Welcome To The Bitchery
Welcome To The Bitchery

I in no way speak for every single LGBTQIA* person when I speak out on this issue. I am a white gender-nonconforming cis* lesbian (*who has had periods of identifying as genderqueer; my gender identity has not been as rock-solid as some would like these past few years. However, as I currently identify as a woman, I take the "cis" label.) My experiences will differ from that of anyone who does not share these labels (and probably most who do.)

The reaction to the earlier Macklemore article was largely composed of calls to stop "ally-bashing," which I found an interesting accusation to make, given that it was an article regarding queer issues, where one would assume queer people and their thoughts might be centered in the comments. "Ally-bashing" is a problematic concept in use in many circles at the moment - particularly blogging platforms like Tumblr and commenting spaces like Jezebel - and is in no way limited to this particular discussion. While some queer people may feel a generalized hostility towards cis straight allies and manifest that consistently in unacceptable ways, the idea of "ally bashing" can be, and often is, used as a silencing technique - much like shouts of misandry may shame a woman speaking in a nonfeminist space into silence.

If you are queer - and especially if you are immediately identifiable as queer on-sight - you reside under a certain set of rules and expectations, as is the case with any minority. It is expected that you are not "overly obvious" with your queerness - and, if you are obvious on-sight, it may be expected that you be apologetic for your blatant refusal to act straight or gender-conforming - or to conform to your sex. It is expected that you are polite and kind - even in the face of extraordinary rudeness, such as a passerbye asking you and your girlfriend how you fuck (and what a delightful experience that is.) Above all, it is expected that you not uphold the Angry Queer stereotype. For lesbians like myself, for bisexual women (depending, I would say, upon who their current partner is; for a bisexual woman dating a man it may be less of an issue than for one dating a woman), and nonbinary female-leaning persons preferring female/female-leaning partners, this is especially true: women in general are under incredible pressure to not be That Bitch. That only intensifies if you discover you're a queer woman. Who hasn't heard the stereotype of the hairy-legged screeching bulldyke shouting about the penis being a bludgeon to keep womyn in their place?


Nobody wants to be the Angry Lesbian. By being seen as the Angry Lesbian, you injure your fellows, you affirm the secret conviction still very present today that we are all nasty man-hating dykes just waiting to sink our stubby fingernails into the scrotum of society and twist.

If you perpetuate that stereotype in the eyes of straight, cis people who purport to want to help, you are hurting your queer brethren. You are making them inaccessible. You are driving possible allies away, and you are making the allies that already exist mad.

See, there's a whole other kind of queer binary you've probably never heard about (unless you're queer or spend a ton of time in queer circles.) You're either the Good Queer - acceptable - or the Angry Queer - not.

Nobody wants to be the Angry Queer.

I am, by most accounts, a Good Queer. I don't really bring up my homosexuality or the fluctuation of my gender identity (in fact, this is the first time I've brought up the latter to anyone but my closest friends.) I don't rage against the injustices of a straight cis world in non-queer company. I don't generally bring up queer issues unless it's specifically suited to the situation. I do not actively make straight people uncomfortable by existing, most of the time. The only real mark against me is that, as a girl who wears suits and ties rather than skirts (personal preference, nothing against skirts), I run the risk of "shoving it in everyone's face."


Inside, however, I am an Angry Queer.

As a matter of fact, I am a wrathful angry Maleficentlike queer.


And if I could turn into a dragon there would probably be some flash-fried bigot for breakfast every day of the week.

I cannot speak to the pain and trials experienced by trans* people, and I really don't feel comfortable discussing the periods of my life where I've identified as nonbinary simply because I wasn't super-out about it and therefore was shielded from some pretty heavy blows, if not internal turmoil. However, here's a resource I often use to try to educate myself on the matter, and I encourage you to explore these blogs for yourselves. I particularly use the trans* people of color section as I find those blogs in particular are stellar privilege checkers. Of course, Kyosuke has also written scores of brilliant articles and did the Ask A Trans Woman thread - all of these open a pretty wide door into her life and experiences as a trans* woman, and those are excellent resources as well.


I can, however, speak to the experience of being a homosexual female. Of course, many of the following experiences are not exclusive to lesbians. Bisexuals, gay men, pansexuals, asexuals, and nonbinary persons may often experience similar things (though, again, I cannot speak for them). Ironically, pansexuals, asexuals, nonbinary persons, and intersex people are often othered or erased by both their own community and the straight cis people who purport to aid them. As Ubertrout has pointed out in the comments, bisexual men and women are often scoffed at and ignored - or, worse derided as, respectively, flakes who "can't pick" and sluts who are just out to get straight men. This is also a problem found in both the queer and cishet communities - bisexual people are often left stranded, unsure where to go, with half a foot in each community.


Obviously, depending which letter(s) a person identifies with, she/he/zie is going to have different experiences. But I believe what we all have in common is the rage. It's just how that rage builds that differs from letter to letter.

I know well the tension in the back of my neck that feels like it'll snap my vertebra when I'm being told I'm damned to hell by a stranger who knows only my name and the gender of my partner. I know the urge to decapitate that comes with a bastard, who doesn't have the right to know my middle initial, having the audacity to ask how I fuck. I can't kiss a partner goodbye in public for very real fear of verbal or physical harassment. I'm closeted to half my extended family still, years after coming out, for fear of being the final reason my family finally rips apart into irreparable segments of one genetic line with little more than shared names uniting the members. My fists still clench when I think about the myriad times I've been told all I need is some dick to straighten me out. I know well the seething feeling of acid rising to scorch the throat when people whisper about, stare at, and actually call out to a partner and I on the street for daring to so much as hold hands. The strong urge to throttle the woman who told me I must've been raped or molested to turn out "this way" is still vivid (I have never experienced either, and the implication that queer people who have survived either or both of these horrible crimes against them are queer because of these terrible things is like a smack in the face). The neurosis caused by a split perception of my sexuality in society is enough to put me in a coma of fury: On the one hand, I'm just entertainment for straight men. On the other hand, I'm a sexless u-haulin' dyke whose love is no more than a heightened sort of obsession. My lust does not exist, my love is not authentic. Any sex I may have, if I have sex at all, is not real sex. No, wait - I'm a predatory bitch hungry for the forbidden vulva of innocent straight girls.


This shit makes me an Angry Queer. And it's a constant low burn that I sometimes struggle to control.

Most of all, a segment of "allies" demand their voices consistently be heard and their own comfort considered over those/that of queer people in spaces where queer people should feel safe. Like articles where we're discussing queer issues. Like queer blogs. Like queer bars and clubs. Anywhere queers go, so goes the demand that we make things comfortable.


This is a hard lesson.

Allies of any kind will not always be comfortable. Think of men who complain that feminist spaces are hostile to them: sometimes they are. Sometimes, however, this discomfort experienced is the discomfort of seeing the effects of being a minority among privileged people. Sometimes, it is an ally recognizing the privilege that allows them to be an ally. The job is not to be comfortable. The job is to confront the privilege you have, to not use it to exploit or silence, and to use it to help us if you can.


But to say this - any of it - would be to invite sneers, skepticism, "it isn't that bad," "I can see how you would feel that way, but if you look at it like this...," and worst of all, "you're ALLY BASHING. Why aren't you happy you have allies?"

And so we shut up. We sit down and bite our tongues, on the streets, on Facebook, in our family homes. We don't tell Aunt Mamie that changing her profile picture to an equal sign means jack shit nothing when she doesn't even make the point of speaking out at the homophobic church book club. We don't tell best friend John that maybe instead of taking up that whole massive discussion during lunch with stories about how his sister out in California is gay and she's still a good person, he should've let the gay man sitting next to him speak for a few minutes. We often allow our voices to go unheard - and the less privileged you are to begin with, before you even bother adding the queer identifier, the less likely it is that you'll be heard if you speak anyway.


So, when we do speak up, when we do attempt to explain our opinions - maybe politely, maybe not - and we are met with accusations of "ally bashing," the impulse is to clam up. After all, these people are nice people. These people are allies. These people just want to help. As a matter of fact, we need these people's help in order to gain any semblance of equality - not just marriage and the right to adopt, but job protection, safe housing plans, even the right to kiss a partner hello in public - hell, the right to walk down the street with them safely.

Trying to explain anything prickly to an ally would just cause more issues and divisiveness, wouldn't it?


Here's the thing.

Correcting someone's misinformation is not "ally bashing."

Attempting to clarify something is not "ally bashing."

Attempting to express an opinion that makes an ally uncomfortable does not necessarily translate to "ally bashing."


Most of us aren't out to get The Cishets. We live in a society mostly comprised of you guys. We live with and work with and love you guys. And, no, we're not saying that "you can't do anything" or telling you you're a bad ally by virtue of existing. That's missing the point. It's just that when we speak up, please listen.

We may not always speak with a unified voice. However, generally we can come to some consensus on most matters - and, if a queer person asks you to tone things down, generally we really aren't being unreasonable. Remember, most of us do our best to not be the Angry Queer, because we immediately lose all credibility in the eyes of most by becoming angry and not being the docile, friendly version of "queer" that society sees as "safe." Therefore, risking that becomes a liability. If we're hedging bets, it's most likely an issue we genuinely feel is important. Please, listen. Understand where we're coming from. Try and consider the possibility that we know what we're talking about.


Above all, please, amplify our voices. Do not co-opt them. Do not speak for us. Do not center yourselves in discussions about our rights, struggles, or concerns - participation is fine! Hijacking it? Not so much. Allow us a platform on which to speak.

And for God's sake, don't scream "ally bashing" because something we say makes you feel uncomfortable. We may well know it makes you feel uncomfortable. That may in fact be why we said it. Consider the source of your discomfort rather than go with the knee-jerk reaction of "you're bashing an ally! STAHP."


And if you come to the conclusion that we're just being jackass Angry Queers, fine. Sometimes, there are Angry Queers who are just too angry.


However, you may reach another one entirely.

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