The casual intolerance of the 2000s

A few months ago, during a car conversation with a new friend, we got onto the topic of homosexuality and gender queerness. In the middle of a reasonable discourse between two progressively-minded people with educational backgrounds in sociological issues, he pulled out the classic, “You know, I have nothing against homosexuals—I have gay friends and everything—but I think I would be upset if I had a kid who turned out to be gay.” Classic. First of all, any sentence that begins with “I have nothing against certain (often oppressed) group of people, BUT…” is probably about to slip down a slope pretty fast. “I’m not racist, and I have nothing against black people, BUT, really racist statement XYZ.” It is also almost always accompanied and defended by giving examples of their personal connections with people of said group: “I’m not _________! I have __________ friends!”

This is the watered-down and relatively socially-accepted homophobia/racism/sexism/xenophobia/classism of our generation. It is no longer ok to admit that you hold such politically incorrect feelings in an outright and aggressive manner, but somehow it is accepted if you tone it down to a more passive personal “opinion”. You demonstrate that you “accept” that these people do exist and you may even go so far as to befriend them, but, as it was in the case of my friend, you can stop at allowing the “other” into you personal life or family. It’s along a similar path as “I’m fine with gay people, as long as they don’t come on to me.” Puh-lease. Give me a break. That smells of narcissism AND insecure heterosexuality. I’m not going to even open that can of worms.

My conversation partner and I were new friends at the time, so while I tried to probe into why he felt this way, I did refrain from losing my indignant shit all over him. He basically seemed concerned that he wouldn’t be able to relate to his hypothetical gay child’s experiences, and in some ways this is valid. He’d have the job of daily privilege checks: constant acknowledgment of his own hetero-normative entitlements (which hopefully don’t really exist anymore by the time he manages to pro-create.) Furthermore, if the primary and secondary school years are anything like they are now fifteen to twenty years down the line, I would be concerned for the welfare of my gay/gender queer child as well. Despite the vast progress that has been made since the 1970’s, in more isolated areas, these kids often have to blaze their own equality trails (with or without the support of their families), endowing them with responsibilities and tribulations that they should not have to wield and navigate as children/teens.

Nevertheless, this was not my friend’s primary concern. He was worried about relating to his hypothetical gay son in the romance/relationships department. Like, how could he possible advise him on dude-chick relations if his son was more mixed up with the dude-dude stuff? Totally foreign territory, man. Right. Because gay relationships are so radically different from heterosexual ones. I am not saying that they are identical, that would smell of an attempt to “normalize” gay relationships to a homophobic world by simply throwing a pair of white dress-clad plastic cis-women on the top of a wedding cake so as not to frighten the “straights” by changing anything else up (Just two women getting married! Don’t worry, they are both still being “given away” by their respective fathers! Same old straight wedding, just with a little copy and paste! ctrl + X “man” ctrl + V “woman”. Nothing to see here! Carry on!) Ahem, however, I feel like advice on loving and caring for your partner in a heterosexual relationship could probably carry over to a same-sex partnership. Believing otherwise maintains and reinforces the “otherness” of homosexuality, queerness and gay relationships.

Anyway, to sum up, I have just gotten sick of statements like these. Worst of all, of their being tolerated as “personal opinions” rather than the homophobic, racist, sexist bullshit that they are.

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