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Posted in personal
April 18, 2022

Collateral Damage: the verbal kind

Every so often, I feel like I have to step forward to talk about the concept of collateral damage. Because there are a lot of people who proudly describe themselves as progressives, leftists… or just not being conservatives – that seem to have zero concept of what collateral damages are.

I remember people I thought I knew happily tearing into Trump’s weight – even though there were a lot of valid things to criticize. Right. There. And when I mentioned that their fat friends were seeing this, they shrugged and said “it’s okay because I don’t like him.”

Or Lindsay Graham, people gleefully tearing into him and bringing up his rumored sexuality. And I remember people saying “it’s okay because he isn’t someone I like. He brought this on himself.”

Or every time you decide that the root of someone’s hate is obviously their mental health issues. As though you aren’t surrounded by people dealing with their own mental health issues who aren’t that way at all.

And now, it’s Tucker Carlson who has a video intro that’s all about masculinity (endorsing the toxic kind). And people are wondering if he’d just come out of the closet already. Which is actually pretty homophobic. And I’ve seen it from people I know, and from celebs who use their platform to just throw it around.

What kind of message your LGBTQ friends/family get when you say “he’s so gay” or “in the closet”

  1. It says that you think that you get to decide if someone is or isn’t gay. As if most of us didn’t hear that as a negative growing up. Any vaguely effeminate gesture had boys being deemed gay. Being a tomboy or slightly masculine had girls labeled as lesbians. Though usually with slurs.
  2. It says that you think it’s cool to out someone. No matter what your intent, it isn’t up to you when someone comes out. We live in an incredibly anti-LGBTQ society, and increasingly obviously so. All of us grew up with that around us, with the fear of not being accepted, of thinking there was something WRONG with us being reinforced by society. Even with a lot of support, we all struggled with this – so when you say that they should just “come out” – it tells us you haven’t listened to a word we said about what we went through.
  3. Oddly enough, it reinforces the far right’s anti-LGBTQ stance that there is something inherently shameful of being gay if you play the “they must be in the closet” game.
  4. And it flat out says that you don’t think people can be hateful just because they’re hateful. It actually minimizes their actions, because you’ve decided their intent is self-loathing, ignoring everyone else they hurt.
  5. And if you say it’s okay because you don’t like that person – you’re telling us that your support for the LGBTQ community is conditional. We only get your support if it’s someone you like.

I loathe Tucker Carlson. I loathe Lindsay Graham. But I will not make jokes about anything other than their long list of personal and political failures. Because the moment you start going after someone’s perceived sexuality, their weight, their mental health – all things that they might not change… you are as much of a problem as they are.

The hate that they inflict is very real. Jokes or excuses minimize it.

And if you can joke or minimize it, it’s usually because you think the damage it causes isn’t that big of a problem – because it doesn’t affect you.

(I also refuse to out someone just because they’re unlikeable. It doesn’t matter if they wouldn’t afford me the same compassion – if we out people, we’re sending the message that the only people who get rights/defended are those who are deemed palatable. And it’s gotta be all of us.)

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