Intersectionality and the Rainbow

(Originally published Oct 7, 2016, here.)

I’ve been thinking about the queer community and its allies and intersectionality.

If you Google intersectionality, you’ll get the following definition:

The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

In the queer community (and with its allies), there are layers of discrimination. There are also layers of bias and ignorance. We shouldn’t pretend there aren’t.

The rainbow so many of us proudly display doesn’t just mean cis gay or cis lesbian. It also means bi and pan and ace and aro and trans and genderqueer and people who don’t label themselves but aren’t straight or cis.

Even people in the queer community don’t always know all the components of our community, and there are people within the community that think some of the people in it don’t belong. That they’re not really queer, even thought they are.

That hurts those people in our queer community a lot. Guess what? It also makes them prickly and upset and mad. It’s the same feeling gay people get when het society tells them they shouldn’t exist, that they should just fix themselves because loving the opposite sex is “natural”.

Does that boil your blood? Well, that’s the feeling bi people get when they’re told by other people in the community (or by allies) that they should choose straight or gay. Or not label themselves. Or when ace people are told by members of the queer community that they’re not queer, that they just have a low sex drive, are broken, and should go get therapy or something. Or when genderqueer/fluid people get told they shouldn’t use pronouns other than he or she because it’s too haaaaaard to remember or deal with. Or any other countless times when someone in the queer community is a jagoff to another member of the community because of their gender or sexuality.

It hurts doubly when this happens, because these are the people (and allies) who should be supporting you and instead, they kick you in the teeth.

Now, it’s not always a kick in the face, sometimes it a needle in the side. Honestly, it’s easier to handle downright rudeness than it is to deal with the little things like “What’s the point of romance without sex?” or “I don’t want to read m/m with a FTM MC.” Or “Oh, jeez, why is LGBT turning into alphabet soup?”

I think much of this can be mitigated if people stopped and listened. If they went out and explored areas of the queer community they’re not familiar with. Go read up about asexuality, bi-erasure, aromantics, or the various types of trans (there’s no one trans narrative).

And for goodness sake, if you or a friend gets called out for saying something that hurts someone in the community, don’t be so goddamned defensive.

We all make mistakes. Being queer doesn’t mean you can’t be an ass to another queer person. It doesn’t magically make you immune from saying dumb things. It doesn’t erase all your biases. Being a good person or doing good things doesn’t mean you can’t say the wrong thing. All your intentions may be good, and yes, you can still cause hurt.

If you do screw up, apologize and try to do better. Period. Don’t rant that your feelings are hurt because you hurt someone else and they told you. Don’t use your queerness (or allyship) as a shield.

Because we all fuck up. And we’re all capable of causing hurt, even unintentionally.

I’ve hurt people entirely without meaning to. I hate myself when I do…not them. Because I understand what it’s like to be hurt.

Do you?