A couple weeks ago, I went on a bit of a tear about unicorns. Over the course of a few hours, I barraged my tens of Twitter and Facebook followers with a series of blurbs pertaining to unicorns. Blurbs that, in retrospect, could be construed as being derogatory to the mono-hornéd species.
This concerned me not a whit, until suddenly I thought, "Armigarsh! What if I'm wrong? What if unicorns do exist, and I've been maligning a True and Noble Animal for nothing more than a laugh and a lark?"
Unacceptable, of course. And apologies... of course.
I have nothing whatsoever against unicorns.
- - -
Did you know that until more recently than I want to admit in certain circles, I believed that people chose their sexual orientation? Or that even if they didn't, anyone not oriented according to the statistical average was only that way because some perverted adult had wonkified them in that direction when their sexual identity was being formulated? Or that because of this belief, I also thought that the idea of gay people getting married to each other was weird. Yes, weird.
This was the normal thing to believe in the culture of my youth, and post-youth. Most people I knew believed it, and because I am human (and therefore like to be part of the statistical average), I did too.
I did not, however, hate gay people. Nor did I have a pathological fear of them -- a "phobia," if you will. I don't think I ever once used the terms "gay," "fag," or "faggot" in a derogatory way, and I found it distasteful when others did.
Nor was I repulsed on the occasions when gay men made it clear to me that they found me attractive in an I-wanna-be-more-than-friends kind of way. Although I am pretty much zero percent sexually drawn to the male of the human species (or any species, for that matter), I actually found it sort of flattering. I hadn't done anything to earn those looks of mine (such as they were), but if they liked the way I looked... perhaps the women of the world might, too.
Perhaps I wasn't going to die a virgin, after all.
Nonetheless... I believed what I did, and even sometimes felt like I needed to share that opinion with others. I don't know if it was primarily an attempt to deflect attention from my own shame over things like masturbation and pornography and the like (There. I wrote the "m" word on this blog. Phew.), but I even wrote an article for my University's student paper in which I quoted the Standard Bible Verses and twirled my oh-so-righteous literary index finger through the air.
I've written elsewhere about why I now think differently about things. Things like whether a couple of consenting adults ought to be allowed to make the hope-prayer-dream-promise that will entitle them to the kinds of legal protections I would like, should I ever be idiot-stick enough to walk that rose-petal-strewn path again. So instead, I'll tell you what didn't change my mind.
My mind was not changed because one day I related an opinion to someone and he called me a homophobe. Or a bigot. Or a hate-speacher. Or an ignorant, right-wing nut-job.
Because no one was yelling at me, putting me in a box, or defining me by my opinions, I had enough brain-silence left over to LISTEN.
And when I listened, I heard other people's stories. It was stories that changed my heart and my mind. Not, in my case, the sitcom-stories that had been planted by the ooga-booga, evil-bad gay-agenders (insert sarcasm font, here), but rather real, human stories.
- - -
Here's another confession: I live in a shed in the woods.
I live in this shed writing stories of my own, so I don't get out much or make many new friends. But here's the thing I've noticed from the LGBT friends I have made: none of them are actually screamers. They're hurt, often, and yeah, they get angry about injustice... but they're not, in my purely anecdotal experience, the ones I see pointing fingers and name-calling. In fact, I've never once heard one of them equate people-who-believe-the-sorts-of-things-I-used-to-believe with willing members of the Third Reich (damnéd be its name).
Nope, nope, nope.
Those voices, in my experience (the loud ones), belong mostly to non-gays. In fact, I'll even express the bigoted opinion, gleaned entirely from my completely anecdotal and therefore not-to-be-trusted experience, that the gays among us are generally just a skoatch more likely to be humans of the gentler, kinder, more good-humored variety.
Perhaps I'm just paying too much attention to George Takei; but whatever the case, let me just say this:
STOP. Please. In fact... Pretty Please.
If you really want things to change, try being kind to the people you think are in the wrong. Name-calling and yelling (as any gay person can probably tell you) really do hurt. They do make things worse.
What's more, they tend to raise the suspicion that you don't really want a change at all -- that you're only harping on this because the cultural pendulum has shifted (hooray!) and you can now get away with being mean, yourself. You, too, can enjoy the grubby little pleasures that come with being Right and Superior and Contemptuous. Bully for you.
But it doesn't look good on you. At all. Trust me.
So go ahead, if you want, and boycott a movie because it's based on a book by a writer who somehow finagled the largely ornamental title of "producer" and holds ideas you think are awful (ideas which, I might add, are not in the book or movie). Or get a guy fired because he tweets something obnoxious that no decent, non-dirty-and-doesn't-deserve-to-be-gassed person would ever tweet.
Maybe it's worth it.
Maybe you'll be instrumental in financially ruining that movie or that person -- in helping to create a society where people with ideas that you find hurtful or repugnant quickly become pariahs and can't find work anywhere, ever, doing anything.
Maybe that'll be just the kind of world you want to live it.
Heck, maybe you're even a unicorn, and should boycott any movie I ever write.
That'll teach me.
- - -
*Note: I put a lot of time into giving you this ad-free reading experience. If this post means something to you, you are more than welcome to pay me back by linking the bejeebers out of it on your social medias. And/or better yet, you could go pick up a copy of my book, "IMMORTALITY (and other short stories)." Dankegratzithanks.
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