Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Grappling Hook

[posted by Callimachus]

Thoughtful, erudite, yet very down-to-earth series of posts beginning here, continues here. Sample:

I’ve learned recently from talking to straight people who were picked on, beaten up, etc., as kids–for being geeks or losers or whatever–that the mistreatment they endured never held any great meaning for them. It was just a profoundly unpleasant experience, a miserable time of their lives, and they were just glad when it was over. In my mind, however, my suffering at the hands of my peers on account of my queerness was woven into the struggle for gay rights, this grand cosmic narrative of good versus evil. Somehow, just by being myself in spite of the consequences, I felt I was fighting a little battle in the great war for justice and freedom and equality, doing my part for the cause. (In retrospect, that was all incredibly silly, but it sure did help me survive early adolescence.)

Once I got out of high school and away from my parents, I tried to make myself as queer-looking as possible, but unfortunately most people just assumed I was a straight boy. (Or occasionally a gay boy, which made for some awkward situations!) So I stuck all these gay buttons on my backpack, hoping some ignorant hetero would notice and get in my face about it. The few times I did get serious negative attention, I was admittedly a bit frightened in the moment, but after it passed I would be very proud of myself for being such a fighter and messing with those bigots’ comfort zones. (Miraculously, despite my mother’s dire predictions, I never got gay-bashed during this time, although I did have to call upon my gifts as a sprinter on one occasion.) I saw Matthew Shepard not as a victim, but as a martyr. I was very out, and was convinced that anyone who didn’t instantly respond well to that wasn’t someone who was worth knowing. I gloried in discrimination and homophobia in the way that some American evangelicals yearn for persecution and harassment to the point of hallucinating it. I was a zealot.

[Hat tip for this and the previous post to Eve-tushnet]