Tolerance is NOT Acceptance, Yes You Are Still Homo/Transphobic
Posted by Lauren Senwo
November 19, 2020
I had a discussion with a family member of mine about a week ago, where we discussed queer identities and the journey towards acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals in our global society. We went back and forth for what seemed like hours when, in reality, it was only about 20 minutes. At first, the conversation was fine, and we seemed to be on the same page for most of it. However, it wasn’t until they repeated a sentence I’ve heard way too many times in my 21 years of life, a sentence that infuriates me to my core: “I don’t have to support the LGBTQ+ community in order to accept them.” From there, the conversation went downhill, and as our voices continued to increase in volume, I decided to hang up the phone in place of just saying “enough.” Now, I sit here at my laptop using these words to better express my thoughts in hopes that you all read and possibly affirm my annoyance or just add to it.
Although we have made plenty of milestones with validating and acknowledging queer and trans identities, I still fear that some of this progress is being hindered due to this half-assed form of “acceptance” that many still live by. My experience with understanding queerness and coming to terms with my own involved a lot of unlearning what was imprinted into my subconscious. This includes the belief that someone’s identity is something one can agree to disagree on or that being queer is a lifestyle rather than what someone is; that one just chose to walk a path of constant scrutiny and discernment from others. It’s crucial to recognize that there is no choice in being queer, there is no choice in being trans, there is no choice in being oppressed and being put at risk of violence each and every day. We cannot continue to support narratives that normalize the idea that being queer is abnormal and gives cishet people the power to place judgment as if they are inherently right and those of us who don’t align with them are mistaken and destined to an eternity in hell. The sentiment, “I just don’t agree with their lifestyle,” is really just another way of justifying one’s own homo/transphobia as well as separate themselves from those who are throwing the actual stones. I understand many may believe that there is a difference between hating a group of people versus just not “agreeing” with their “choices” however, those lines become very blurred and does nothing to absolve the discrimination and brutality directed towards LGBTQ+ individuals. It doesn’t matter how politely you express your grievances, nor does it matter whether you have queer and trans friends. You are still pushing forth an idea that disrupts the daily lives of queer and trans folk as well as aid in our oppression. Your ability to “disagree” with our selfdom is what enables Omar Mateen, Devon Kareem Robinson, David Malcolm Strickland, as well as the many others that bestow violence onto us. It is what forces us to have to hide in the shadows and suppress our queerness for the comfort of others as well as our survival. For too long, many have allowed themselves to dwell in the convenience that comes with being neutral, but as we already know, from the wise words of Desmond Tutu, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Being neutral is not an option. You must be willing to fight alongside members of the LGBTQ+ community and dismantle this form of oppression rooted in white supremacy.
I know that change takes time, but to be completely honest – I’m tired of waiting-. How much time do you need? A week? A year? A decade? And as we wait for that perfect moment where the acceptance we have been begging for is finally given, how many more lives must be sacrificed? These beliefs don’t come from birth. They are not attached to us when we came out of the womb; they were taught and perpetrated throughout society, and if one is able to learn these things, then we can also unlearn them. It’s not a matter as to whether you agree or disagree; it whether you’re willing to shut up, listen, and, most importantly, understand and act on it.
Photo Credits: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
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