Excuse Me for Raining on Your “Life Sucks” Parade
I’m not talking about the “be your own person” people, or the folks who don’t like labels, or even those who are always telling us not to shoehorn them into our ideal. Their fanatics drive me crazy, but some of the points made by non-fanatics make sense and are grounded in reality.
No, it’s the “We’re not even remotely the same, so you can’t possibly know what I’m going through, and any attempt on your part to empathize is offensive” crowd that’s bumming me out, right now.
They’re in every age group, every race and every nationality. Every gender, class and group of people with similar sexuality persuasions has a few. And their battle cries are so similar, if you took out any reference to their particular group, you’d be sure they were all fighting for the same thing.
I suppose they are. I suppose they’re all fighting for their sublimely unique personality, hurdles and emotions to be recognized.
Their ability to carry and birth children, menstruation and gender discrimination are common explanations ciswomen give when they insist men can’t possibly know what it’s like to be a woman. Men talk about the decline in sex drive, pattern baldness, equal opportunity employment (which still requires businesses to hire a percentage of minorities regardless of qualification in some places), paying more for drinks, admission and/or services at many establishments, and being considered “potential rapists”, among other things. Black people say the color of their skin still holds them down, while white people complain about not being able to walk through a neighborhood where white people are the minority without being, at best, bullied (not saying either are right or wrong, just stating fact). Kinky folks are viewed as sexual deviants, and portrayed in the media as murderous psychos, and vanilla people are told they’re not cool at all because they like missionary sex with the lights off and “can’t possibly understand how much tighter and better the bond between master and slave (dominant and submissive, or whatever) is than the one between husband and wife.”
Today, I read yet another article perpetuating this blatant disregard for the concepts of equality, unity and mutual respect, which all of these groups claim to be working toward making reality. Another brick in the wall of discrimination holding all of these groups apart placed there by the very same people who yell at the top of their lungs, “Tear down these walls and treat us like human beings.” All the while, they’re trying to convince everyone around them they’ve got it so much worse than anyone else, and we’re all assholes for trying to let them know they’re not alone and we care.
The post I read today was about how straight people can’t possibly understand or empathize with the problems LGBT folks face. The author went on to say that any attempt made by straight people to empathize with LGBT issues is offensive. And I just clicked away. There’s no point debating the topic with people who feel that way. They’re a special snowflake, and nobody else can possibly “get it,” and anyone who tries is minimizing their plight and invalidating their feelings.
But … I mean … Really?
From what I gather from the post, the situation involves two gay men who are in a romantic relationship, and their parents who are opposed to homosexuality. The author is one of the men in the couple, and he says that no matter what, straight people will never understand what it’s like to have parents who hate your lover simply because you and they are the same gender. The author didn’t go into much detail beyond opining on the possible relationship his parents would have with his lover (and he with his lover’s parents) if their aversion to same-sex relationships wasn’t in play.
Whether or not his parents would be friendly with his lover if he were a woman, or they weren’t gay, I couldn’t tell you. And I am not, in any way, trying to minimize their pain. But unless this sad situation conjured up never-before-felt emotions out of thin air, I’m going to have to say anyone who’s felt the full range of what our emotions can do can empathize with what they’re feeling, no matter what letter begins their sexuality.
When my parents made it clear they hated my ex, I felt betrayed. I loved him, and it’s my life, and being my parents, they should (in my teenage mind) let me make my own decisions and support everything I do, even when they disagree. I was hurt that they didn’t believe in our love like I did, or trust me to make my own decisions and face the consequences when they got me into trouble.
When my parents refused to allow themselves to get close to M and give him a chance because of my track record, I was furious that they wouldn’t believe I got it right this time, and devastated that they couldn’t see the man I’ve come to know and love. I couldn’t fathom what their worries were, and I hoped desperately for them to see the error of their ways. And that’s just to start!
Different situations, same basic emotions. Here I thought that’s what we’ve been trying to tell everyone all along. We’re all human. We all laugh, love, hope, try, hurt, need, fear, cry… I’m sorry it offends you that we all share the same emotions. I think it’s part of what will eventually bring us all together.
I’ll probably never know what it’s like to have parents who so vehemently hate my sexuality (I’m bisexual, by the way). Not because they approve or even accept it, but because at some point, they realized that telling me they didn’t like something made me want to try/do/have it more. But that doesn’t change my ability to understand the emotions the people involved in the aforementioned situation are feeling, and that’s what it means to empathize.