Thursday, July 1, 2010

July 1, 2010

Recently, Poppets, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about privilege. See, in many ways, I carry a lot of it. I am white; I’m straight; I’m cis-gendered. All of these give me privilege here in the US. Now, because I am aware of my privilege, I try very hard to check it at the door, so to speak, and not abuse it, consciously or unconsciously. This is not to say I’m perfect, but I do try.

So what has me thinking about privilege recently? Because I have also, recently, been living without it, in many ways. For several months, I lived with someone who could’ve asked me to leave at anytime – and I would’ve had to leave. Currently, I get to be where I am “as long as no one complains.” So while the living arrangements are indescribably better, they are still dependant upon others’ approval and acceptance. Let me tell you – the threat of homelessness will change what you do and say mighty quick.

I’ve also been, in case you haven’t put this one together, broke, broke, broke for a few months. Did I mention broke? All my morals and values around shopping locally, not giving my money to certain conglomerates, voting with my wallet as well as my ballot – Gone. Apparently, the ability to do that comes with economic privilege. Who knew? On the one side of the line, even if money is a little tight, it’s important enough that one can easily say well, the prices aren’t that much more here than there and I support the politics here so…and pay the extra dollar or two. But there’s a difference between having enough money or even money being a little tight and being broke, broke, broke. When you are broke, you are on the other side of that line. Having now spent some time there, I have come to realize how lucky, how privileged, I have always been to be able to take that stance, to have economic values.

We as a community are facing a shift in privilege, as well. Quite frankly, if we’re not careful, I believe it could be as divisive as anything else we’ve faced. On one line is the privilege of being safely out. On the other is the knowledge that “safe” and “out” are mutually exclusive.

For members of the community who are safely out, or who are straight allies like me, it’s easy to judge people who remain closeted. I know I have, in the past, been too blasé about encouraging people to come out, without taking their situations into account. After all, it’s a different time now, and it was easy to assume my experience with and knowledge of acceptance would be universal. We have leaders, bloggers, journalists, and activists who feel it is not only acceptable but it is a responsibility to out the closeted. Now, I’m not talking about hypocrites who work to legislate and continue to oppress LGBT people while living secret lives. Suddenly, everyone should be outted, regardless. And this, Poppets, is about privilege. The privilege of the safely out.

Should we live in a world where everyone can come out and be out safely? Absolutely! Must we keep working toward that end? Umm…duh. But we’re not there yet and outing people, regardless of their situation, doesn’t get us there. As much as we’d like it to be otherwise, there are people who are not and can not be out safely. They know their situations better than we do. The safely outted and the straight allies have privilege not everyone has yet. We need to remember that, over here on our side of the line, and yes, check it at the door.

Until next month, Poppets, remember I can be reached at … and take care of you.

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