Your Mind

My Super Ignorant, Homophobic Mistake

By January 14, 2016 0

Yesterday, like almost everyday, I began my daily routine of checking social media; Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, repeat. But instead of my usual, half-paying-attention, scroll-and-move-on technique, I actually came across a post that made my thumb stop in it’s tracks.

A female friend of mine uploaded a very cute picture in front of the Brooklyn Bridge… with her girlfriend.

Now, this girl and I weren’t the best of friends, but we’ve hung out and grabbed lunch together a few times. Never once in conversation did she mention her sexuality. Initially, I was shocked that she didn’t tell me. Did she think I would care? I’m a liberal! I’ve always advocated for gay rights, I celebrated when gay marriage was legalized, I love Ellen DeGeneres. I’m a dancer for Christ sake! I’ve been surrounded by gay guys since I was nine years old! Did she think I wouldn’t be her friend if I knew she was a lesbian?

I went back to her Instagram to reevaluate the picture. Maybe I misinterpreted the caption? Maybe she just calls all of her friends “girlfriend?” Could it have been a joke? I mean, she never seemed like a lesbian to me…

And that’s when it hit me. It wasn’t her who was in the wrong, it was me. I was being a complete, ignorant asshole. I was internally doing exactly what I had previously spoken out against before; treating homosexuality like it was abnormal. How could I be such a hypocrite?! I’ve literally gotten in screaming matches with people for making ignorant comments about homosexuality, yet here I am staring at a picture of my friend, having hetero-normative thoughts.

I guess I’m not as progressive as I thought. I’m not saying that I’m against gay rights at all. I do believe that any and all types of love is valid. But, as a heterosexual, white female, homosexuality is hard for me to understand. Of course, I accept and support it, but I will never fully be able to understand it simply because I am not gay. I can try, but my social location is involuntary. I can never step out of myself and view something completely objectively. No one can.

As much as us progressives hate to admit, none of us are totally objective. We are shaped by our race, gender, sex, religion, etc., and that’s okay. What is not okay is discriminating against people who differ from us.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with acknowledging differences. What is wrong, is seeing differences as abnormalities. That’s something that this situation helped me to understand that I still need to work on.

I understand now that it’s not required for my friend to tell me her sexuality because it doesn’t affect our relationship whatsoever. I never felt obligated to tell her my sexuality, so why should she feel obliged to tell me hers?

I need to start practicing what I preach. Equality is not only achieved through our legislature, it’s achieved when we don’t think twice about someone’s sexuality, race or religion because it simply doesn’t matter. It’s achieved in the small acts, like me scrolling past a picture of a girl with her girlfriend at the same speed that I scroll past a girl’s picture with her boyfriend. It’s achieved when I resolve to switch over to Snapchat thereafter, because seeing another friend’s drunk snap-stories is way more unusual than two people showcasing their love for one another.