The Homoginizing of a Revolution

In the rare times I’m at social gatherings with a lot of straight people I often get an awkward sort of praise for the latest celebrity coming out story or the latest state passing of an equal marriage law. I’m never sure what it is they want me to say.

Call me jaded but all this new found “progressivism” is simply dominant culture patting itself on the back for how far they’ve come in their own acceptance of marginalized people. It’s about ignoring the past and labeling anyone who dares to bring up the facts of history as someone that’s just “negative” and making excuses for their shortcomings.

The truly disturbing part is how this color blind, gender blind, privilege blind way of thinking has seeped into activist movements that used to foster positive change. Access to the Internet should make ignorance that much harder to claim but somehow we’ve managed to keep ourselves isolated in self-serving tribes. Hierarchies within these groups are vehemently denied but so obviously exist. Feminists come to mind with able bodied, cis-gendered, white women that are so eager to get into comparing oppression and are dumbfounded when people of color and other marginalized groups accuse them of highjacking the movement.

To the dominant culture, the face of the queer rights movement looks a a lot like Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka, an attractive gay couple with a house on the hill and a baby on the way.  Again, it’s the existance of a hierarchy that allows the elite gays that have the resources to fund lobbyist groups to make sure that their invitro-born babies will get to flip through their parents’ wedding photo album and see how well they’ve assimilated into their new societal stature.

“One of us! One of us!”

I’m not arguing against equal marriage laws but it is distressing to me that this singular issue has consumed all others in our community. Sexual abuse, mental illness, substance abuse, homelessness, equal access to healthcare… Why are these things ignored when they disproportionally affect our community? Why are we so concerned with the dominant culture’s comfort level on these issues? We would rather stay in vitual bubbles while our so-called “voices” in power make decisions to benefit corporations and demonize those that aren’t able to speak out for themselves. The drug addicted street hustler with no other options is labeled as someone on the “fringes” and is swept under the rainbow rug. Poverty and mental illness does not sell burgers or vacation spots quite as well as weddings do.

But can you blame us for having this delusional albeit well-meaning way of thinking? Millenials grew up in a politically correct multicultural marketing firestorm. We were made to believe that the revolution was over and equality was a reality. TV made us think that every classroom in America had students of every race having adventures together, and let’s not forget the token wheelchair friend. We were taught that “we are all the same on the inside.”

A flying school bus is more probable than this class existing in America.

At the core this is the truth but we do not exist in a vaccuum. The self-serving, preaching to the choir brand of internet hashtag activism does little to expand our understanding of our fellow humans if we do not accept our collective history, no matter how much more comfortable it might be to ignore it. We are able to customize all the information we see, the sheer amount of media we have to choose from makes it so easy to inflate our own struggles. The world is massive and although it can seem daunting to sort through all the information we have access to we have to realize what a great advantage this generation has.

One response to “The Homoginizing of a Revolution

  1. I completely agree with this.
    It’s frustrating, to say the least, that the struggles that are less marketable and likely require more assistance are the ones that are receiving lesser attention. I’d always thought that it was because those are often things that still require a lot of work, both on a societal level as far as understanding goes but also because they aren’t things that are ‘cured’ by signing a slip of paper. Dealing with the mental health issues and with minorities populations means acknowledging that a structure of privilege exists. It means acknowledging the struggles of those who can’t just easily ‘do something about it’, who can’t just throw money at a problem. It means developing a sense of empathy for your fellow human being. Marriage is simple. It helps ‘outliers’ fit into a more homogenous structure by offering them a parallel to straight culture, thus perpetuating overall the complacent comfort of the majority group– ‘oh this person is like me after all,’ further cementing an egocentric world view in which the majority group is still viewed in their own mind as the ideal.

    Another issue often but certainly not always reared alongside the concept of mental illness is the idea of poverty, this is yet another instance of bias against those in poverty in which said poverty is viewed as a choice and not a collection of factors, including but not limited to: ingrained classism, racism, mental health issues, etc. Yes, like any group, I’m sure there are a minority of people who have chosen a particular lifestyle, but the vast majority of people who are impoverished (unlike privileged groups often believe) largely are not making the choice to be so ‘just because they’re lazy’.
    I think one of the overarching issues is the aforementioned lack of empathy. If all of these things are being seen as an individual fault or poor choices on an individual level it is going to be very difficult to convince anyone to help because ‘it has nothing to do with them’. But if the bias and stigma faced by being in a minority group is treated as what it is which is most often not something the individual signed up for, then I’d say the chance of having allies in that privileged group fighting against a broken system exists.

    Another factor that comes to mind would be the idea that people don’t seem like questioning themselves or their own status. People want to believe their good things came to them because of their own individual traits, instead of things like nepotism, taking advantage of the lack of privilege of others, or other third party things that would suggest that they are not 100% in control of their own lives (you know, that same idea of control that they’re holding as the reason that others are less successful than they are.)

    It’s a vicious cycle, but I honestly think if there is some way to get people to really see what it’s like to exist in that space, as those people in their daily lives, it would be a lot harder for them to simply brush off the idea that the suffering of others is a personal choice and isn’t relevant to themselves.

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