Actor Josh Hutcherson recently won GLAAD’s Vanguard Award. This award is presented to entertainers who have made significant contributions to the promotion of LGBT equality. Hutcherson, who was in a little movie you may have heard about called The Hunger Games, won the award for his work with the Straight But Not Narrow campaign.
I’m so sick of saying the words “gay” and “lesbian”—like, just people.I’m so tired of that. One day I want my son to come home from school and be like, “I found this guy and I love him!” and I’m going to be like, “Yes, you do, and that’s okay!” Like, you know, I so want that.
Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but this annoys me to no end.
Members of a privileged class talking about how they are so annoyed with words used by oppressed people to describe their identities does not give me much confidence in the privileged person’s status as an ally. When you seek to erase these words, you are seeking to erase people’s identities and experiences.
I do not understand this drive to erase difference. I thrive on difference and diversity. I don’t want there to be no more differences between people. Difference is a good thing!
More to the point, not all queer people want these identity markers to be erased—and it is quite presumptuous to assume that we do. These are the same sorts of things we hear when people believe we are in or should be in post-racial and postfeminist times. These assertions usually come from people not of the oppressed groups. Part of being an ally means accepting the ways that oppressed peoples talk about themselves. This means not being annoyed or sickened by the words people use to identify themselves.
My suggestion to those who wish to be allies: accept our differences, and don’t try to erase our identities by making us more like you. And Josh, we are already in times where your son can come home and you can be happy about him falling in love with whoever he wants. And it won’t require you rejecting whatever words he might use to describe his identity.