I had a straight white girl moment a few weeks back. Apple released a “It Gets Better” video and being the dedicated lover of gays and aspiring queen fag hag that I am, I was thrilled to share the video on Facebook. Come to me, my little gays. Find solace in my bosom and solidarity in my ideals… or something.
But seriously. One of the greatest joys in my life is my gays. I was fortunate enough to be raised to believe that we were all the same and that there was no choice in the matter. You were born to love whomever– or whatever– your heart believed and there was never a question as to the validity of love between people of the same sex. To be truthful, I knew from a young age that I was destined to be a lady of the gays. I was so disappointed in high school that no one came out, mostly because I so wanted to have my My So Called Life moment and prove my allegiance and support of the homosexual community.
And then I moved to Georgia. I don’t know where they were hiding, but the gays were not dancing in the streets.
In addition to sharing the Apple video via all my social media outlets, I was quick to share it with my in-office gays.
Look at me! I’m in the tribe. I support you! Love me! I need you!
And then I got bitch slapped so hard by reality that my cheek swelled up and my eyes nearly crusted over. Mid-viewing, my coworker looked at me and shared a very profound, devastating perspective. I internalized it for weeks before deciding that it needs to be shared because changes need to be made. Straight white girls like me (and our straight white husbands) need to understand that getting behind a social movement isn’t enough. If we want to support the gays– or any minority– we need to get behind a political cause. We’re embracing viral videos and ignoring the glaring social injustice. I love the glitter and dancing, but I’m not engaged in the dark underbelly that is the reality of being different.
You see, it doesn’t get better.
I suppose it’s more accurate to say that it gets easier. That eventually you leave high school and the bullies become car mechanics and you move away in search of a community that embraces you. You find a job that accepts you, or you “tone it down” to be more digestible to your fellow straight coworkers. You become comfortable with being “the gay friend” or “the gay boss” and your skin thickens. You succumb to stereotypes because they give you peace and a sense of self and you acknowledge that people are accepting you, something no straight person knows. You live with caveats like “for a gay guy” and ” even though” and “despite the fact” and you find a friend who makes you feel good about your differences while simultaneously putting you in the same box you’ve worked your whole life to fight out of.
You skin will get thicker. Instead of crying when someone calls you a fag, you’ll find a bitter place or an angry place. You’ll retreat to those who understand you and tell the story of their stupidity. You accept your position as a human being with an asterisk and know that there are less houses on the market for you, jobs that will embrace you, and people who will appreciate you for exactly who you are.
And if you’re lucky enough to be famous or wealthy, you’ll get behind a movement or make a video and try to convince others that it’s okay.
But it wont be. Not until we all accept the realities of what it takes for anything to get better. This isn’t about gays reaching out to gays, it’s about people reaching out to people.
I contend now that it can get better, but not until we insist that it does.