I’m tired of the narrative in which someone is born different- drastically different- from the people in their society, and get...
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One of the most common things that comes to light when we’re talking to people with the ability to leave any kind of abusive relationship, but who are choosing not to leave is the sense that person has or expresses that, for whatever reason, they deserve abuse. If and when someone in that spot finally does leave or start taking steps to leave, it is almost always only once they finally get they do NOT deserve abuse. Thinking we deserve it is probably the very biggest thing that keeps us stuck in abuse.
We rarely will tell anyone that they are absolutely right or wrong about anything that isn’t strictly factual, but this is one of those things where we can, with certainty, every single time: if you think you deserve abuse, or aren’t sure if you deserve interactions and relationships that are safe for everyone involved, you are wrong. Utterly, completely, totally wrong. You just couldn’t get it more wrong than this if you tried.
No one — no one — deserves to be abused. Everyone deserves safe relationships and interactions. Everyone is worthy of kindness.
That includes you.
I have a weird identity problem that nobody I know seems to share. I have lots of LGBTQ friends, and it seems like lately it’s a bad thing to be straight. I identify as mostly hetero, at least for now, but my friend group almost looks down on straight relationships, the way that many bigoted communities view LGBTQ people. I sometimes feel embarrassed about my orientation around my closest friends! I have no idea what to do. I don’t think that the fact that I’m straight detracts from how weird and wrong all this is. Perhaps I require a different perspective? Please help!
Sam W replies:
To start off with, I can assure you that you’re not the first person to be in this situation. So you don’t have to feel as though you’re the only straight person traveling in queer circles who’s ever felt uncomfortable with the way straightness is discussed. And believe me when I say the advice I’m about to give you is very much colored by my own experiences (I mean, all advice is to some extent, but let’s just say your question rang a lot of bells for me).
As a quick aside, I’m going to use queer as my go-to term here. I find it encapsulates the widest number of identities, especially in terms of sexual orientation, which is what you seem to be referring to (an obvious caveat is that not every LGBTQA person identifies as queer). You don’t mention gender identity specifically in your question (and I know some trans folks don’t associate with the term “queer”) but what I’m about to say applies regardless of which specific, marginalized sexual orientation or gender identity your friends identify with.
Now, you don’t go into specifics of what exactly your friends are doing, so I’m going to offer up some different scenarios (some of which are, given the patterns that exist in our current world, more likely than others). Are your friends harassing and picking on straight students because of their orientation? Are they writing mean things on their lockers or trashing their stuff? Do they shout rude things at straight couples holding hands, or ask invasive questions about the sex lives of their straight acquaintances? If so then yes, they are doing the same things that straight students do to queer students, and you should intervene and try to get them to stop. If talking to them directly about their behavior doesn’t work, I would involve a teacher or other adult at the school.
But, if I had to make a guess, your friends are probably not behaving that way. If they’re anything like the vast majority of queer folks, they’re mostly making jokes and comments about straight people and how much they’re annoyed by them/wish they would stop doing x thing/ wish they would all go away.
Essentially, they’re venting. And the reason they’re doing so near you is that you’re their friend (or you’re all hanging out in a safe space together). They’re using this feeling of safety as a chance to say all the things that politeness and/or a desire to avoid a nasty conflict, keep them from saying in the moment where they first think them. And if this is what’s happening, and you spend the majority of you time with these friends, then that may indeed give you the sense that it’s “bad to be straight.”
But here’s the thing: when your friends talk about how annoyed they are by straight people, or how much they hate them, those emotions have less to do with the identity of straightness and more to do with how they are/have been treated by straight folks. I doubt they think straight people are inherently sinful, or unnatural, or faking their identity for attention or to cause trouble (all of which, BTW, are things people assume about those with queer identities).
Instead, “straight people” is essentially shorthand for the nasty behaviors that your friends have been on the receiving end of. To be sure, there can be unpleasantness and bigotry directed from one part of the queer community to another, but the majority of nastiness that queer folks (your friends included) face comes from straight people. So, when they say things like “I hate straight people,” they’re expressing their anger, frustration, and exhaustion with the stuff they face everyday, be those micro-aggressions like looks or comments from people, or bigger aggressions like ostracization or violence at the hands of their family or their peers.
But it’s a hell of a lot simpler(and for some people more cathartic) to say, “I hate straight people.”
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