Sunday, May 17, 2015

"Because I'm Not"

I've heard a lot of straight people say that they don't want to do certain things because people might think they're gay. When I've asked them what's wrong with being gay, or when I've pointed out that there's nothing wrong with being gay, they would claim that they don't think there's anything wrong with being gay, they just don't want people to think that about them because it's not true. I hear this most often when it comes to being gay, but I've also heard people say, "I don't want people to think I'm autistic," "I don't want people to think I have ADHD," and a number of other things that they deem undesirable. I've heard guys say that they don't want people to think they do something that's "just for girls." I've had long conversations about this, where I'd keep saying, "But what would be wrong with that?" and the people would just keep insisting that they have nothing at all against people who are that way, but they simply don't want anyone to think that about them because it's not true.

Okay, imagine that you and your friend share a locker at school. Your friend is heading back to your locker and you ask her if while she's there, she could drop off your chemistry book for you. Your friend exclaims, "I can't carry a chemistry textbook in public! People might think I take chemistry!"
You ask your friend, "What would be wrong with that?"
Your friend simply replies, "Because I don't."
Would this make any sense to you? Would you believe that your friend really just doesn't want anyone to mistake her for a chemistry student because they would be misinformed? Or does your friend clearly think that being a chemistry student is undesirable?

I've heard people use the excuse that they don't want anyone to think they're gay because people of the opposite gender might not approach them. So, what if your friend's explanation was that she didn't want anyone to run up to her and start asking about chemistry when she didn't know anything about it? Would you believe her? Or would you wonder why she couldn't just tell people that she didn't actually take chemistry? In any case, if someone reacted this way about carrying your book through the hall, you would know that they thought something was wrong with taking that subject.

I learned this from talking to my friends about how much I hate it when people assume that I'm a goody-goody, a good hardworking citizen, someone who follows the rules and respects authority, or a mature and responsible adult. For a long time, I kept giving everyone the reason of, "Because I'm not," but really, it's because I despise all of those things that I don't want people to see me that way.

If you're part of a marginalized group and you hate it when people assume you're in the privileged majority because that's what people assume about everyone, that is totally understandable. But if you're part of the privileged group and don't want someone to think you're part of the marginalized group, then you clearly consider that trait to be undesirable. 

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