Fuck Being an Ally, I’m Going Axis

Posted: 27 November, 2012 in Rants
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Nano Count: 8061

Shuffle Says: “Substitute” Frank Turner Take To the Road (Live at Shepherd’s)

Dan Savage made an announcement recently on his podcast two weeks ago that actually made me a little uncomfortable. He spent about 12 minutes at the top of his show thanking all the straight people who helped/are helping to make marriage equality more and more of a reality.

I guess I got all shifty footed because being a fairly straight male soaked in Catholic guilt, I didn’t really feel like I/we deserved much praise.

Um.. Yeah, I guess I helped out; if by helped out you mean not voting for the non-homophobic candidate. There was no vote on my ballot for marriage reform (which I still find strange considering I now vote in Illinois which I’ve always considered dangerously deep in Yankee territory).

I mentioned it to a friend and he told me something even stranger. He said that on national coming out day (don’t get me started on these so-called national days, that’s another soapbox and shall be stood on at another time) people were coming out as “Allies”. I found the notion a bit preposterous for several reasons. First, There is something off about declaring yourself to be an ally or an advocate. I mean, it’s not like there is a formal body that gets to declare who and who is not worthy of that title, so it’s not like you’re stealing that authority from anyone else, but on what grounds do you take this title? Not being a hater? For considering your fellow non-genderspecific man to be on equal footing as you despite their sexuality? I’m sorry, but no. No dice, no cookie, not cute ally badge.

Why? because I think simply not being a bigot is a pretty low bar to clear. I think what said actions earn you in my book is “So far, not a douchebag”.  OK, look,  I’m glad you’re now finally speaking openly about these things, but you’re a little fuckin late to the party. Not to mention the fact that what you’re saying is that up until this point you’ve been participating in the perpetuation of hatred and negative stereotypes.

There are some people I would consider “Allies”. Personally I would use the term as  [insert cause here] advocate. I talk about them fairly frequently here on this blog: Molly Crabapple, Jiz Lee, Madison Young, Ellen DeGeneres, Maggie Mayhem, Dan Savage, Buck Angel, Sunny Megatron etc… I name these people because they have some kind of prominence in their respective fields, have garnered authority on the matter, speak frequently on these matters, and, most importantly, have dedicated a significant amount of their careers to raising awareness about the issues they believe in.

OK I’m gonna be that asshole for a second. One of my closest friends is trans. When I was in university I became a part of a fraternity whose demographic was largely made up of “Queer” folk (I use that term to be as blanket/inclusive as possible). I end up in boystown (somewhere that’s never on a list of ‘things I want to do this evening’) on an irregular basis because a good chunk of my friends up here are gay. But I didn’t choose any of these people because I have any desire to be an ‘ally’. I didn’t seek them out. Said friend is my friend because one night at a bar they complimented me on my shoes. That conversation became a non-date which became perhaps the longest conversation of my life, which has since become one of the most important relationships in my life.  I pledged my fraternity because those guys were my friends and I liked drinking/dancing/studying/smoking/working/partying/going to shows/driving/hanging out with them and I’m one of the least likely people to pledge a fraternity, but fuck it all my friends were doing it so I’ll give it a shot. I’ve got gay friends here in the Chi because I work in theatre and that’s just how it is.

The whole thing reminded me of a rash of people I ran into back in the days when I still used OKCupid. I found multiple women who would list “gay men” as one the things they couldn’t live without. It really disgusted me. Like they considered them fashion accessories. I’m not sure I totally understand why they think this way, why they’d ghettoize an entire demographic to the confines to some Queer Eye stereotype (I’m sorry I don’t really have any better pop culture reference for this one). What really shocked me was that it wasn’t just one person. Time and time again many of the people I got matched up with, at some point in their profile, would state something along the lines of “I LOVE gay me. They’re so awesome and I want more of them in my life.” I wanted to reach through the screen to slap them and say “No. They’re really not.” I know more than my share of people who fall in the category of LGBTQ who are total fucktards. However, because I’m a rational, non-bigoted person I don’t apply my experience with a single individual to dictate my thoughts on an entire demographic.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not above making sweeping generalizations for the purposes of addressing important issues (i.e. one of the largest portions of homeless youth are LGBT people who were kicked out by their family, or Meth is a big problem in the gay club scene, etc…), but this ‘gay men/ally badge’ as a fashion accessory kind of thinking is an entrenchment. Sexual orientation and identity doesn’t affect anything other than who you like fucking and possibly how you present to the world. Everything that makes you worthwhile as a person is choice.

I come to my politics from  both an idealistic and logical perspective. I believe in “gay rights” because I think they are inextricable from our most fundamental civil liberties. Not because I’m an ally or an advocate or an activist. I think marriage equality is a constitutional imperative (to say nothing of a moral one, but that’s not the argument I choose to make).  I’d like to think that even if I was a far-right, religious,  homophobic bigot who thought all those horrible sodomites were going to burn for an eternity, I’d still argue that a citizen’s rights shall not be abridged by the government based on someone else’s religious tenet. It’s the same way I defend haters right to hate.

I don’t consider myself an ally. I don’t march in parades. I don’t shill for HRC. I don’t keep a string of photos of all my LGBTQ friends in my wallet to show off at parties. I will never claim the title of Ally. Why?

Because I’m going Axis, bitch.

The Axis of Awesome.

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