Oh Boy!! Here it goes.
I’m not sure why is has taken me quite so long to come to this conclusion. All the signs have been there, they have been for a while, but it took one conversation in particular for it to click.
As I was having a
conversation argument about gender equality I suggested that we (men, well-meaning or otherwise) would do best to ask women their thoughts because fundamentally our male voices needs to take back seats in conversations around feminism and gender equality, rightfully giving the floor to women. For the simple fact that I as a man have never experienced sexism, I’ve observed it, I’ve cussed people out over it, heard great people talk about it at length but I’ve never experienced it.
I find this to be the same for straight people, they’ve never experienced homophobia, it’s probable they’ve observed it, it’s possible that they have heard people talk about it, it is also possible (though judging from my life, highly doubtful) that they may have defended someone against it but they’ve never experienced homophobia.
So what does that mean for understanding a person that is part of a marginalised community and the shit they deal with. It means you’ve got to do the work, it means that for me to understand the severity of the shit women have to deal with on a daily basis as a result of sexism and gender inequality I have to do the work. I have to learn, I have to read, I have to listen and then do (those 2 are paramount) and by doing I become a better Ally and go some way to helping progress the cause.
It means that I’ve now got to a place where when women tell me about the micro-aggression that they face on a daily basis it is not my first thought to centre myself in that narrative or suggest them too sensitive, them possibly reading it the wrong way. I take on board that this is how they are being made to feel, this is what they are experiencing and the fact that they are not OK with it means that I as a man and we as a society need to do work towards changing that. The fact that they are not OK with it means that it is not OK.
What I have found is that when I’m telling stories about the way people treat me in the world it is often only taken that it’s a reaction to my blackness, but very little in my life is a reaction to my blackness alone. My blackness is constantly intersected with my queerness. So when I bemoan to a straight person (fam or friend, I don’t seek out random straighties) about the micro-aggression’s I face on the daily, often I will not get the response that I wanted, that I needed. When we as people of marginalised communities share our experiences it is so we can feel heard and understood, often what I in fact feel is that the people that I am talking to do not validify my oppression.
*whispers* Yes, even black people.
As a result of the community/environment that I, a lot of my friends, and my family are raised in, that being religious and or West Indian, they probably haven’t cussed people out over homophobia, heard people talk about it at length, but funnily enough would most definitely have observed it, in a completely normalised way. Whether it’s that week’s church sermon condemning the gays to the fiery pits of hell or any and every Soca/Bashment/Dancehall tune, homophobia is normalised within our community.
I would imagine that most people who share the identity that I have and where it intersects have that disheartening day when they finally realise that the people that they love and the people that are meant to love them are inherently homophobic. That the straight people in their life benefit from a system of privilege and oppression and they not only care to do nothing to dismantle it but in many a case look to further enforce it.
That heartbreaking moment when you sit and think to yourself…
If someone says faggot in my best friends presence do they defend my identity?
If someone talks about batty boy fi dead in convo with my siblings do they speak up on my behalf?
If someone uses the term gay as an insult in earshot do my cousins come to my defence?
Because like it or not that’s me they are talking about.
In my absence do the people that I love and care for dearly, respect and honour all of me before they claim to reciprocate that love.
I’m really tired of having conversations with people and being dismissed. I’m tired of having conversation with people needing to be convinced of my humanity. I’m exhausted when I have to have those conversations with people I love. And we’re not gonna even broach the topic of parents.
Many people have suffered and sacrificed for me to have the life I have, to have the freedom to live it the way I want. Whether you like it or not I intended to live it in the complete fullness of who I am and I would hope everyone else can be along for the ride. If not than that’s on you.
Side note: Whilst that all read quite peacefully or whatever (where i’m tryna be) but bring that shit to my doorstep and we will fight. Whether the people I love defend me in my absence I will never be truly sure but best believe if you talk that kind of crazy in my presence it’s AJ vs Klitschko (and ima be standing after the 11th round).
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