There is a growing awareness that whenever people say ‘I’m not racist but’ that we have exactly that, perhaps best captured in this cartoon by Natalie Nourigat. That probably goes for sexism, and other ‘ism’s or ‘ists’ or ‘phobias’ basically any fear of otherness. I’m not sure if anyone else has noticed but there is kind of a double layer of marginalisation in talking about homophobia.
I was reading through a piece on racism by Jeff Yang (where I initially saw the cartoon) and was intrigued by a statement he’d made:
“The common thread here is that we have reached a point in our culture where it is generally (but not universally) acknowledged that making disparaging remarks about people of other races, cultures, heritages or lifestyles is unacceptable.”
I get race, culture, heritage (just), but ‘lifestyle?’ At a guess I would say this refers to sexual orientation or possibly functionality because quite frankly we have yet to genuinely integrate our physical structures with those who’s bodies function in unique ways. So I’m a bit confused why we cant just say sexuality or sexual orientation or functionality. For now I’d like to stick to the assumption that what is referred to is sexual identity in some way. Saying ‘lifestyle’ whilst not directly disparaging is indirectly homophobic. When sexual orientation/sexuality/gender identity are lumped under ‘lifestyle’ it avoids the realities of discrimination and hate people experience for being who they are – not where they shop, what tea they drink or how they get to work – that is lifestyle.
Lets ditch the laziness with language that softens and avoids the uncomfortable truth that we have a people who do not identify themselves as heterosexual or male and female.
Bi for now.