We’ve all heard it. Whenever an argument comes up about all those human rights denied to us queer (or women, or non-white, or pretty much any other minority), we have all at least once been told we should stop making such a fuss about such a minor thing, with all those other bigger worrying issues there are that actually deserve a fight.
Why bother legalizing gay marriage, when we should really be thinking about all those human rights being violated in North Korea?! Why complain about being cold-propositioned at 4am in an enclosed space in a foreign country, when there’s female genital mutilation going on unpunished on the other side of the world?! Why do you even mention any of that when there are, like, nuclear bombs being built?!
It’s an either/or
argument fallacy: you’re either pro same-sex marriage or you fight for more important human rights. You either find it uncomfortable that a man thinks he’s entitled to sexualize you in an elevator at 4am or you care about those women being mutilated. You’re either a terrible person or you like puppies. It implies that if you find some “smaller” issue unfair, you immediately lose your capacity to empathize with any other “bigger” situation.
This is wrong in so many ways (beyond the fact that it’s an obvious “Shut Up, That’s Why” non-argument, meant to invalidate any real argument and silence the discussion for eternity), that most of the times it’s presented to me, it’s all I can do not to facepalm and give up on humanity.
It just doesn’t work that way, and to suggest it does is incredibly disrespectful. It’s putting perspective on someone’s pain. It’s lacking empathy completely. It’s not having any argument at all, but still disregarding other people’s experiences because, from your privileged view, it doesn’t seem too bad. It’s deeming us not important enough. It’s saying we don’t matter as much. And mainly, it’s trying to stop people who do not harm you from being given rights that do not concern you, just because you’re so afraid of diversity, blinded by all kinds of privileges and prejudices, you think we should conform (and sometimes force us to).
There will always be some bigger issue. Last time I checked, though, we humans were still able to fight multiple fights at once. That’s how we make allies, really. The skeptic movement, the feminist movement, the LGBTQ movement, they are not isolated little groups fighting for their specific causes. We overlap, we try to broaden our discussions (well, at least some of us do). And though we do focus on the issues that afflict us more immediately, that does not mean we’re unaware of every other one. It means only we try to deal with the crap we get first, so we can stand up strong to take part in any other fights we think fair. The “smaller” and the “bigger” issues essentially come from the same place, and that’s what we all need to address; whatever the dimension, they will always be as harmful as the hatred that generates them.
And hopefully, Queereka will be safer than that. If someone wants to invalidate us, well, then they’d better bring on some real arguments.