Dear Straight People

HI. I’m talking to you.

You’re a staunch Ally. You support your Queer friends, you support laws that are directed at recognizing our equality (not giving us equality, but recognizing that condition, an important and subtle distinction, right?).

You’re doing what you can do to help us, and I appreciate that. Really, I do. I am well aware that we need allies. No social justice movement has ever survived without the support of a significant number of people who represent the dominant culture.

Here’s the part that I need you to understand.

Part of the experience of being marginalized is microaggressions — ambiguous situations where discrimination happens in ways that are not cut and dried. It’s been shown that these situations have a serious negative effect on us. It’s like walking around with the top layer of your skin abraded away, where something that wouldn’t bother you if it happens once in a while stings like a yellowjacket precisely because it keeps happening, over and over, and if you react to it, people who don’t deal with it all the time wonder “what’s their problem?”

“Why are you so sensitive?”

“You need to grow a thicker skin.”

I have a thicker skin that you can possibly realize. Or, I should say, I had one. I had rhino skin, baby, but I’ve been standing in one of those sandblasting boxes for the majority of my life. If you’ve ever had sand in your underwear you know that it can seriously inhibit your enjoyment of the beach.

That’s not my point, though. That’s just background.

People need to vent. People need to blow off steam.

People in marginalized populations sometimes say things about the dominant culture in less than perfectly tactful ways. Say things like “many straight people suck, man.” Some even say things like “I hate straight people.”

Sometimes these things are said in private. And everyone involved in the conversation knows that it is an expression of our frustration, of abrasion, of just always having to be sweetness and light. Always. Every single time.

Because if you say something like that in public, it makes straight people uncomfortable. And God forbid we should do anything that makes you uncomfortable, even for a moment, even if there is absolutely no way that anything we say can possibly cause you any damage whatsoever beyond that instant of minor discomfort. Of asking yourself, “Hmm. Do I suck? Nope. OK then.”

Oh dear lovely straight people who are my friends and allies — you’re right. You don’t suck. I wasn’t talking about you.

So why do you feel the need to tell me to simmer down, to not be so angry, to remember that I need Allies? Anytime I say something negative about straight people, why do you assume that I’m talking about you, specifically?

I’m not. I’m talking about the ones that suck.

It’s not directed at the people helping us, helping me. It’d directed at the people who are hurting us, hurting me.

But let’s talk a little bit more about microaggressions.

What you are doing when you jump to the defense of all those poor helpless straight people who I am slandering when I (or a friend) says “Many straight people suck” is a classic microaggression. It is ambiguous — there is no single thing I can point to and say “This. This exact phrase caused a problem for me, had evil intent.”

But here’s what you’re saying.

You’re saying I either don’t have the right to be angry at all, or that my anger is misdirected. That I need to be sure that my language carefully divides the good from the bad, that I need to start every single expression of frustration or anger with two paragraphs of egg-walking apologies and submissive cringing so I don’t discommode you — just as I started this blog post. Because as long as I am cringing, as long as I am crawling with my belly and my throat exposed, you know that I am not a threat.

I want you to ask yourself why my statement that can be taken as a diss on straight people is so threatening to you.

Do you think that if my kind ever get our equality recognized, we’ll flip it into superiority and start treating straight people the way that queer people have been treated? (At least one of my friends seems to feel that way.)

Do you feel that it actually does apply to you?

Here’s another piece of the puzzle. When I ask that people around me use language that is tuned to my and my friend’s comfort — use the right pronouns, avoid slurs, don’t erase me — I often get accused of being “overly politically correct.” (I feel that I am simply being correct, by the way, and if someone thinks that’s political, well, thanks for recognizing that the personal is political.)

But if the object is the comfort of people who represent the dominant, then it’s not “being PC”. It’s just viewed as… the way it should be. Because if the dominant are discommoded, then Houston, we have a problem, but if it’s people who have been pushed to the fringes who are feeling the burn, it’s a case of people being oversensitive.

People needing a thicker skin.

People needing to just quit taking themselves so seriously.

See what I’m talking about? For every queer person that says “I hate straight people” there have been a thousand slights and insults and injuries, some of which are huge and life-threatening, and some of which just result in tender tissues that everyone has being painfully scabbed over. A scar from a thousand cuts is still a scar.

Straight is a socially acceptable identity. It is a foundation of security that is used to deny people like me even the basic ontological regard of existence. Nothing, absolutely nothing I can ever say will do anything to rock that foundation in any way, even the slightest. For example: straight is universally recognized as a stable identity — no one looks at a person who identifies as straight and says to them “Well, you’ll get over that one of these days”.*

But think about it — the overwhelming majority of LGB people have, at one time, either self-identified (or outwardly identified, to pass) as straight. Doesn’t that make straight a transitional identity?

Now, personally, I don’t believe straight is a fragile of false identity. That doesn’t matter because my point is that even if I did, that opinion would in no way affect straight people’s perceptions of themselves, or other’s perceptions of straight people. I cannot harm you.

But you can harm me. And you say you want to help me, and I believe that.

So here’s a way you can help me. Don’t get defensive about my anger. Don’t tell me that if my public mask slips and I say something out of frustration out of pain out of a fresh bleeding crack in my scar tissue, that you’re not one of them, that many or most straight people are not jerks. I know that.

When you tell me, because I have expressed my pain in a way you find aggressive, that I need to be nicer because I need Allies, what you are saying to me is If I don’t toe the line, you will no longer support me. Your support is contingent on my making extra efforts to make you comfortable at all times.

    Every single second of every single day.

Considering the myriad of things that I have done in my life to keep straight people comfortable — for my own safety, including hiding my identity and history for decades — why am I expected to continue to put their comfort first even after coming out?

Assume if I or anyone else says something about straight people that you think might be touchy or disrespectful or oh I don’t know maybe ANGRY, that it doesn’t apply to you personally. Consider this a universal disclaimer.

It’s not directed at the people who are helping us. It’s directed at the people who are HURTING us. If you are helping us, then help us a little more by allowing us to be human beings and get angry/upset/less than perfectly tactful once in a damned while.

Others have said exactly what I said here. In my opinion, they have said it better. But straight people are not listening to them, because they have not been careful to embed it in apologies, to surround their harsh words with cotton wool and flannel batting, to meticulously avoid the slightest possible indication that they might actually be hurting and angry.

Maybe this time, I’ve said it with enough civil gentility to be honestly heard. I don’t know — my “Angry Bisexual With A Keyboard” tagline may have been enough to turn people off.

Because God forbid I be angry. Or hurt. Or even disappointed. I mean, I need Allies, right? Wouldn’t want to say anything that might make even one person who casts a vote in my favor decide to stay home this election day.

*With the exception of some people who want to validate themselves by claiming that everyone is bisexual, a type of erasure that I have addressed before and certainly will again

About fliponymous

Bisexual activist, thinker, writer, husband and father, non-traditional Graduate student, member BiNet USA Board of Directors. When I grow up I want to be an Existential/Feminist Psychotherapist, a community college instructor, and expand my work for bisexual visibility and equality for everyone in the QUILTBAG. This is my personal blog and the views here do not represent the official position of BiNet USA.
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52 Responses to Dear Straight People

  1. I love this. I immediately think of how if I say “I hate humans” when it comes to how we treat animals, suddenly I’m going to save a cat from a burning building over a baby. Everyone is so sensitive over language, as if everything said is an absolute. I think we as bisexuals are allowed a bit of fucking room to vent without having to back peddle when it isn’t the prettiest shade on our face.

    • fliponymous says:

      And isn’t it funny how sometimes the people being incredibly sensitive about language directed in their general direction put us down for having even a mild reaction to shit said directly to us…

  2. judyt54 says:

    It’s called misdirection, and suddenly you find yourself in the middle of an argument about kitty litter or lima beans when all you actually said, was, “I hate humans that…”

    Someone is trying to tie you up in knots over nothing, just to prove their superiority to you, for whatever reason. I ve seen this a bajillion times, and so have you , Flipper, if you recall Lorelei and Karl and all the other shit stirrers who could derail a simple comment and turn it into a speeding bullet…

    The best answer is no answer.

    People are sensitive now over language because they have an audience and a soap box. =)

    • fliponymous says:

      Karl… I had forgotten the Dancing Bears and Her Misunderstood Highness! *snort*

      If anyone reading this has any idea what we’re talking about they would belly-laugh :)

  3. JDG719 says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. A million times, thank you. This is perfect.

  4. Deva says:

    As an “angry bisexual with a keyboard” myself, I used to often think that straight people suck. When I came out, and did my version of cross dressing, I quickly found that a lot of gay people suck too. At this point, I’m pretty much just convinced that people suck, even the ones who don’t often do.

  5. E. says:

    Interesting article :)

    I can’t speak for your friends, but my support of my gay/trans/genderqueer friends is not contingent on them making me feel comfortable at all times. And vice versa, actually… I’ve definitely said some dumb things but fortunately they’ve not given up on me :)

    However, I bristle when someone states that “straight people suck,” not because you have no right to be angry and not because I want you to be submissive and sit quietly in the corner. Just because in fact it’s not people’s “straightness” that is the issue, it’s their intolerance/lack of education/hatefulness/fill-in-the-blank. I think that in order to address an issue, we need to first identify it correctly…

    I realize that it’s easier to make blanket statements because the awful experiences probably do all add up until you reach a point where all straight people seem awful. But when you say that straight people suck, you are in fact placing blame on people for something they have no control over. Not likely to be helpful to anyone, because I can no more change my sexual orientation/gender identity than you can. Know what I mean?

    I believe that this kind of talk builds walls… someone who might otherwise be curious/sympathetic might not want to ask more questions or get involved if there’s this kind of “what do you know about my struggles, you’re straight anyway” vibe.

    I’m guessing this might sound like a “hush, don’t tick off potential allies” lecture to you, but I hope you won’t want to read it that way.

    I’d love to hear back from you.

    • fliponymous says:

      No one who says “straight people suck” is saying that “straight people suck because they are straight”.

      Even the *mildest* criticism of people who are straight, though, brings these kinds of things out of the woodwork, though. “This kind of talk builds walls.”

      You know what builds walls? People who claim to be Allies but turn around and slag off bisexuals, or trans*folk, and when called on it say “Why are you being such a jerk! I’m not going to support you anymore if you’re going to be so mean!”

      People who gleefully work to set up an Ally Appreciation Week, but have 1 day set aside for Trans*gender and one day set aside for Bisexuality (and spend half of that damned day prattling about how *even though they are straight* there needs to be room made for Pansexuality as a separate identity because bisexuality is only about cisgender and *if they weren’t straight* they would believe in “hearts not parts”), and then get pissed off when you suggest, not even SAY but just suggest that maybe it’s not actually supposed to be all about them all the f*ing time.

      You know what builds walls? When you show any emotion other than fawning gratitude for even the tiniest succor, and get told “Oh, your anger is misdirected, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, what are you mad at me for?”
      Read the article again, because if you are “bristling” when someone says “straight people suck” then you utterly missed a couple pretty crucial lines.
      Do that, really absorb it, and then ask yourself why I could NOT read what you wrote as anything but “Hey, calm down, you don’t want to piss off potential allies”.

      I will not calm down. And if you are the phenomenal ally that you claim to be (and which I have no doubt you are) you’ll see that I’m simply asking you to understand that as an Ally, it is *not* *your* *comfort* that always comes =first=. That if you cannot accept a queer person getting pissed off now and then, and maybe making a blanket statement about people similar to you, is *not* making a judgement that your sexual orientation is wrong or vile or ungodly or deserving of death and damnnation.
      You told me that my anger was misdirected because I’m “not identifying the problem” properly. And twisted MY words to make the claim that somehow I think there is something wrong with *being straight*. We *can* talk, but not until you STOP telling me to CALM DOWN.

      • fliponymous says:

        Now, keep this in mind: however you are feeling about what I just said.

        That was ANNOYANCE. That wasn’t even *close* to actual anger.

        So if that was building a wall and not being nice, consider this: why is it important to *you* that I be denied *any* expression of emotion that doesn’t directly lead to your comfort?

        • E. says:

          Well… I’m sorry to see you did take my reply as an attack. Am I correct in my assumption that anything other than complete agreement with your article will be seen as telling you to calm down? Because I was in fact not telling you to calm down. I also didn’t say you couldn’t express any emotions that might be uncomfortable for me.

          All I was saying was that my “straightness” in and of itself shouldn’t be the thing that annoys or angers you… because it isn’t something I can control. Now, if you want to tell me that I’m ignorant or a bigot or mean, then by all means go for it… But please base it on what I said*, not on what you read into my words based on my sexual orientation, or based on what *other* people have said or done. I’m not asking you to be “nice,” just fair.

          * I did not, for example, claim to be a phenomenal ally… That judgment isn’t mine to make, is it?

          • E. says:

            Oh hang on… Actually let me backtrack on one issue… I’m not even asking you to be fair, because you don’t owe me anything. But, well, it would be nice if you could try to see me as a person, not part of a blob of straight people :) Now back to making dinner. I really am sorry I annoyed you.

            • fliponymous says:

              Don’t be “sorry” for annoying me. Engage in a real conversation.

              Why are you so personally threatened by even the mildest criticism of straight people *as representatives of a dominant culture that requires marginalized populations to put your feelings ahead of ours every single damned time*? Why do you think I am seeing you, personally, as part of some undifferentiated blob of straightness, and that my problem with said blob has to do with their orientation rather than their place at the top of the societal hierarchy?

              You say that you didn’t tell me to calm down. But you misinterpreted my words into prejudice against the majority sexual orientation on the grounds of that orientation, and then backed away like my irritation with that means that I’m so radical and angry that you can’t talk to me because I’m going to fly off the handle.

              After telling me that even mild criticism is “building walls”.

              WTF? Please: read the article again and really process what it is that I am saying here.

          • fliponymous says:

            Here’s the part you’re not getting, E.

            I do not have a problem with you based on your sexual orientation.

            When a queer person says something negative about straight people, it’s not because there is something wrong with their being straight.

            It’s that there is a problem with the dominant culture.

            But you keep trying to make me into a bigot who has a problem with *you*, not because of anything you have done, but because of who you prefer to snog.

            Do you see the problem with that?

            • E. says:

              “because of who you prefer to snog”… oooh, did that make you feel good? See, you just confirmed what I said up there… you are having issues with my straightness, not with someone else’s rudeness. When did you decide to become bi? Because I don’t remember the day I decided to become straight. Seriously. If it’s that easy, why don’t you just change “who you prefer to snog”… come on over to the straight side. You’ll fit right in with all of those bigots you hate so much.

              • fliponymous says:

                Can everyone see the strawman here? I said “But you keep trying to make me into a bigot who has a problem with *you*, not because of anything you have done, but because of who you prefer to snog.”

                And E flips that exactly backwards.

                And paints me as a bigot. Because I said “You are claiming that I have a problem with who you prefer to snog.”

                These are the “Allies” that people tell me I can’t possibly say anything about because they’ll “quit being Allies.”

  6. judyt54 says:

    one other way to look at that, too; sometimes when someone gets annoyed with a person of a) color, b) specific gender, or c) orientation, its not about a) b) or c) at all. It’s because that person, regardless of color, specific gender, or orientation, is being a prick. It happens. But what then happens, is that either that annoying person chooses to see the argument as RELATED to a)b) or c) or someone else does, and interprets it that way, and the battle is on. So it can be aboiut perception (“Ma he hit me because Im a girl”), rightly or wrongly (“Melissa, you were pestering him. Stop whining”) from the other side.
    So in addition to (or not) being a possible problem with, of, or about a dominant culture, it can indeed be personal and way way deeper than skin color, gender, or orientation, none of which we can do much about. Prick-ism is another story. =)

  7. Adreanna says:

    There is a lot of pain in that article. There’s a lot of anger. There are a lot of points that I agree with and a lot of points that I don’t. And there is one point that scares me.

    You stated, in bold, the following words: “I cannot harm you.”
    That’s what scares me.
    Because whether I am straight, bi, asexual; whether I am european or asian or african; whether I am rich or poor; male or female; or even if I am none of the above… you can always hurt me. And as soon as you start assuming that you can’t you have no reason to try not to.
    By all means tell me that I’ve hurt you, or that others like me have hurt you, but please don’t tell me that you could never hurt me back. Please don’t tell me that the pain I feel isn’t real.

    • fliponymous says:

      Thanks for the comment. Let me clarify. When I say “I cannot harm you”, what I am saying is that nothing I say can marginalize you. Certainly I could say things that cause you personal harm if I am saying things personally about you — but if I am saying something general, *that does not apply to you*, it can’t cause more than momentary discomfort.

      • fliponymous says:

        Or, to be more clear: nothing negative that a queer person says about straight people in general can cause any damage to straight people on a societal level.

        The converse is not true.

        • Katie says:

          yes but on a human level you should care that you are addressing straight people personally and not the societal norms that we are all currently living under. Just because society at the moment values straight white males over all others does not give every one else a free pass to take our anger out on them. We should work towards educating these people of their privilege and showing them how they can help us with our struggles to be accepted in society. There should be mutual respect for our allies yeah they don’t know how it is to be Bi in this society and they never will.But they won’t be interested in finding out if all you bring to the table is your anger.

          • fliponymous says:

            Wow. So you are saying that queer people are never, ever allowed to display anger or frustration if it might make some straight people the slightest bit uncomfortable, even for a moment.

            See, needing to vent is not “showing disrespect for our allies.” It;s being a human being in pain.

            • Katie says:

              I didn’t say that.
              ” It;s being a human being in pain. ..

              People display frustration every day and it is natural .. but directing your anger at a general group when only a specific group / section are causing the problem is the issue I have.
              Yeah scream about the fact those people where assholes but the fact they are straight is not what makes them ass holes.

              • fliponymous says:

                No… and no one is saying that it is. If I as a white person hear a person of color say something negative about “white people”, would it be reasonable for me to assume that the problem they are complaining about has anything to do with the actual melanin content of anyone’s skin in general and mine in particular? Of course not. It’s about the dominant/oppressed dynamic.

                Your issue is saying that no matter what happens, I dare not say anything in public that any straight person might be able to take personally, as far as I can tell.

                • Katie says:

                  No… and no one is saying that it is. If I as a white person hear a person of color say something negative about “white people”, would it be reasonable for me to assume that the problem they are complaining about has anything to do with the actual melanin content of anyone’s skin in general and mine in particular? Of course not. It’s about the dominant/oppressed dynamic.

                  It is not that obvious if it were your straight allies would not be getting offended.
                  I do understand now what you are saying but I still do not agree with it. I also do not agree with the above statement either but that is a whole other bag of cats that I’m not about to open.

                  Your issue is saying that no matter what happens, I dare not say anything in public that any straight person might be able to take personally, as far as I can tell.

                  No I said you should scream to hight heavens about the system and the people who are supporting the system. But lobbing all of your allies in to the same group with a general statement like ‘many straight people’ is going to alienate some or all of them. Which if that isn’t an issue for you, well no problem then.

  8. fergalmonster says:

    Hey, (I’m a straight white male, not sure why that is important but I feel I should say it)
    So anyway I read your article and I really liked it. I am naturally someone who tries to write from a center of understanding and reasonableness. This approach can lack strength as it tries to establish a common ground and tries to respect the other person as much as possible, as long as they are attempting to engage with the conversation. As such I tend to find articles that are very aggressive disjointing to read, but this is not about me.

    You write well, you show that you are an emotive person who has to face hardship because of who you are, while at the same time putting forward a reasoned and well written argument, It shows that you are both a real person with feelings and an intelligent person who can be logical.

    There were times where I disagreed with how you said something or whatever, but that was not important. The fact was that reading your article felt like a conversation, and not an argument, or a shouting match. I just wish I had something more meaningful to contribute than I liked it, and I think you are a good writer.

    Thank you for the conversation,
    Fergal Monster

    • fliponymous says:

      Hey Fergal, thanks. Please chip in on any conversations here that interest you. Disagreement isn’t a problem as long as both parties are willing to honestly engage.

      • fergalmonster says:

        Hey Flip, (it seems like the logical contraction of your username, if you have a different preferred one let me know)

        The main thing I notice in the comments are people who mostly agree or people who take issue with the core point.

        My view on it is this. If you want to challenge people’s thoughts you need a certain amount of teeth and power to break through. However a lot of writers use more teeth than is necessary and can come off as being overly inflammatory. I notice it a lot in people’s openings even when they continue on to make some good points. “Dear Straight People” is one of those styles of openings that is designed to catch attention. (Though much less patronising than others in the follow-up, some treat the ‘Ally’ as though they are a second class of readership.)

        The opening is directed at a huge group of people and a lot of those people already understand but a lot of others should hear the message too. It is the unfortunate nature of the medium that starting a blog post like a real life conversation or even a lecture, probably means it won’t get read. The “fire” of raw emotion is interesting to read and grabs people’s attention but can often succeed only in preaching to the choir as it were. It often doesn’t change people’s ideas, but instead strengthens pre-existing ones. (Which can be important from time to time) The “cold” of logic, reason and understanding can bring people around but by itself tends to seem weak, apologetic or at the very least uninteresting and safe. It doesn’t drag people in the way fire does. Combining these two is hugely important and hard to do. Most people will go more one way or the other. I myself am probably drawn too much towards the “cold”.

        Personally I think that saying (insert group here) sucks is not usually an appropriate response, but it is often an understandable one, especially for a group that is marginalised by the majority on a legal and societal level. The important thing I noticed was that you did not seem to be saying that the response was appropriate. You said that the response was understandable, and that taking offence to it is much less understandable or appropriate, and I agree with that.

        As someone who is within acceptable bounds of “normal” on most things I have a privileged position. I mean I am not on the higher levels of the class system but I am not the target of the main prejudices of society. I have been prejudiced against in my life but not in the much more severe ways that are common place in our society. It’s easy for me to find spaces to express myself safely in. I don’t have to hide a large of who I am in my spare time, or worry if I am fitting someone else’s ideas of who I should be.

        The important thing about responding with “Majority Group Sucks” is that the majority group should be able to take it. Does that make it okay? Not exactly, but it’s not going to help if people call you on it when you have been worn down to a point where you react this way. There is a difference between writing an entire article about how straight people suck/are the devil/are one conspiring mass of awful people etc etc and venting some steam with a general. I am angry at society about this comment.

        I am not an important part society, sure I am white and male and straight, but I am not wealthy nor do I have any real power over anyone. The thing that is hard to accept is that I am a member of the powerful part of society. Even if what powerful people do is not my fault and is unrelated to me I am still a member of those groups. As a “privileged” individual I should be able to accept that I will receive blame to some degree for how society works. Accepting this is not easy but it’s still better than what other people have to live through. If I could show solidarity in a more meaningful way I would (without cheapening what other people go through, some people seem to be show support as a weird way of validating themselves, which seems wrong to me) so the least I can do is understand that people are going to be angry about the disparity between our positions., and not get annoyed when they feel frustrated about this. (Obviously I will try to do more than that and endeavour to show people the respect they deserve as human beings and not judge them over things that do not matter to their value as a person.)

        Sorry for the wall of text in what was meant to be a short reply.

        Fergal

  9. Katie says:

    Okay I couldn’t even finish reading your blog.

    Lets talk a bit about generalisations, lots of straight people can be morons. But so can bisexuals I’m not going to go making sweeping generalisiations which might marginalise my friend who are bisexual. Because the morons sexuality is not the issue it is their personality and thankfully I have the common sense to know just because I know a few bad eggs it doesn’t mean the whole bag of bisexuals has gone off .. so to speak.

    “Because God forbid I be angry. Or hurt. Or even disappointed. I mean, I need Allies, right? Wouldn’t want to say anything that might make even one person who casts a vote in my favor decide to stay home this election day.”

    Hey you have every right to be angry….. at the people who caused the micro-agressions not every one else who is supporting you. Yeah vent and let your allies know how you feel but don’t throw your anger in their faces just because some other people have badly represented their sexuality.

    “When a queer person says something negative about straight people, it’s not because there is something wrong with their being straight.

    It’s that there is a problem with the dominant culture.”

    So why would it be so hard for you to make that distinction about dominant culture when you are venting about the ‘straight’ people ?? Do you not see how it can easily be construed when you say ‘straight people suck’ that yeah you think all straight people suck because they are straight. You have not bothered to elaborate on the subject so what else can a reader or listener think ?.

    • fliponymous says:

      If you couldn’t finish, then we really can’t talk, because you missed the point. Sorry. Finish reading, and then we can communicate.

      • Katie says:

        Nice, I brought up some points there on the part I did read yet you’ll ignore that. You also seem to have had to do a lot of clarification in your comments … possibly your message is not as clear as you thought ?

        right reading the rest of it:
        ‘What you are doing when you jump to the defense of all those poor helpless straight people who I am slandering when I (or a friend) says “Many straight people suck” is a classic microaggression. It is ambiguous — there is no single thing I can point to and say “This. This exact phrase caused a problem for me, had evil intent.”

        But here’s what you’re saying.

        You’re saying I either don’t have the right to be angry at all, or that my anger is misdirected’

        No what those people are saying is your statement needs clarification. You have made a VERY simple statement which infers that all straight people suck, not just the bad ones that you are refering to when you are venting. If some one says bisexuals suck I am just as right to get annoyed at that statement as I identify as bisexual and that statement infers that I suck. Words have weight.

        ‘I want you to ask yourself why my statement that can be taken as a diss on straight people is so threatening to you.’
        YOU YES YOU regardless of your sexual Identity has just said that straight people suck so it is a diss on straight people

        ‘Do you think that if my kind ever get our equality recognized, we’ll flip it into superiority and start treating straight people the way that queer people have been treated? (At least one of my friends seems to feel that way.)’
        … Know when we get full equality you won’t have a reason to justify your anger any more.

        ‘See what I’m talking about? For every queer person that says “I hate straight people” there have been a thousand slights and insults and injuries, some of which are huge and life-threatening, and some of which just result in tender tissues that everyone has being painfully scabbed over. A scar from a thousand cuts is still a scar’
        So this is a tit for tat situation ?? .Your anger should be directed at Homophobes or people with biphobia NOT ALL STRAIGHT PEOPLE.

        ‘ Straight is a socially acceptable identity. It is a foundation of security that is used to deny people like me even the basic ontological regard of existence. Nothing, absolutely nothing I can ever say will do anything to rock that foundation in any way, even the slightest. For example: straight is universally recognized as a stable identity — no one looks at a person who identifies as straight and says to them “Well, you’ll get over that one of these days”.

        It is an identity alright it’s primary purpose is not deny every one other identity rights !!
        It is a label nothing more nothing less society values this label more society is at fault, society includes you so yes there is plenty to do to tip the scale.

        My word It shocks me that we are on the same side yet our view points are sooo very polarised.

        • fliponymous says:

          “You have made a VERY simple statement which infers that all straight people suck” — see, my words were “MANY straight people suck”. But you turn that into me saying that ALL straight people suck, and attacking it on that basis. There’s a word for that… what was it again? Oh yeah — *strawman*.

          And that strawman is the basis of your argument. That and denying me the right to ever show any emotion that straight people — not all straight people, but *some* straight people, maybe even =many= straight people — might be made momentarily uncomfortable by.

          So I can only criticize overt homo- and biphobes. Anyone, no matter how damaging they are, who claims to be an ally or even neutral (like you can be neutral about oppression) is off limits for even the mildest acknowledgement that they’re irritating me.

          And way to criticize me for telling you that we can’t communicate if you don;t bother to read the whole thing. This piece is only a quarter of the length of a good portion of my articles and it’s perfectly legitimate to say to you “read the whole thing, then we’ll talk”.

          If someone says “bisexuals suck” they are perpetuating oppression. If someone says “straight people suck” (even if they say “All straight people suck”, which isn’t accurate), they are venting. No straight person is going to kill themselves because teh Queers are oppressing them.

          • Katie says:

            “You have made a VERY simple statement which infers that all straight people suck” — see, my words were “MANY straight people suck”.

            Okay I admit you said MANY that is still a very general statement and you have left the interpretation up to the reader. I feel you shouldn’t be surprised that some straight people might think you are talking about them.

            That and denying me the right to ever show any emotion that straight people — not all straight people, but *some* straight people, maybe even =many= straight people — might be made momentarily uncomfortable by.

            I never once said that you could not show any emotion. WHY are you setting straight people up as an enemy ?? Why do you want to make straight people uncomfortable. Is it you just want them to feel how you do ?? why would you want to do that ? why do you think you should do that ?…. so it’s tit for tat ? If people are already your allies why do you want to make them uncomfortable they are already aware of the inequality and are helping sort it out.

            So I can only criticize overt homo- and biphobes. Anyone, no matter how damaging they are, who claims to be an ally or even neutral (like you can be neutral about oppression) is off limits for even the mildest acknowledgement that they’re irritating me.

            No you should vent about who every is irritating you .. but ‘Many straight people’ is not doing that.

            If someone says “bisexuals suck” they are perpetuating oppression. If someone says “straight people suck” (even if they say “All straight people suck”, which isn’t accurate), they are venting. No straight person is going to kill themselves because teh Queers are oppressing them.

            No straight person is going to kill themselves because the Queers are oppressing them.
            even so why say it ??

            It is simple curtsy to a fellow human being straight gay bi or what ever. just because your statement is not ‘perpetuating oppression’ it doesn’t make it okay either. Again you seem to feel that you have dealt with X amount of crap which means you can now go vent X amount of crap on others.

            Anyways best of luck with your anger.

            • fliponymous says:

              “I feel you shouldn’t be surprised that some straight people might think you are talking about them.” I am not surprised. However, I am dissapoint.

              “WHY are you setting straight people up as an enemy ?? Why do you want to make straight people uncomfortable.” — um, I’m not. You are interpreting it that way in spite of the actual words I said. And it’s not that I *want* to make straight people uncomfortable.

              It;s that I want to not have to make their comfort my overriding priority every damned time no matter how I feel.

              “Anyways best of luck with your anger.” Thanks. Good luck with your passive aggressive anger-shaming.

              • Katie says:

                “I feel you shouldn’t be surprised that some straight people might think you are talking about them.” I am not surprised. However, I am dissapoint.
                Well make a specific statement and they will know that you are not talking about them.

                “WHY are you setting straight people up as an enemy ?? Why do you want to make straight people uncomfortable.” — um, I’m not. You are interpreting it that way in spite of the actual words I said. And it’s not that I *want* to make straight people uncomfortable.
                Actually I was trying to understand your motivation you seem to agree that yes you are making your allies uncomfortable but you shouldn’t have to consider that all the time and I want to know why ? why is it okay to make them uncomfortable ?

                It;s that I want to not have to make their comfort my overriding priority every damned time no matter how I feel.

                Thats the thing I think you have a clear divide in your head us and them straight and others. I see people as people so I don’t ever think I am justified to vent my rage at any one unless they personally have been the ones causing my anger.

                “Anyways best of luck with your anger.” Thanks. Good luck with your passive aggressive anger-shaming.

                I am not being passive aggressive I am honestly wish you well with your anger and hope you find away to work it out. I will say it again being angry is natural. But what you do with that anger is your choice.

                • fliponymous says:

                  “make a specific statement and they will know that you are not talking about them” — in other words, when I am frustrated or angry, be sure to place their comfort ahead of my empowerment, every single time.

                  “why is it okay to make them uncomfortable ?” Why is it *required* that every time I say anything, I must always ensure that it can’t possibly cause discomfort? Ever?

                  “you have a clear divide in your head us and them straight and others” Yup. And you know who drew that divide? Straight people. It wasn’t drawn by all straight people everywhere, but it *wasn’t a queer person* who looked at me and said “You think that a man having sex with a man is OK? Stay away from my children, f****t.”

                  “I see people as people” — I call bullshit, that;s the same as going into a conversation on race by saying ‘I don’t see color’ — “so I don’t ever think I am justified to vent my rage at any one unless they personally have been the ones causing my anger.”

                  Look at this. Seriously. You’ve bought into the idea that marginalized people’s anger about being marginalized is inappropriate. You don’t think that you are justified in being angry about what’s being done to you.

                  That makes me sad.

                  • Katie says:

                    “make a specific statement and they will know that you are not talking about them” — in other words, when I am frustrated or angry, be sure to place their comfort ahead of my empowerment, every single time. Again no it is your choice but if you choose to make a general statement you are probably going to isolate some people and as you have noticed you have. I’m saying you can’t argue both sides you want to vent like that fine but some of your allies may take offense. But if that isn’t am issue for then okay.. but you can’t then get pissed off that your allies don’t react the way you want them to.

                    “why is it okay to make them uncomfortable ?” Why is it *required* that every time I say anything, I must always ensure that it can’t possibly cause discomfort? Ever?
                    As above you don’t have to. I am trying to understand why you want to ?

                    “you have a clear divide in your head us and them straight and others” Yup. And you know who drew that divide? Straight people. It wasn’t drawn by all straight people everywhere, but it *wasn’t a queer person* who looked at me and said “You think that a man having sex with a man is OK? Stay away from my children, f****t.”
                    Right and that was because he is a giant asshole and not anything to do with him being straight.

                    “I see people as people” — I call bullshit, that;s the same as going into a conversation on race by saying ‘I don’t see color’ — “so I don’t ever think I am justified to vent my rage at any one unless they personally have been the ones causing my anger.”
                    Nice dismissal of my view point there. I stand by my words. It is a little more complex when it comes to race as it is a visible trait and sexuality isn’t necessarily. But go ahead compare chalk and cheese. I’ll go into broken record mode again express your anger any way you want but you are making that choice.

                    Look at this. Seriously. You’ve bought into the idea that marginalized people’s anger about being marginalized is inappropriate. You don’t think that you are justified in being angry about what’s being done to you.
                    AGAIN yes if you are marginalised then vent about it, but using ‘many straight people suck’ is not a specific way of saying you are sick of the system that values straight people over queer people and not the straight people themselves specifically… and that is what as far as I can see why your allies are feeling alienated but if you don’t care about that honestly fine it’s your choice.

                    • fliponymous says:

                      Again, what you are telling me is that my choice is: hurt my cause and drive away allies, or choose my words so carefully that no trace of frustration or anger ever comes through unless it’s carefully tuned to let anyone reading it off the hook rather than trusting them to take themselves off the hook.

                      “Be careful, you might piss some people off.”

                      See the next article for more about this, and about the strawmen that you’re arguing against.

  10. This actually made me cry, because I’ve said this to so many people so many times and nobody listens and I feel like I’m going in circles or beating my head against a wall and it helps just a tiny, tiny bit to know that at least I’m not the only one saying it. Not enough, but a little.

  11. Whale Drama says:

    wow! the words “if you were offended, you needed it” re some of the responses.

    and – again – wow! – this sounds a great deal like some of the discussions women had back in the early rounds of the attempts to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

    I do understand the “microaggression” concept – and like it. Still happens in my life – when there is more heat than light in a situation.

    I often wonder how long it will take to change the dominant culture – far too long regardless.
    But I choose to keep going, working to establish other social norms where I can – trusting that each step forward is indeed incremental progress.

  12. judyt54 says:

    White straight woman here again: just a few random thoughts that may or may not skirt much of what has been said, and so eloquently.

    Speaking totally from my own viewpoint, I find it easier to be an ally (or Ally) to the people I know personally in the Gay community, on a one to one basis: I’ve been privileged at one time or another to be friends (and supporter of in one way or another) with someone of nearly every persuasion. It’s as much about them accepting me as *I* am, as the other way around. So for me, at least, it’s a two way street. And perhaps wrongly or rightly, I tend not to see people as “my friend the lesbian” or “my oldest friend online the bi male X” because once again that gives a false and narrow definition of them, and me.

    We are, as individuals, all different. Put a tag on someone and after awhile that’s all anyone can see. Easy, at that point, to ignore the other sterling qualities a man or woman has, and focus on one part. The view becomes distorted, like looking through cloudy glass. On my first trip around the net, I became friends briefly with a woman who defined her other friends as the religion they were. I was the Atheist/Catholic, Sally was the Baptist, Joanne was the Jew. Terry was the Bigot and we were not “allowed” to speak to him.

    Possibly thats why I don’t like/use blanket labels applied to individuals (as in, “oh, you’re just a typical white male chauvinist”, for example) as it forces someone to either defend his comments or attack me, or try to prove that he really isn’t, no matter what I see, and of course then we’re off and rolling.

    And the only thing i’ve been offended by is people who are trying very hard in here to take offense over things not intended for or aimed at them personally.

    This is a fascinating read, Flip. You are, da man.

  13. lindasusan says:

    Dear Straight People:

    If you hear a queer friend using statements like “many straight people suck” and want to be an ally, put any personal hurt to the side (especially since the statement wasn’t aimed at allies anyway) and say this instead: “I’m sorry you’re having a rough day.”

    Leading with empathy – it’s always a winning strategy.

  14. Vonnie says:

    As a person who technically identifies as bisexual is more and more moving towards the idea of ending labels altogether who is neither a member of the straight community nor who really considers herself a member of the queer community since it’s mostly focused on white gay men issues, I have a bit of an in between feeling/perspective.

    I can understand why allies get upset. It’s human nature to feel accused when you are a part of a group and somebody says something negative about that group.

    But there are hard facts in every generalization and some people need to just get over it.

    If a lot of straight people didn’t suck, we wouldn’t need to fight for rights in the first place. If the “gay” movement and “allies” truly cared about equality, they wouldn’t support The Human Rights Campaign and put little equal signs everywhere online when THC was more than willing to toss everybody outside of the gender binary and everybody under the trans* umbrella under the bus, by supporting a bill that would have cut out equal protection under the law for all of them. So frankly, all the “equal” signs are a bunch of garbage. Let’s face it, a whole brick ton of straight people are queerphobic and a whole smack ton of both homo and hetero people are trans and biphobic.

    Frankly, if any of the above offends you, don’t blame me. Blame the group you belong to and start getting as pissed off as I am about it. I will never be calm about injustice or the fact so many people support it. It is in fact the majority of people not a minority. The quicker everybody stops pretending otherwise the quicker things will change. Always saying “but I can’t control I’m hetero, homo, white, privileged, able bodies, neurotypical etc” doesn’t progress anything and if progression isn’t your first concern always no matter how offended you might feel, you are never going to be successful in moving the needle of injustice. History is made by those who make noise.

  15. seshathotep says:

    I whole-heartedly agree with the whole of the article, and the comments from the people who are actually literate and possess critical thinking skills.

    If being confronted with a statement that questions your proudly self-assigned label of “good person” leads you to attack the person who made the statement, then you suck.

    If your self-assigned label of “ally” is more important to you than actually being an ally to people and treating their views as valid and worthy of your time, then you suck.

  16. Mahogany says:

    Hey, I just wanted to say that although I thought I was straight my hole life (I found out I was bi just several months ago) and I have no intentions on changing my gender (I am so very proud of my D-cups see I cannot even leave a comment without them) my best friend ever is going to officially be ‘he’ one day and I already call him what makes him feel good, and I support him in every way I can. But this is not oh-look-how-nice-I-am-for-not-being-a-total-dick-type of comment. I wanted to say my experience with Allies that are not Allies. I have a boyfriend. Straight as an arrow. He met my best friend and also agreed to call him ‘he’ and everything that I told him to do. However, although he means best, I don’t want to talk about my best friend with him anymore because he thinks he knows what the problem is and won’t accept any other version of the story. He simply says that Danny should just calm down and he talks about him with that kind of care that should be reserved for the puppy that had peed itself. He acts as if my best friend was just a mislead child and that he can analyze him and find the problem (as if there were a PROBLEM!) and if my best friend listens to him and does what he says, everything will be okay. Also, when I mentioned that Danny has a boyfriend, he looked at me wide-eyed and asked me: “What? He’s changing his gender and he still likes DUDES?” and that was when I got mad and asked him if there was a problem, and he was all like ‘no, no, surprised me that’s all’. When I read that ‘straight people suck’ think, I don’t think it is more uncalled for than “death to homos, faggots and trans” graffiti that I had displeasure of seeing on some buildings in my town. For months no one bothered to call city’s sanitary organization to cover that up. No one wrote under it “haters, you suck”. And those straight people who claim to be your allies should have covered that up. Because I know a lot of those that are real strong men when it comes to body-built. THOSE lovely straight people, who oh-so-want to help trans-gendered ones, should have covered that up. It shouldn’t have been me, who, despite being strong built myself, really am an only sixteen years old girl with height no more that 162 cm that had to go on the ladders to do the entire job and even then barely managed it. And stupid graffiti is the least of the problems. So, if straight people generally are doing so little, why should trans-people generally be careful of what they say? Why can straight people say “Oh it’s not me who’s hating, those are just some losers, calm down” but same can’t go for trans-gendered? Why does Danny have to EXPLAIN why he wants to change his gender? Why don’t straight people just understand that one’s private parts are one’s private parts, and one can do whatever the hell he wants with it?
    Straight people say that being gay is already an illness and that trans-gender is plain sick. I don’t believe that, because for sickness, there is chance to find a cure. There is no cure for gay or trans, not because that is an illness that can’t be cured, but because the cure isn’t needed. Why is the cure not needed? Because it is not an illness, and cure is not needed when one is not ill. Coming to terms with your sexuality or trans-sexuality is the healthiest thing one can do. And I am not saying that as in ‘oh I understand totally, it is not hard you just need to calm down and everything will be okay’ but as a girl that at first couldn’t believe that she found another girl hot, not because she has something against liking girls but because she liked guys her entire life. The moment I grasped the fact that I am bi, I felt better about myself.
    Straight people say it is unnatural to change your gender or to like people of your own gender. I really don’t think that’s the case with trans, because it simply happened that the private parts and mind don’t go along well. With a risk of sounding like an asshole, I think it is something ‘off’ with liking your own gender in sexual manner (at this point I remind that I myself am half-way to being lesbian) simply because it is in human nature to breed, and it is not possible via to people of same gender. Okay. Again, I myself might end up with a lovely lady as a wive. But, people use that opinion as a clear sign that liking your own gender is wrong. Okay, fine. Sure, it would be a little trouble if there were fifty people left in entire planet and forty of those were lesbian or gay. But we are living on a planet that is OVER POPULATED. More gays or lesbians, less brats and less towns being over populated. So, there is not a single reason for straight people to diss others, but they do, because they don’t understand and their minds are to dull to realize that we are tired of explaining and are due no explanation in the first place. But oh look I blabber as usual. The final thing I want to say is that to some people you can’t explain even if they want to understand, because they cannot understand. I see that clerly in my boyfriend: he WANTS to understand, not for Danny but for me, because he does love me, but he can’t. He is not capable of understanding. And I thing that’s why trans-gender people, and gays and every other form of sexuality, is screwed. And we are screwed.

  17. Pingback: Marginalisation and Anger | Consider the Tea Cosy

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