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June 5, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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Bent: Being Straight-Up As A Friend And Ally

Every human being, regardless of sexual or gender identity, has the imperative to join the struggle for equality.

The concept that we do not, the idea that maybe some struggles are best left to those that have no choice but to be involved in them, is the main reason that injustice still exists in 2012. As straight, cisgendered people, we will never truly comprehend homophobia and transphobia beyond the tears, anger and sadness of our best friends, our brothers and sisters. We don’t have a right to pretend that we know what it’s like to be persecuted every day of our lives for who we love or for the gender we identify as. There’s an argument, and it’s a strong one, that we therefore don’t have a right to speak on behalf of our friends who DO know what it feels like. That any attempt to do so comes off as a gratuitous attention-grab to prove our own moral superiority, and is in itself a heterosexist act. But the alternative to speaking out is to remain silent. That is something I will never, ever do, and here’s why: If a straight person isn’t actively and overtly against homophobia, that person becomes part of the wall of silence that homophobia hides behind. We might not like it, but every time the phrase ‘that’s so gay’ is uttered, it doesn’t matter if it passed through our lips or not—if we let it go, we’re accepting it as just a part of how straight people speak, and that is unacceptable. The fight for equality is not a zero-sum battle fought between the queer community and the rest of the world. No homophobe is going to hide behind me and tell me that I’m his ally because of my sexuality. We can’t comprehend what it’s like to make a decision, every day, in the face of unfathomable hatred, to just keep going. To survive. We might want to jump into our best friend’s head, and give them just one day of respite, while we take over their internal struggle, but we can’t. But there are things we CAN do. We don’t swagger into a queer rights group and say ‘I support equality, give me a cookie’ (supporting equality only entitles you to not be punched in the face). But when we see injustice, we speak against it, as loudly as we possibly can.

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