Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My First Time

When you think of first times your mind often turns to virginity. In truth, life is riddled with first times. First kiss. First bike ride. First fight. First period. First wedding. First time some random jerk insults you on the internet. 

I've been doing this whole intersnacking thing for a long time. Between my blog, vlog, Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram, I've been around the virtual block, just a common hussy, really. Naturally, I understand people are going to disagree with me. Hell, some will even downright hate me. And that's fine. To this day, I've been called every name under the sun from a bitch to fat, ugly and a terrible writer. People have even ccriticized my skin and hair for being greasy. Whatever. Ain't no thang. 

Name calling has always rolled right off me. I've never cared. I'm more likely to be bothered by one of my friends being insulted than myself. The truth is, I have three brothers and they trolled me far worse than anyone I've met on the world wide web. They were ruthless. 

So, today was a bit of a weird one because I actually got offended. Someone said something to me that insulted me. Crazy, right? Trust me, I was just as taken aback as the next person. So, what was it? What could have possibly been said to make me feel horrified and wounded at the same time?

Well, for the first time in my life, I was called homophobic.

And I was sickened because it's a word I don't want to have any association with.

The situation was only made worse by the fact it came completely out of left field, had nothing to do with the conversation at hand, and was obviously said without any proof to back it up. Taking into consideration those points, I probably shouldn't have been bothered. But I was. 

Apparently people can think whatever they want of me, as long as it doesn't contradict my very liberal views. Call me funny. cute, ugly, fat, strange, smart, dumb, bitchy, slutty ... whatever, but homophobic? Hell no! It gutted me. Until a text from a friend explained how ridiculous it was - he said it was like someone saying the sky is purple. Perspective: sometimes best delivered by someone else, especially if you're about to light the internet on fire.

Now, I'm not going to tell you why I'm not homophobic because that's pointless. It's so clearly not the way I think that it doesn't even deserve my well-formed rebuttal and anyone who has brushed shoulders with me knows I'm all about the love.  So, I won't waste my precious breath defending myself. What I do want to touch on is how dangerous it is to casually accuse someone of homophobia (or racism, sexism, or any form of bigotry), asides from the obvious of not knowing the person or understanding the relationships they cultivate and hold dear.

Homophobic accusations aren't something that should be made as flippant remarks, or retaliatory retorts when you feel cornered. It's too serious to be a casual insult, too harsh to be thrown about without thought. Lobbing it at unsuspecting people who in fact aren't homophobic can be detrimental to the cause. It's like pointing a finger at someone and calling them an enemy, when they are actually a staunch supporter. Talk about drawing away from the importance of your fight.

It's a show stopper, though, isn't it? When you toss it on the table, it makes people uncomfortable and the person it's directed at might back peddle or tuck tail and run. Hopefully, right? Because it's taboo for people to question the motivation of the accuser, isn't it? To be called homophobic only to inquire over the reasoning behind it is basically setting yourself up for a lynch mob. The problem with treating bigotry like a punchline to a joke is that it desensitizes the public and turns it into something people just shrug their shoulders over, not something they get riled up about. It's like calling wolf, you can only do it so many times before people don't care anymore.

And that's why it is dangerous to accuse without evidence. It stops the important conversations peoole are having about equality and civil rights, breaking down the debate and momentum. In the end hot headedness and ignorance is damaging, no matter what side it is coming from.

In conclusion, call me names if you must, but be aware it might not garner the results you hoped for. Be prepared for any knee jerk reaction to deliver a blow to the cause you're passionate about. Speak wisely. Choose words carefully. And most importantly, don't be an ignoramus.

No comments: