As queer people, we have a responsibility to confront the taboo. Look deep-running opaque pain in the face and keep looking. As often as we challenge minutia and analyze how societal evils may trickle down into ordinary conversation, it is our responsibility to recognize the societal evils themselves. It’s hard to look at photographs of war and other violence, to understand or imagine the moments that compose a lifetime of hardship. If we say that we are part of an “at-risk” community and then do not address the actual avoided risks themselves, how does it get tacked onto our identity?
By this I mean. For example. HIV/AIDS, homelessness, childhood sexual violence, and murder are all hugely hyper-represented in our community. We allow the narratives of others who identify in some way with us to become our narratives, a convenient way to hold onto microphones. We identify with the fear of rejection, of disease, of violence, of stigma, but do nothing for the people for whom these are realities. This is not action. This is speaking, appropriating for the sake of unconscious self-praise. The same self-praise that ends up looking a hell of a lot like blaming the people who do not survive or overcome. Your books! Your reading! Will never! Be more accurate than the histories of others. But your books and your reading make your voice right without question. Your lives palatable as a spoon of honey. Your voice then the same.
To enter into a conversation specifically: when we have the privilege to break abuses and assaults down into questions, ambiguity – when we spread the belief that, because hardship and human pain is relative to our everyday that there is no such thing as “worse violence”, “worse pain” – we are creating a closet for people. We are creating a deeper closet for the people in our community. A closet full of the life we wear as badges, that we speak as if it’s identity. There are objectively worse human pains. There are hardships fetishized and exploited upon as a sob-story-stepping-stone-that-stays-a-stone for the lucky twice removed. You are not the community of homelessness. You are not the survivor of CSA or the face in an old photograph. Do not pin my words on your pride flag and then hold me behind glass.