“I’m not gay but…”

Thanks for that.

(Or ‘How not to be an ally’)

So the I’m not gay but I don’t care if you are Facebook group popped up in my feed again to remind me just how much I hate their faux-progressive posturing.

Recently I posted an angry Facebook thread (where I believe I called it “heteronormative bullshit”) about it, where the general consensus among both queer and straight friends was that I was “being too harsh” and “at least they’re trying” and I should “stop nitpicking” etc. etc.

I’m still pretty sure I was right, and here’s why:

Firstly, and this is far from the main problem, within a heteronormative society it’s just not enough to “not care” if someone is gay. You have a duty to actively think about being inclusive, in the language you use, the way you behave, and the kinds of speech and behaviour you put up with from friends.1 Not caring is a cop out that avoids dealing with the specific needs and sensitivities that queer people have as a result of living under an oppressive system.

1. This, by the way, means challenging homophobic speech even when there’s no queer people around.

But the worst part is, “I’m not gay but” is a pretty clear attempt to retain access to a privileged identity while defending an oppressed group. It’s wanting to appear pro-gay while avoiding all the negative consequences of being associated with queers; some of us don’t have that luxury. It’s “I think being gay is ok, and I’m straight so you should take me seriously”.  It’s “I’m normal, but if you’re not that’s cool with me”. And it’s pretty offensive.

I’ve had this move used on me in person on occasion, and it’s a pretty uncomfortable experience: When arguing with some outright homophobe about something, some hetero white-knight will come over and pull the “I’m not gay but I agree with you” move.2Immediately, the dynamic of the conversation shifts from me arguing with a dickhead, to two straight people arguing about me in my presence, and I don’t like it. When someone pulls the “I’m not gay but” move, I don’t think “oh great, an ally” – all I see is someone who wants to reassure a homophobe that he’s not one of the queers.

2. And often expect me to be grateful for their “tolerance”. As a rule, I don’t appreciate being tolerated (as opposed to included/accepted) and you won’t get a good reaction if you try it.

If you want to actually be an ally (as opposed to posing as one) it’s not going to be consequence-free – siding with an oppressed class rarely is – and one of those consequences is people will associate you with a group of people whose sexuality is stigmatised and shamed. If being mistakenly thought of as gay is such a big deal for you that you need to assert your heterosexuality at the beginning of a discussion then you’re not an ally, and you’re probably at some level a homophobe.

  1. Sam said:

    Stop hating and nitpicking. Leave that for the straight homophobes. You’re not doing the gay community any favors by spewing hatred and judgement. Isn’t that exactly what you ask the heterosexual community NOT to do? I think that’s a little bit hypocritical there aren’t you?

  2. Myself said:

    You’re making it too complicated. It’s showing support to gays from non-gays. It’s showing that you don’t have to fall in the description of the cause to fight for it. You have to identify that you are or are not to show your background on the matter and to show that support comes from diverse areas.

  3. Ryan said:

    This post: “You can be straight, just don’t assert it or use it for acceptance, because that might offend some people”

    Don’t Ask Don’t Tell: “You can be gay, just don’t assert it or use it for acceptance, because that might offend some people”

  4. Jiu-JitsuGuy said:

    Whomever wrote this is a very sad person. I can see the hurt and mistreatment by the way they argue and nitpick the semantics of this Facebook site, especially a site that has dedicated their time to support the who I am assuming is a gay person writing this article. Time to accept your probably sad and scary past and move forward with your life to one that is more welcoming today than it was yesterday. There is nothing wrong with “I’m not gay but I don’t care if you are”, they are providing an outlet in a public forum to spread the word and awareness of support for the GLBTQ community, unlike this blog post that seems to imitate the vitriolic diatribes of the far right and religious community.

  5. “I’m Spartacus!”
    “I’m not Spartacus, but I still think he’s being treated really unfairly!”
    “Me too, although I’m also definitely not Spartacus!”
    “Nor am I, but I agree with what the other not-Spartacuses said!”

    I don’t think that would have worked quite so well, somehow.

    People in Facebook groups like this probably *do* mean well. I imagine they’ve not experienced a great deal of homosexuality or homophobia in their lives, don’t spent a lot of time thinking about either one, and think clicking ‘Like’ to something like this is a good way of showing that they reckon being gay is fine and all the anti-gay stuff they sometimes read about is just not on.

    But a crucial part of *actually* being a useful ally to someone involves listening when they tell you you’re not helping, and not just flinching away in outrage at the suggestion that your motives might be anything less than pure and selfless.

    In other words, if someone’s going to be an ally worth having, this is exactly the sort of post they should read, and they ought to be able to take the message on board without getting huffy, complaining that they’re only trying to help and you should appreciate them more, and making it all about *their* hurt feelings.

  6. gwenwifar said:

    Let’s see… where to start?

    I have been in more discussions than I care to count, on many different topics, in which I have told people some variation of the following:
    I’m sorry that you find it hurtful when I post this cartoon, and I understand that you don’t agree with the position the religious leader/politician/whatever has taken on this. But when you go to his church/vote for him you are giving them the right to speak in your name, on your behalf. You empower them. And that means that when you don’t like what they are saying, it is your responsibility to withdraw that right and that power, or to take your share of the guilt.

    There are a lot of people out there right now, making the fight for gay rights an “us” versus “them” fight. A lot of loud voices claiming to speak for straight people, claiming to be defending straight people from some kind of organized attack from the infamous gay agenda. Just as I consider it the responsibility of a religious person to stand up and speak agaist the bigotry being espoused in their church, I consider it the responsibility of straight people who are supportive of gay rights to say “I’m straight, and these douchebags do not speak for me, I am not under attack, I don’t want to be protected from gay rights”.
    It’s not about somehow claiming superior status, it’s about undermining the claims being made on the other side of the issue. It’s about saying, the politicians and religious leaders of the world may see me as some kind of superior being, but I will not accept the priviledge. It’s about fighting from inside the enemy ranks.

    Also, newsflash – if straight people didn’t care about the “the specific needs and sensitivities that queer people have as a result of living under an oppressive system”, they would not be bothering to stand up and be counted. If straight people didn’t see and object to the injustices, there would be no reason to make any kind of a statement about it, not even the watered down cop out you seem to believe this is. The name isn’t “I don’t care about you”, it’s “I don’t care if you are” gay. What the page name means is, at the end of the day, your sexual orientation (whatever it is) doesn’t define you, doesn’t say anything about the kind of person you are, and it shouldn’t come with consequences, or limit you. It should be irrelevant and inconsequential. It IS irrelevant and inconsequential to us. That is the goal.

    Frankly, I think you do straight allies an injustice if you think they are challenging the status quo to earn some kind of gay brownie points without losing access to straight priviledge. And you do them an even greater one if you think they limit their activism to when gay people are around. It’s not about getting the approval of gay people. It’s about having seen something wrong in the world, and moving to change it, because it is every person’s responsibility to try to make the world a better place.

  7. The most important thing for everyone here to remember is…I didn’t create this page to impress gay people. Whether or not any gay people like this page is really inconsequential.
    This page was designed and intended for a specific purpose that has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with Aidan.
    Aidan was, somehow, duped into thinking that his opinion on this matter was relevant.
    Its not.
    That is all. ☮

  8. mylow said:

    It has happend to me also. This was the story, a year before my close friend asked me about it. I was sad and shoked about it and afterwards i think very much about if other peopels are concidering of me as gay, and so many peopel in the following occation said me the same thing, i was stressed and even get some difficulties in my confidence. I some times ask that, why peopel are talking about somebody which they don’t know exactly.
    I read the SECRET book and I found which was my mistake, it was my mistake that – I think of very much about the other think of me. I found the final true answer – I know I’m not, This Is Enough!..

    Those were my experiances, nowadays man who dress well, who do have a different life of way, who is anti-social, who is hospitable to do good for others, who perform not to gossip are assumed to be gay. Some peopel get satsifaction while degrading peoepl.

    If a girl said you’re gay, you know you are not, but, the truth is you showed her disintrest in her. If a man asked you about it may be he is gay and he would like to hide himself by giving you a false image. If you’re said, you have to know that you are good looking and enjoying your self what the majority dosen’t do, they’re gossiping because they can’t be like you. Little mind inspire with little things!

    You are the only person who can do better for you is YOU. If you continue to think about other think of me, you will lose all your confidence and continue to lose your great energy of life. Please, stop thinking about it now then your thoughs are changing your enviroment. Our thoughts wether they are good or bad – they are basic factors for our life. My final word is that: As you know your self you are not, it’s enough!

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