We’re Here, We’re Queer, and No One Cares: Why LGBT Visibility Still Matters

UPDATE: This post is moderately angry, Gentle Reader, and I think justifiably so – but you may disagree. Please try to keep comments and criticism civil.

Pride

Over the last week, articles, interviews, and sound bites having been flying fast, loudly wondering why anyone should care when a celebrity comes out of the closet.  Coming out is over, right? I mean, marriage equality across the country is a matter of time, QUILTBAG people are everywhere, and everyone’s used to it. Sure, there are little pockets of resistance here and there, but in America, we’ve mostly  moved on – it’s the twenty-first century, after all! Get over it!

The first openly gay NFL hopeful risking his career isn’t news? If you think the players and coaches are shrugging over this, you haven’t been paying attention. You don’t see how it matters that an actress publicly admits to what amounts to an open secret? There’s hardly any risk in Liberal Hollywood – why does it matter? They’re the same as everyone else; it’s not news.

I will not get over it, and I will not go away. I am not the same as you, and I won’t pretend to be. This angry queer  will not be shoved into a closet of comfortable conformity again.  Do you know what all this “same” crap says to me? “I don’t mind if you’re gay, so long as you don’t act like it.” I spent enough time not  acting like it when I shoved myself back into the closet to work construction, and it’s bullshit. I’ll take equality, but I do not need to behave the way you do to deserve it. You do not have to be the same to be equal. That’s just basic math.

At the risk of alienating any allies reading this, I don’t want tolerance, I want acceptance, everywhere, not just the ghettos and gayborhoods. I don’t have to flaunt my queerness, but damn it, if I want to I should be able to. The more Mom and Pop Ohio have queer faces shoved in theirs, the more used to it they’ll get; the more used to it they get, the less likely they’ll be to spit on their son, their cousin, their neighbor, a stranger. These things haven’t stopped being true, just because there’s a celebrity coming-out story every week. It hasn’t stopped changing the country, just because it’s not the most exciting headline. It’s still essential work. As much as it might feel passé in this day and age, the fight isn’t over. Until the very act of being visibly queer isn’t an act of defiance in itself, until a simple scarf or hairstyle isn’t subversive, there will be a need for LGBT visibility – everywhere, all the time, not just during Pride.

Each of these coming out stories is a triumph, impossible just ten years ago, but I’d argue that there aren’t enough of them, that they don’t go far enough. Almost all out celebrities toe a heteronormative line – with broad strokes of equality and victory, the QUILTBAG community has been whitewashed, except during Pride. It gets better? For whom, precisely? For those of us neatly paired off, bow tie to bow tie and pearl to pearl? If we don’t fit that neat little pattern planned by the Mattachine society all those years ago, are we still accepted, still safe? Don’t be naïve.

Alright, I’ll admit, it is better than it used to be, but it’s important that celebrities keep coming out, especially in new spaces, new venues traditionally denied to us, to ensure that it keeps getting better. Even if you’re femme or confused or still trying to figure out your identity or not neatly defined – but you have to work to make it better; it doesn’t magically get that way on its own. We need to be seen having careers, living all sorts of varied lives, to exist at all outside of our safely queer enclaves.  Seeing yourself represented in the world around you is essential to accepting yourself, to coming to terms with the fact that you’re not just like everyone else, that you never will be, and that you will have to cope with that for the rest of your life. Seeing that you’re not alone, when you feel like a unique specimen – the only freak of nature in a hundred miles – it continues to be important, internet communities aside.  We still need to come out of the closets and into the streets, and we always will, even if we’re straight-acting or can pass – not everyone can, and we have to stand up for each other, because despite the strides we’ve made, there’s an overwhelming ocean left out there that doesn’t draw those subtle distinctions.

There will be a need to be out, to be in public and enraged, as long as an assumption of heterosexuality, of being cisgender is the norm. As long as those are the default expectations, there will be a need for celebrities to come out; there will be a need for individuals to come out, to be seen, unashamed. Even in that far-off distant day, we should have the option to be highly visible, to be represented on the world stage. We’re not going away, and we’re not shutting up.

In a way, I’m glad of this dismissive attitude that seems so widespread. It’s meant to show that the LGBT community has arrived, that we’re fully integrated. It’s meant to show that we no longer have anything to fear, or worry about, or that any separate concerns we might have about our tenuous position in society are relevant. After all, we’re free to marry in a rapidly increasing number of states, and our straight allies generously assert that we’re the same as them. What more could we ask for? The right to continue to be seen and heard seems like a good place to start.

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About Ty DeLyte

Madame DeLyte has suffered a grave disappointment - YET AGAIN - and still believes that freedom, beauty, and truth are what's valuable, rather than vulgar cash. He'd add love to that list - but, well, what can he say about love?
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11 Responses to We’re Here, We’re Queer, and No One Cares: Why LGBT Visibility Still Matters

  1. ekgo says:

    I read this out of order. Sorry.
    I was surprised to see this up already! Are you going to tabulate the responses you got and make some charts and show percentages and stuff? Later, I mean? I know that takes a lot of time.

    • I am. This is like draft three and Natalie advised me to take a few days off, and she is right. On the other hand, a few others enjoyed it as it sits, so up it goes for the nonce. Answers are still coming in, as well, so it’s not like it’s a definite answer, or anything even halfway professional, anyway.

      Speaking of out of order, where did you leave off, anyway? I think you are living somewhere in last June, or something, if I remember right.

      • ekgo says:

        Yeah, I think this is a good start. I mean, it’s obvious you’ve found a question that bothers you and you are rousing yourself to find answers but right now, you’re just being angry about it. That doesn’t make it any less of a good start, though. I think this will grow into something really fascinating and maybe even eye-opening and instrumental for people who are trying to answer the same question!

        Hmm. I think I left off…yes, last summer sometime. I have it marked on my tablet. And one day, I will read blogs again. Today is not that day, though, Just writing my own little posts is draining; coming up with things to say on other people’s blogs, things that don’t make me sound like an alien troll monster – that shit’s hard.

        • I had defanged this, but it was the most milquetoast thing you’ve ever endured – insipid at best, it wasn’t worth reading. People in the queer community really like the angry version better. While I’m nervous about alienating straight allies, I have an entire separate post about that, and that isn’t the thrust of this one. Eh. It’ll work out, or it won’t.

          I know precisely what you mean about being an alien troll monster. I currently feel a bit that way myself, hardly trusting myself to speak at all. Awfully dour, which is hardly a productive state of mind. All my love to you and Gabe, though, darling. ❤

          • ekgo says:

            I’m not sure what would be alienating to straight allies. I mean, it’s not like you said “All you straight people are condescending assholes and you don’t know what we’re going through and I plan to stab each and every one of you IN YOUR EYES!” Also, it’s not just straight people who are asking, “Why should I care if football players are gay?” though, admittedly, I suspect when not-straight people ask that, it’s more along the lines of, “Why do you famous people keep telling me about your personal lives? I don’t want to know what you had for breakfast, I don’t need your birth date, and I could not care less about your childrens’ names.” Hmm. I might need to bring this up next time I am hanging with my boyfriends.

  2. selkielady says:

    Love this post!!! ❤ You're amazing. My other QUILTBAG friends are amazing. And I want to kiss EVERYONE because I love everyone. In a friendly way. Not with tongue. I need more teachings on things though. I once pulled an oopsie I didn't know was an oopsie.

  3. Lisa says:

    I didn’t really see anything that would alienate straight allies. You didn’t say anything negative about allies in general or specific. You did lay out your point of view fairly clearly and without nearly as much anger as I was expecting for a third version. A lot of people in the QUILTBAG and their allies agree with you. As some point Coming Out will not be a big deal but until that happens Coming Out is a very bid deal indeed.

  4. Christy Bristow says:

    One of the places I see people of various genders treated as normal human beings as they go about their lives is HGTV (the Home & Garden channel). I see couples raising families and creating homes and have careers and being included in communities. I think this is more helpful than celebrities celebrating their specialness publicly. It’s kind of a carnival. And carnivals are good, but most of us don’t live there. It’s where we go to get away from our lives, not to make changes in the way we approach life. But the celebrities talking about their lives so create the drip drip drip sound from the faucet of social change that does wear down assumptions. And you get a total pass from me on the anger. You have every right to be angry.

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