Okay. I’ve seen a lot of bitching lately about how it’s not okay to tell “oppressed people” they can’t say things like “I hate cishets” and that anybody saying “you shouldn’t say things like that!” is obviously part of the oppressive group.
So let me tell you a thing, Tumblr.
My name is Nina. I’m a 25-year-old queer woman with disabilities both physical (a twisted leg, back problems dating to age sixteen, hearing loss) and mental (autism, ADHD, anxiety). We clear on this? Okay, here we go:
In my life, I have attended more vigils for queer kids—mostly boys—who killed themselves rather than be queer than I have weddings, celebratory showers, graduations, and non-queer-related funerals combined. At several of them I was the vigil soloist—the person whose entire job is to sing all of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” without choking so badly on your own tears that you can’t finish. I have not always succeeded in that job.
I have been beaten with a two-by-four because I held hands with a girl while crossing the street (the irony: she was straight, but small and afraid of being hit in traffic, so she asked to hold my hand. We were nothing but friends).
I have been spit on by Shirley Phelps-Roper at an equality march. I’ve had my face spit on by Shirley Phelps-Roper at an equality march, while her little grandson looked on.
I’ve donated about $500 in the last seven years (that’s a big chunk of change for my pay grade) to HRC, GLAAD, PFLAG, Identity (the alphabet soup group on my campus), Covenant House, Americans for Equality, Truth Wins Out, and Friends In Deed—all queer-related groups.
I’ve been fired for a job for my sexual orientation.
I’ve seen someone get stabbed for being gay.
I’ve opened a locker to find KILL YOURSELF FAGGOT BITCH spray-painted inside—and then, because I couldn’t afford the fee for it to be repainted, sat there sobbing for several hours after school scrubbing it out.
I’ve tried to take the suggestion of that anonymous graffiti artist.
I’ve sat on panels in Ethics and Philosophy classes and described what it’s like to come out, be discriminated against, see my rights be used as political fodder.
I was part of my college’s inaugural Committee For GLBTQIA Diversity (at a time when the I and the A were rarely included, and I fought like hell to get them included in the official name). During my time on the Committee I got two resolutions passed (a change to our Res Life forms that allows students to state that they need/have GLBTQIA-friendly housing; unisex bathrooms in all classroom buildings, with retrofitting in the dorms within three years to include unisex bathrooms) and co-authored three more (a GLBT scholarship; a GLBT Resource Room on campus; a Safe Space program).
I have been an activist—marching the marches, donating the money, speaking out for those less privileged than me in the queer community-for seven years. Some of you were probably still eating paste when I first yelled the call-and-response “What do we want? EQUAL RIGHTS! When do we want it? NOW!”
So that’s my cred. And with that cred, I say:
It is not fucking okay to tell people to kill themselves because they belong to a more privileged group than you.
It is not fucking okay to tell people you hate them because they belong to a more privileged group than you.
It’s your much-maligned “cishets” who have passed every single piece of legislation to protect and expand GLBTQIA rights.
It’s cishets who form a huge chunk of It Gets Better submissions, offering support, a friendly ear, parental advice if you can’t come out to your own parents.
It’s cishets who gave me a bottle of water at the National Equality March when mine ran out, a white man and a black woman. They were holding a sign that said “STAY STRONG 40 years ago, our marriage was illegal too WE STAND WITH YOU”.
The vast majority of queer symbols and community slang? Created by cishets. Every time you proudly don a pink triangle you’re putting on something reclaimed from fucking Hitler.
Depending on your study, GL comprise 2-10% of the population (most researchers agree Kinsey’s 10% is high); Bs are unknown; TIs, 1% or less. So at best we’re looking at maybe 15% of the population we can count on to demand rights for homeless gay youth; write hate crimes legislation; get ENDA moving again.
It takes 60% to pass a vote in the Senate.
When you go around bullying—that’s right, bullying—people who are straight and/or cisgendered, you are hurting the movement. Don’t think it’s bullying? Replace the word “cishet” with “gay” next time you think about posting one of those comments and then think about what you’d call it.
When you actually walk the walk—get off your goddamned Tumblr and write a letter to City Hall, or march in a march, or donate your Starbucks money—you can call yourself an activist (“social justice warrior” is widely derided, because of the ridiculous logic behind “let’s call them names and say we hate them and that’ll make things better!”). Guess who you’ll be in company with?
Barack Obama. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Coretta Scott King. Pope Francis (who isn’t as “radical” as we’d like, but small steps, we long ago agreed, are better than steps backward, like Pope Sith). Just to name four. And guess what, they’re all straight and cisgendered. And they all want to help you.
This is my official notice: post that shit on my dash, and you get unfollowed.
I’m queer, and hating on people who aren’t queer instead of trying to change their behavior is NOT OKAY.