Tuesday 14 June 2016

Despicable Me

Well, I learned a thing or two yesterday. Having got used to seeing the abbreviation LGBT used liberally – or illiberally – by the media and having got used to the idea that Gay Pride has become LGBT Pride I stumbled upon LGBTQ. “Q?” I asked, “Queer” ‘they’ replied (personal pronouns get trickier every day). Then, just as I was absorbing this new piece of concatenation and wondering what the crucial difference between L, G and Q was, I was introduced to LGBTQI, to which I wittily asked “QI means like Stephen Fry?” The rolling of the tumbleweed could be heard across the world.

Twitter is marvellous. It lets you have conversations that in real life could get you beaten up, barred, sacked or excommunicated. You can stop any time you like and you don’t have to lose friends over it – not real friends, anyway. But some just take it too far. Words on a screen are worse than weapons to some and to misuse forms of address for those who don’t conform to what is undeniably the binary norm is considered almost as bad as physical abuse. One day we may all end up with our own individual identification and wear tattooed bar codes on our foreheads so that people know how to greet us and what subjects to steer away from, or be uncharacteristically sensitive to.

But if you can choose something as fundamental as your gender/sexual identity and then march and campaign for recognition, surely you can be big enough to choose how you react towards those who don’t understand your concerns. It’s not their battle to fight for your rights and some of them are bewildered and yes, offended by your insistence that they accept you, no matter how much it costs them. It might be in your interests if you are a militant gender warrior to cut them some slack; after all, many of them are from the generation who fought – actually fought and died - for the rights you so casually demand.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. My reaction to intolerance is indifference. You don’t like my plain vanilla identity, I don’t care. That doesn’t mean I ‘hate’ you; far from it. And while I find the screeching and appropriation amusing, your multi-coloured, bifurcated, binary-denying, straight-hating, all-inclusive-unless-you’re-a-Tory, confused, identity-meandering crusade is just a sideshow to the important things in life. It may be important to you, but it really isn’t important to anybody else, other than some right-on politicians looking for a sectarian vote bloc.

The important things in life? Well, that’s up to you. But in my book that means navigating the stormy waters of this veil of tears with, well, with as few actual tears as possible. Not starting fights you can’t finish, not getting upset over things you can’t change and not craving things you will never have. Try it, a quiet pragmatism goes a long way in the search for contentment. I really don’t care whether you are L or G or B or T or Q or I or even 'plus'; it's not me you have to convince... it sounds like it's you. You’re welcome.

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