most promising of these, that 17.5% of films represented LGBT+ people, has been used in anti-gay dialogue to suggest that Queer people are in fact over-represented it really isn’t so clear cut. 17.5% of films recognised that a queer identity exists. The actual percentage of queer characters in compassion to the many dozens of characters per film would still put queer characters in the low single figure percentages. Added to that – this is simply recognition of existence and only 17.5% of mainstream films acknowledge that alternative sexualities exist. In comparison to the barrage of media reasserting heterosexual normality.
So why the strong visceral belief that queerness is dominating discourse? A large part of it is simply the quaintness of it. Queerness is by definition at odds with the social fabric. It sticks out. In a room full of white shirts, you notice the pink one. You’d be unlikely to approach the pink shirted person and demand they stop shoving it in your face. You might be tempted to if that pink shirted person demanded to be represented – because you’ve already noticed them and that should be validation enough. Right? Except simply being noticed was never the battle. Equality was.
You cannot divorce the homosexual experience from its history and its place in a fabric of social moral oppression. Progress is made and victories are won but with each comes a demand to assimilate into broader society – the trade-off being that you must give up your ‘victimhood’, as people like to frame it, for the benefits of equality. Never mind that half these feigned steps to equality are token acts to placate us, that for every step we take towards breaking old standards of oppression new ones spring up. A man takes your coat in the snow and gives you back your cigarettes – then watches you freeze while telling you it’s your weakness that kills you, because you both have cigarettes. People are oppressing LGBT+ people in the same sentences they claim that there is equality so there can be no problems – and a lot of those people doing the oppressing are young LGBT+ people themselves.
We are a younger generation that hasn’t won anything. We have rights but we didn’t fight for them. We didn’t struggle for them. We struggled a lot – but with things we’ve either repressed or convinced ourselves were down to our weakness and not some overarching social pressure. We are a generation of anti-victims. Proud of our ability to be perfect in spite of everything (on Instagram at least) and we are judgemental of those who are not 100% OK. Complaining is weak. Therapy is a Gym or nothing. Suicide is cowardly…at least when you’ve pushed your own feelings of shame so far down you’ve lost your empathy for those feeling hopeless. It’s so much easier to stand by in your great strength and watch rights being chipped away at when you didn’t fight for them. When you didn’t live the life that allows you to understand the gravity of an existence without those rights.
We have reached an impasse for the LGBT+ community. Queer people are oppressed but not allowed to talk about it. They are victims but not allowing each other to express victimhood. Every small victory of representation or equality is a tool used to demand we stop fighting for more.
There is no guaranteed solution to this. It is our reality now. How we try to challenge and change this discourse is up to us. Going forward it is worth learning from our history as we’ve come so far. Stand together. Do not let your own progress stand in the way of someone else’s. Have empathy. Be proud. Of our victories but also of acknowledging and living with our weaknesses. Never settle for less than your worth. Be vocal …and the next time someone tells you to stop ramming it down their throat, ram it twice as hard until they choke on it.