Sunday, December 29, 2013

On Phil Robertson, From a Straight Woman Herself

On the heels of the Phil Robertson/Duck Dynasty fiasco, a blog post entitled "A Gay Man's Take on Phil Robertson" has gone viral on Facebook. The post starts with the phrase "from a gay man, himself." The post copies a comment from a self-identified conservative gay man who is not offended by the comments made by Mr. Robertson. He goes on to say that the reason his "fellow homosexuals on the left" are offended is that they "haven't come to terms with what it means to be gay." Nice. Super tolerant of difference there, Sir.

The gay community, like any demographic, is complex and diverse. Finding a gay man (or ten or one hundred) does not a blanket statement make, and it doesn't complicate the issue any further. Any sentence that begins with "My gay friend says..." or "My gay friend thinks..." only demonstrates that the speaker does not see gay people as individuals thinking independently and differently from one another. If one gay man thinks what Phil Robertson says was okay, they all must, right? Wait... Lots of people are offended by Phil Robertson's comments in Rolling Stone. Lots of people aren't. The notion that any one person gets to speak for a community is problematic to say the least. The notion that freedom of speech equals freedom of consequence, particularly from a privately-owned business, is inaccurate.

When I hit the stage in life when I began learning that people I loved identified as gay, lesbian, and bisexual, I started looking at these issues through my care for the individual; I saw statements like that of Mr. Robertson's as affecting people in my world and that was why it mattered to me. Now I see it as a larger human rights issue; while I still associate loved ones with the LGBT Rights/Equality Movement, it's also apparent to me that this is about a community of people deserving a quality of life that does not include being slammed by a celebrity who is then defended with national vigor. I hope for this not because the celebrity doesn't have the right to freedom of speech or opinion, but because we all deserve to live free of the ignorance that Mr. Robertson displayed in his interview--and yes, it was ignorant.

This is me, speaking from my personal, local, and immediate as a white, straight, middle-class woman, as someone who grew up heavily involved in the Lutheran church and takes her daughter to Sunday school every Sunday morning, as a member of several diverse, complex communities of people, and as someone who, after seeing several posts from friends, family, and acquaintances in defense of Phil Robertson, suggesting that I "tolerate difference," needed to put out there that I found his statements offensive.

So here, from a straight woman herself, the day I "tolerate" hateful speech that lumps homosexuality in with bestiality and terrorism, the day I "tolerate" a gross misrepresentation of the complexity that is sexual orientation that reduces sexual attraction to which body part is more aesthetically pleasing, the day I "tolerate" the implication that you can love someone and turn around and insult them and their community in the name of Christianity and believing in the bible--I hope that day never comes.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Laurie! My name is Heather and I was hoping you would be able to answer my question about your blog! If you could email me at Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail(dot)com that would be great!