I am an Ally for many different causes. Frequently these seem to cause some sort of trouble for either myself of my family. Now I know my immediate family (husband/kids) don’t really sweat it, but sometimes it has some interesting consequences–particularly with our extended family.
Some people wear their feelings on their sleeves… I wear mine as buttons and patches on my purse. With the exception of the lavender bespectacled unicorn in the center (with “Haters gonna Hate” embroidered below) every patch and button has been hand-selected and added by me. I bought the bag (with the unicorn on it) from Etsy a few years ago, and then just started adding things on.
The front is pretty self-explanatory, though a couple of the patches are a tiny bit obscure. My personal favorites are the “do no harm but take no shit” button towards the bottom center, and the “feminist killjoy” patch to the left of the unicorn.
Now, by placing these patches and buttons onto my purse, I have made something of a social contract. I understand that when I visibly wear something that declares a like or a dislike for something, I am implicitly allowing people to ask me about it. Most of the time I get people telling me they “love my purse,” or “did you sew all those on yourself?” But every once in a while, someone finds something they might not agree with—and now it’s awkward.
Let’s start small. I once had a lively discussion on the juxtaposition of the Star Trek command badge with the floral Vader patch. After I pointed out that I also had a Galaxy Quest mission patch, a Tyrell corporation patch (not shown) and Browncoat patch (also not shown), we agreed it was ok to put the two franchises next to each other because I was being all inclusive.
Speaking of all-inclusive…. that brings me to my point. You might also see that I have several buttons that out me as an LGTBQ Ally. On one occasion, this prompted a “what are you a queer?” from a perfect stranger (to which I responded, “oh, I’m sorry, I’m already married,” and smiled sweetly before continuing, “but I’m sure you’ll find someone lovely.” I have also had people who know me a little better—and know that I am married someone of the opposite sex—ask me if there’s a particular reason why I might be an advocate equal rights.
Let me lay it out for you. It’s honestly none of your business why I support equal rights, if indeed I have one at all. Is it necessary to have a child who identifies as something other than heteronormative in order to support rights for all? Are you asking me my orientation? Would it matter if I said I was bi? or gender non-conformative? Should it? Is that ANY of your business? Because it’s not. WHY do you think I need a reason to be a decent human being?
There’s this great passage from Rose Madder where Rosie asks Anna why Anna’s parent founded Daughters and Sisters, the secure shelter where Rosie is staying. And Anna hands Rosie a Paul Sheldon Misery novel, and says:
Bodice-rippers are one of my secret vices… but they’re trash, and do you know why? Because the whole round world is explained in them. There are reasons for everytyhing. They may be as farfetched as the stories in the supermarket tabloids and thye may run counter to everything a halfway intelligent person understanda bout how peopel behave in real life, but they’re there…In life, Rosie, sometimes people do things, both bad and good, just-because.
I don’t need a reason to be a thoughtful human being, any more than some jerk has a reason for being an asshole. Sometimes people are good (or bad) just because. I wear my allyship on my purse so that people who might need help can see where to turn. I put my Ally sign on my cube door, so people who need help understand that I am a safe place and I will listen, not judge, and help them. And you had better hope that I don’t see you being a jerk to someone (based on their orientation or otherwise) because I. Will. End. You.
Here’s the thing. sexual orientation is just one small part of a whole human being, and I feel that to discriminate against people for something that is (honestly) not something that the public should know/care about. Now, if that person chooses to make their orientation known AND part of their persona, I’m all for it, too. But it should not be a defining point on which human rights are granted or taken away. This is a horrendously complex thing that involves an infinite continuum of:
- biological sex (the parts you get at birth)
- gender identity (pronouns)
- sexual orientation (who you are attracted to) — which can include asexual
- romantic orientation (who you want a long relationship with)
- sexual behavior (not preference, but BEHAVIOR)
- gender roles (what society expects)
Here watch this:
To a lot of people…it’s easy to imagine that human beings are simple, and you can know a person’s sex, and then you will know all sorts of things about them deeply and clearly. And if you don’t fit into this nice little box, people who do can get really confused and sometimes even angry…
[people should understand that] there are no nice shiney boxes, or if there are shiney boxes, there are an infinite number of them. Enough to put all of the people who currently exist, have ever existed, and will ever exit.
I guess what I’m trying to say is… it’s none of [our] business.
And now because you have that wonderful song from 1993 in your head…