When you are queer, you have the option of being invisible. Sometimes, there are times when being Out is pointless or irrelevant. (For example, a job interview—my sexuality has nothing to do with my ability to do a job). But other times, you can’t stay silent. Silence in the face of bigotry is dangerous. The bigot, facing no opposition, brays on, continuing to say hurtful and abusive things. The bigot believes, erroneously, that silence = agreement.
When I volunteered at the last World Fantasy Convention, one of my co-volunteers was L. Jagi Lamplighter, wife of John C. Wright, who has become more famous for his unhinged, overheated and overlong rants on queer people than he has for his fiction. (There a plenty of places online to read his various epic tirades). The family resides in the DC area, so they are local to me. I didn’t come out to Lamplighter, for a couple of reasons. First, it was irrelevant to the work we were doing (cooking, cleaning, setting up and dismantling the con suite and bar, etc). Second, I didn’t want to make waves. I was initially nervous, though. Surely, she must be as over the top as her husband.
She was not. She was perfectly lovely and friendly. Maybe if I had come out, she would have turned on a dime and become vituperative. But my instinct is that she still would be friendly. It is difficult to reconcile the warmth of Ms. Lamplighter with the hatred of Mr. Wright.
To him, I am perverse monster, an affront to his marriage, family and religion. My very existence invites, to paraphrase one of his statements, being beaten with tire-irons and ax-handles. Here’s the thing: I have been assaulted for being gay. (Ill share the story another time, maybe). And the times I’ve been called slurs (both racial and homophobic) are too numerous to recount. I’m very familiar with how religiosity masks and justifies hatred. Those words of his have consequences, often lethal ones.
But, in the light of the politics of resentment that have recently come to light (vis a vis the Hugo kerfuffle), silence is no longer an option.In retrospect, I wish I did come out to Wright’s wife. It could have gone disastrously, of course. But maybe, just maybe, knowing his wife worked with a Real Live Homosexual might have mitigated some of the rhetoric thrown our way. Maybe it would be just a tad more difficult to type a post excusing the violence I have actually faced. The Gays are an abstraction, a boogeyman to real against. Craig Laurance Gidney, however, is a real human being, known for his talent and his sense of humor.
I’ve turned my Cloaking Device off. I am here. I’m black. I’m gay. And I’m not going anywhere.
(Comments are closed because I have neither the time or energy to deal with bigots).