I’ve been at my job for barely a week, but I’m already getting tired of being “the new guy”. A coworker of mine has a tendency to bring that up more often than she needs to. I’ll need help with something, she’ll explain it to me, then say, “Sorry, he’s new” to the waiting customers. I don’t think they needed to hear that, honey. I know she means well, and so far, she has been extremely helpful and personable. I’m just saying that I would probably be more inclined to come to her with questions if I didn’t have to be reminded that I have a lot to learn. Working in a coffee shop, as anyone who has done it can tell you, is complicated. Even learning to work the register takes days. It’s basically just a zillion little things that you have to remember, and if you don’t, they WILL ask you to make their drink again. So there’s that.
This is all I’m going to say about the government shutdown for the time being: Deep down, most of us agree on this one.
Regular readers of this blog probably know that one of my heroes is Dan Savage, co-founder of the It Gets Better project and sex advice columnist/podcaster. One of my favorite things about him is that in his career, he has managed to piss off pretty much everyone. Since what he says is almost always true, it makes people’s outrage that much sweeter. He has been accused of hating bisexuals, not because he doesn’t believe it exists (he does), but because a lot of “bisexual” men are gay, but half in the closet, and real bisexuals will have an easier time convincing people that they actually do swing both ways when they start calling out the posers. He doesn’t hate asexuals, either, but since he has little patience for asexual people who go on dates with sexual people (who comprise the overwhelming majority of the population), he gets accused of hating them, too. (By way of analogy, picture a gay guy going on a date with a straight woman and neglecting to mention that he likes dick. Sounds like a shitty thing to do, doesn’t it?) Essentially, Dan wants people to be open and honest about who they are. He also urges non-homophobic Christians to speak out against homophobic ones to let nonbelievers know that they are Not All Like That.
Some of you might be resistant to that last part. You might be wondering why you have an obligation to go out of your way to get up in the face of people who disagree with you. To them I say: Remember that story in the Gospels where Jesus goes apeshit because people are exchanging money at a temple? It’s okay to get angry. In a lot of cases, it’s better than being passive. Just make sure that you’re getting angry at the right people and for the right reasons and you’ll be fine.
What inspired me to write this blog? I think it was this article. I’ve heard a lot of silly criticisms of the It Gets Better project over the years, but this has got to be one of the silliest. In this article, a writer whose work I have enjoyed elsewhere essentially claims that he has faced far worse prejudice for being fat than being gay. That might be true, actually. I do not presume to know the experiences of other people. But then he goes on to argue that since the It Gets Better project focuses mainly on anti-gay bullying, it somehow excludes overweight people. I have no idea how that works. Yes, Dan Savage is good-looking. His husband, for that matter, is drop-dead gorgeous. But I see nothing in the video that started the campaign nor in any of Savage’s comments about it that implies that anti-gay bullying is the only kind of bullying that matters. Savage, in fact, has gone out of his way to say just the opposite on numerous occasions. His point is that when it comes to being told, day-in and day-out, that you are worthless, nobody has it worse than the LGBT community. That’s a fact. That does not mean that non-LGBT folks’ problems are any less valid, nor that anti-gay bullying is a universal constant. But it does mean that if Dan Savage does not explicitly mention the bullying that people face for being fat, Latino, nerdy, too tall, too short, redheaded, or Albanian every single time he talks about the project, he is not necessarily throwing those people under the bus. Get that through your head.
What I love most about the It Gets Better project is contained in the word “better”. Nobody said it will be blissful. It could be if you’re very, very lucky, but most likely, it won’t. Savage has said that one of his favorite videos is this one (which I’ve posted before), in which a non-conventionally attractive Latina lesbian from the Bronx explains that from her perspective, what changes isn’t that life gets easier, but that you get tougher. I agree. My life is a long way from being good. That’s part of the reason why I never contributed to the project. I’ve never had a boyfriend (which I am contractually required to mention as often as possible), but I do think I’m getting better at seeing through people’s bullshit. That’s really all you can hope for.