I decided to write “I Want to Be Free” because I wanted to help people understand why June is essential to the Alphabet Army. But I realise that in doing so, I probably held back on how I truly feel about the things most of us go through daily.
One of the biggest things that grind my gears is most homophobes using the argument, “Why do you need an entire month to shove your sexuality in our faces?” But here’s the thing, no one is pushing anything in your face. Not only are we trying to live our lives to the fullest, but we have just as much of a right to live it the way we want to, just as you do. I don’t mean to put the Straights™ on blast, but have you ever considered how privileged most of you are? While most claim that they don’t enjoy someone’s sexuality being pushed into their faces, we’ve all grown up with heterosexuality “unknowingly” being pushed into ours – TV Shows, Music, Movies, and even the Gendered Clothing parents buy for their kids.
Don’t Stop Me Now!
Why do I bring that up? One of the most popular arguments revolves around children. “Children don’t need to see two men/women kissing in cartoons”. HAVE YOU SEEN THE MOVIES WE’VE GROWN UP WATCHING? Every Disney movie we’ve watched has a prince kissing his princess – one or two of which could have very well been considered Non-Consensual (Sleeping Beauty and Snow White). In fact, in The Little Mermaid, we even see Ariel go to great lengths to do whatever she can to win the affection of the “Man of her dreams”. And if this isn’t pushing sexuality into a child’s face, then what is?
But when “Finding Dory” came out in 2016, many people lost their minds over the “Blink-and-miss-it” appearance of two women with a baby carriage. Sure, one of them sported a short hairdo, and they seemed to be together. However, Disney neither confirmed nor denied whether these two were truly together. Think about it – no kisses, no holding hands, no confirmation from Disney, nothing. Yet somehow, these two barely-there characters were even more problematic than some “Prince Charming” non-consensually kissing an unconscious woman.
How is it any different than watching two queer individuals share an affectionate kiss? How is queer love any different than what children see around them already? And why should we have to hide that? The Straights™ sure as hell don’t have to. Not only is this kind of mentality dangerous for many queers in the community, but this will also harmfully affect closeted young queers who already deal with having to conceal their sexual identity. And while we are talking about how unnecessary this is for children, maybe we need to teach them what consent is rather than telling them how dangerous queers folx are. One of those things is a necessity because it truly does get dangerous the older we get.
So, while the argument may look like it’s coming from a place of love and care, it isn’t. If they were concerned about the children, we would’ve had this conversation a long time ago. Most Disney movies have been around since the 90s, and while the original fairy tales might have been far more disturbing, sexuality is sexuality. It doesn’t matter if it is hetero or homo, especially in a time and age where a safe space is needed more than ever. While many often times say that the queer community is doing everything they can to push their sexuality in their faces, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
But enough about homosexuality being dangerous “for the children”. Let’s talk about something that IS dangerous, shall we?
Another argument revolving around this conversation comes to light due to the recent Texas School Shooting. You’d have thought that a country so prone to Gun Violence would finally wise up and ban the one thing causing said issue. But guess what they tried banning instead? Drag Queens. This shooting resulted in 19 children and 2 adults dying, and the suspect was an 18-year-old heterosexual adult. Sure, he was legally an adult, and sure he probably had “issues” growing up. But under what circumstances were his actions justified? And how does this not make the state question their gun laws?
You’ve probably noticed that I mentioned the suspect’s sexuality while discussing this VERY serious issue. And it feels off, doesn’t it? But I think it is essential to specifically point out the shooter’s sexuality. Why? Because instead of tackling the situation head-on, AS THEY SHOULD, the people responsible decided to handle this, in my opinion, terribly. These people lost their lives because of a cis white man, not a drag queen. Yet, somehow, the drag queens are what’s dangerous for the children of Texas. And this is what Texas State Rep. Brian Slaton had to say:
“Drag shows are no place for a child,” Slaton wrote on Twitter.
A Little Respect
And this is one of the many allegations the community has had to deal with. A lot of this has to do with the misrepresentation of the community in popular media. How? Because most people consume information (trivial mostly) through these mediums. So, if someone is clueless about the alphabet army or has terrible pre-conceived notions, these platforms definitely push them in the wrong direction. And if you think this is an exaggeration, let’s look at a few examples from popular movies.
- Buffalo Bill/Jame Gumb – The Silence of the Lambs
For anyone living under a rock, this 1991 movie is a classic for several reasons. However, this Hannibal Lector masterpiece got one thing terribly wrong. Hannibal has to help look for a serial killer named Buffalo Bill – who kills women and skins them. Spine-chilling, right?
But here’s the kicker. We later find out that Buffalo Bill is actually Jame Gumb, and wasn’t allowed to have a sex-change operation. And, seeing how many view the trans community differently (violent tendencies), the obvious choice was to showcase this particular character dealing with rejection violently. Jame decides to hunt down, murder and skin plus-sized women to create a woman suit for himself.
And that is exactly what a trans individual would do, right?
2. Norman Bates – Psycho
Here is another example of movies portraying the trans community in a bad light. And just so I’m clear, Norman isn’t necessarily a queer individual in this Slasher classic. However, that isn’t the focus of the movie. Bates, as later revealed, would dress up as his deceased mother and murder every woman that stepped foot in his motel.
While the protagonist is mentally ill, this movie seems to have somehow bought forth a lot of negative attention towards the trans community. And while they managed to do all of this without mentioning gender, gender roles (especially when it comes to Norman and his split personalities) definitely blurred the line. Notice how this is another example of a violent trans character in two Thriller/Slasher movies?
3. Ricki – Gigli
This movie doesn’t really have the best reviews, and in my honest opinion, it’s well deserved. But I digress. Gigli is a story that could very well be a real-life situation many lesbians go through or have gone through in the past. Jennifer Lopez’s character (a lesbian) has to overlook an operation involving Ben Affleck’s (a heterosexual man) character.
Ben Affleck keeps hitting on Jennifer Lopez, and in the process, they somehow end up sleeping together. In fact, the movie ends with the both of them “riding into the sunset”. Not only does this add fuel to the entire “I can turn you straight” conversation, but it also undermines the Lesbian community while also putting them right on a predatory straight man’s radar (as if that wasn’t already the case).
4. Catherine Trammel – Basic Instinct
Basic Instinct pretty much gave the world a close-up of Sharon Stone’s nether region, and America turned it into a guessing game. But once you figure out whether she has undies on, you will finally be able to look at the big picture. Catherine Trammel is the Bisexual protagonist and is portrayed like most people assume bisexual women are: Obsessive and Non-committal. Not only was this sex-crazed violent, murderous psychopath willing to bed anyone she came across, but she was willing to pleasure another woman sexually while a man simply watched. Just like every FMF fantasy out there.
You Make Me Feel Mighty Real
I can go on and on about the terrible representation the queer community has to deal with. But this isn’t it. Many Straights™ (individuals and organisations) use lingo that people associate with the Blacks and Queers. And regardless of how harmless this sounds, it’s ridiculous how they’d rather use terms exclusive to us but aren’t willing to allow us the basic right to exist. What does that say about them?
But I digress. My favourite part of being a Non-Binary, Bisexual individual is that my sexual orientation and preference is an unnecessary issue or a fad to various heterosexual individuals. And while most of them would use the usual excuse of “this wasn’t a thing until recently”, I don’t agree with that. Sure, you may not have heard of it before. Hey, I just figured it out recently as well. But since last year, it feels like I’ve crawled right back into the closet. Yes, I use They/Them pronouns, and a few people in my life have successfully recognized this change. But I’ve also tried hiding and protecting this part of myself, just so I don’t have to explain it to certain people.
Yes, not everyone needs to know about our sexual orientation or preferences. So, why do Straights™ say things like – “This baby will grow up to be a heartbreaker.” Or “Blue is for boys and Pink is for girls”. If gender, pronouns, and sexual orientation were never essential, why does it only apply to Queer folx? I believe it is important for some of us. It allows us to live our truth and life to the fullest.
I know I sound like a broken record, but the fact that we’re in 2022 and we still have to fight for the basic right of hygiene, a safe space, the right to donate blood, the right to get married, or even adopt. All of these things seem so non-consequential for a heterosexual individual. However, some of us don’t have the luxury to enjoy the simpler things in life. And that is exactly why we celebrate Pride Month. June reminds us of what started this journey, how far we’ve come, and what more is left to conquer. It reminds us that we deserve the right to exist, love, and do what we want to without anyone judging or stopping us. It reminds us that we matter.
What does Pride Month symbolise for you? Let me know.
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