My father did something two days ago that made me want to punch him in the face. When I asked him for money to go grocery shopping, he asked to see my financial aid packet from Columbia. I’ve been trying to figure out how I’m going to pay for grad school for quite some time. If I can’t find some method of paying that will allow me to avoid spending the next 20 years paying off a loan, I won’t go. But that’s not the point. The point is that the conversation started with my father asking to see how much money the school was offering me in loans and ended with me enrolled. I didn’t ask for that. He asked how much the school required as a deposit and when I told him, he sat down at the computer and gave them his credit card information. Call me crazy, but shouldn’t decisions like that be up to me? I’m dependent on my parents for enough. I don’t need them choosing where I receive my education as well. What’s frustrating about conversations like this one is that they’re never just about my career or my education. When my mother asks me if I’ve had any luck finding a job, it’s because she wants to make sure that I’ve been looking hard enough. Every decision I make must be ratified by a committee of two, and if I don’t like it, then I have to endure a lecture about how they’re just trying to help me. I’ve got news for them: meaning well isn’t enough.
I’m not much for heart-to-heart conversations. I generally think that if people need to be told to act like human beings, something is fundamentally wrong. That said, I’m not too worried. My father will come around, just like the rest of humanity. I’m just tired of having to scream to make my voice heard. People will always ignore your wishes until you make them listen. Parents are, for many people, their first brush with bigotry. Everything a child says is suspect, every argument they make undermined because they’re too young to know what they’re talking about. Responsibilities are doled out by authority figures at their convenience, never when the child wants them. Somewhere along the line, that has to change. And it’s up to the child to decide when that is.
I know far too many people who are scared to speak their minds because they will be shut down. Most of them are straight white males who, more often than not, have a lot to say about social issues but are ignored because, well, what could they possibly know about discrimination? I belong to exactly one minority group, and I try very hard not to harp on it. It does not make me an authority on suffering. It does not give me the right to speak for anyone but myself. No matter who you are, speaking on behalf of others is a privilege. They can revoke it at any time. Arguing about who is more oppressed is idiotic, because even if you are handicapped, black, and Jewish, there is certainly a transsexual black handicapped Jew somewhere who has you beat by a lot. This next statement is easy to misconstrue, so I have to be careful: Everybody hurts. “How could you possibly understand how I feel?” is a question that is sometimes fair, and sometimes used just to make the person being asked feel like an asshole. And I am tired of hearing that since I don’t have firsthand knowledge of something, I can’t have an opinion about it.
Coming out of the closet is kind of like quitting smoking—you can’t fully understand it unless you’ve gone through it yourself. That’s why it’s difficult to determine just how much and what kind of attention should be lavished upon people who are still doing it. When he was promoting the It Gets Better Project, co-founder/re-definer of “Santorum”/sex columnist/all-around pillar of awesome Dan Savage often fielded the question as to why the project was focused on gay teens when teens are bullied for all sorts of reasons. Savage responded—accurately—that while bullying occurs for many reasons, there really is no group of people who has it worse than gay teens. I don’t have a problem with his answer, but I question the motives of the people who asked the question. Why should the project have to say anything about straight teens? If Savage and Co. wanted to talk exclusively about growing up gay, what would the problem with that be? I guarantee you that if someone started a project devoted to helping victims of bullying and left out the LGBT ones, you wouldn’t hear a peep from those people. Dan Savage might point out that in this day and age, you’d have to go out of your way to talk about bullying without mentioning people who were abused for being perceived as gay, and those same people who boldly stood up for non-gay teens would tell him to sit down and shut up, because this isn’t all about him. But in a sense, it is. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
My fondest wish is that I will someday point the middle finger at enough people that the only ones left will be the ones who make my life easier, not harder. Most people are not completely hopeless. Some love their prejudices more than they love me, some just want attention, and a few are assholes right to their core. The majority of them can be made to listen. Really, that’s the most anyone can ask for. If nothing else, it might give their blog a little bit more traffic. Otherwise, they’re just howling at the madness.
For no particular reason, I’m going to conclude with a link to a Nikki Minaj video. That, or a close-up of genital warts. One of the two.