On Safety

Hey guys.  I hope you all had a spectacular holiday season, that your New Year’s celebrations or shenanigans were awesome and safe and wonderful, and more importantly, that you’re excited for another year of Gay Girl Advice!

Anyway I was thinking about what to write for y’all and I have also been oot’n’aboot doing things like socializing and watching football games, which is weird because I pretty much don’t actually care about football.

Saturday night was one of those nights, and it was really great because I spent time with some cool humans, the team we were all cheering for won, and they made delicious food and it was a super good time.  They live on the opposite side of town from me, which isn’t a big deal, I grew up here so I know my way around.

I got followed home.  And not by a cop, and not by someone I knew.  I mean legitimately followed by some probably super-creepy person and it was the single most uncomfortable experience I’ve had in a very, very long time.  I decided to tell you how to tell when someone is following you, and what to do if it happens, because safety is a really important thing.

1. DO NOT GO STRAIGHT HOME Oh my god, if you’re being followed do not lead that person to the place you live.  I realize this is common-sense kind of, but it’s also really really way super vital that you don’t go home.  If they know what building or area you live in, that could get really bad really quickly, and that is not something anyone should ever have happen.

2. Go straight to a gas station or 24-hour restaurant.  This is one instance where going to Denny’s may actually save your life.  Go to a place that has lights and has people, because some creeper tailing you isn’t trying to meet up for a social engagement, they’re more likely hoping you go somewhere dark and quiet to hide.  Don’t do that.  Be as ostentatious as possible in your choice of destination.

3. Be aware of other vehicles when driving.  I don’t mean this in a “pay attention to other cars so you don’t hit them” way, because I assume that’s what almost everyone does when driving anyway.  The only reason I noticed this truck following me is that they were tailgating me for a good 3-4 miles.  Yes.  Miles.  It’s irritating at first to have big-ass truck headlights in your rear view mirror, and then when it doesn’t change and they don’t pass you even when they have room, it gets weird.  Headlights on cars come in a couple different shapes, and if you pay close enough attention (or are a car dork like me), you can usually tell them apart.

4. Get a vehicle description.  Some information is better than no information.  If you can tell someone that it was a large vehicle, what color it was, a make/model or other distinguishing features, that’s great.  License plate numbers are usually really difficult to see at night, plus they’re hard to remember outright, but a general description of the vehicle following you is a great start.

5. Call someone and tell them what is happening.  Fortunately for me, I was able to call my girlfriend and tell her what was up, and what area of town I was driving in.  If you can tell at least one person that you’re being followed and the general area, that narrows things down if law enforcement has to get involved.

6. Call the cops.  If you think you’re genuinely being followed, and it’s freaking you out, don’t stop your car and ask that person why they’re following you.  Call 911 and tell them something is wrong – that’s what they’re there for.  If you can’t get an officer to respond, tell the operator the kind of car you’re driving and your license plate number, and where you are.  Tell them anything you can that identifies the vehicle following you.  If nothing else, it makes the police more aware of something that could be a chronic issue in your area.

 

I know that these seem really obvious guys, I do, but please consider your personal safety to be of the utmost importance.  I know we all like to be the intimidating hero, and that’s well and good up to a point.  For me, I keep a baseball bat in the back seat of my car in case zombies appear I feel I need to defend myself.  But when I’m being followed by a strange person in a strange vehicle, I’m not going to try to go hand-to-hand with that person.  Furthermore, they might even have a gun, and I’m sure as shit not going to try to tangle with that.

I was lucky, because the truck following me peeled off when they saw me hang up with my girlfriend and get ready to make another phone call.  I’m glad that blue glowing screen scared them.

It’s crossed my mind that whoever was following me wasn’t particularly malicious and didn’t intend to harm me.  Apparently it’s a thing that some bored humans do on occasion.  If this is your hobby, grow the fuck up.  We live in a world full of enough bad shit, nobody needs to have panic issues in their own neighborhood because you can’t think of something better to do with your time and gas.

You all have the right to feel safe, but you also have the right to BE safe.  Keep that in mind as 2013 continues to unfold for you.  I wish all of you nothing but the best of luck in this new year.


Gay Family and the Holidays

This is going to be a combo rant-advice time, which I realize might frighten some of you.  Sit down, things are gonna get intense.

The holidays (Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Solstice, etc.) are generally celebrated by gathering with family.  In most cases, this means biological family, which means seeing people you only see kind of rarely.

This, for me, was the first Thanksgiving where I was not living with my parents, so I got to stop by casually to see everyone.  Another fun fact: I have a staunchly conservative, Catholic grandmother who is somewhere in her eighties.  I’m not out to her.  I made the choice not to come out to her after I saw “defend marriage!” and “we hate abortion” flyers in her car a few years ago.  It just seemed like the responsible thing to do.

I have learned, over the years, how to deal with the grandma questions.  You know the type – the ones about relationships and marriage and children and crap.  For instance, my first Christmas home from college we were all in our pajamas and eating chocolate on Christmas morning, and apropos of literally nothing, my grandma turned and said, “So, do you have any special boy in your life?”  Super-amazing deflection response: “No, grandma, I’m really busy and haven’t thought about it.”

Two years later for Christmas I got a really nice box of silverware, but it had a card that was basically like, “Just in case I die before it happens, here’s your wedding present!”  Really uncomfortable; I said thanks and we’ve never talked about it.

Fast-forward to Thanksgiving 2012, greeting everybody and saying my hellos as a visiting family member.  My older brother whispers to me, “When are you gonna tell her you’re gay?”  While talking about Black Friday shopping with my grandma, I mention my “roommate” (secretly my girlfriend, for those not in the know) had to work a really stupid shift at her retail job.  Not two minutes later, my little brother went, “So… Roommate, huh?  You should just tell her.”  A little while after that, my mom felt it prudent to take me aside to remind me that my cousin had already come out, and that “grandma is totally okay with him being gay, so you could tell her.”

What does this have to do with anything advice-wise?  A couple of things, actually, that I consider pretty important.

If you have a family member who is LGBTQ and they are not out to another person, family or no, it is NOT your job to tell them they can come out.  We do not require your permission on this front.  I don’t need you to tell me when I can or cannot talk about my personal life, or in what terms, and it’s really quite condescending and paternalistic for this to happen.  If someone comes out, it is because they have given themselves the permission to do so, not because some straight person has deemed it “okay”.  If you have a queer family member, don’t you dare tell them this ever, because it’s rude.

The second issue is that people are different, and people are viewed differently by other people.  My grandma, for instance, might consider me her favorite grandchild (or maybe not, I don’t know), but the point is that she might view me in a different light than my cousin.  That being said, she might not react as well as everyone seems to think if I were to come out to her.

The third issue is that the holidays are not just about one person.  I don’t want to make a big scene and make Christmastime or Thanksgivingtime memorable to my octogenarian grandmother because that’s when she learned I’m gay.  It’s about togetherness and family and being glad we have what we have, it’s not about coming out.  Not for me.

At this point, I’m very thankful I can be out to the family members who do know.  Further, I’m thankful I can still make my own choice and that nobody has outed me (as far as I know) without my permission.

So please, take a step back and consider, if you have to, the position your non-heterosexual family members might be in.  They will come out to the people they choose, at the times they choose to do so.  Don’t be a douche and try to push them to do it any sooner than they are comfortable.


How to: Not Talk To Gay People About Sex

Do any of you have something that really just grinds your gears and gets you every time?  I happen to have a lot of them, and if I were to list them all it would require more time and dedication than I could ever hope to expect from any of you.  Consider this an act of mercy that I’m only focusing on one moderately upsetting thing for today.

I had this particular thing in mind for today, because it happened to me last night.  Sometimes being gay can really stink, and a lot of those times happen when you’re interacting with other (mostly heterosexual) people.  One of those interactions I despise is when someone decides it’s a good idea to ask The Question.  You’ve probably encountered it, either in a movie, with friends, hell – maybe you’ve even asked it yourself.  The Question is, for me, as follows: “What do 2 girls, like, DO, y’know… In bed?”

It’s almost always followed by lots of nervous giggling on the part of the asker.

There are a couple of responses that I use for this question, and the one I pick depends upon how well I know the person asking me, and how much I want them to not hate me.

In this case, I was at a bar, so I was able to be all, “I haven’t had enough tequila for this talk”, and that seemed to work pretty well.  (Other fun responses are things like, “Let’s go find out” and “Please shut your face”, but my favorite is, “Well that depends. Are we sleeping or fucking?”)
I’m not a particularly private person.  I’m loud, kind of annoying, and really obnoxious.  I’m outspoken about a great deal of things.  And yet, this one single question leaves me feeling utterly flabbergasted.  I really think this is a prime example of straight privilege, because nobody asks a straight couple what THEY do in bed, right?  Because everyone knows.  But apparently asking gay folks is not only a) super appropriate and acceptable but 2) going to give you an answer to apply to every gay person ever (because we’re all the same, duh!)

I was told that I handled the question like a champ, but I’m still really riled about it.  I also told the particular asker to check things out on the internet.  It’s a wonderful place and there are TONS and TONS and TONS (etc. etc. ad nauseum) of resources on how two ladies might get it on.  Betcha you’ll never guess what happened next.

“I FEEL DIRTY DOING THAT.”

But you feel perfectly alright asking someone you don’t know very well TO THEIR FACE about their sex life?

It would be completely different if this person were asking me about things to do to make one’s sex life more interesting.  I personally feel I have a lot of really brilliant sexytime ideas, and since I’m obnoxiously outspoken, I find very little shame in sharing them.  This, however, was a whole ‘nother scenario.

The moral of the story this week is pretty simple: don’t be an ass.  I don’t care if you’re drunk, I don’t care if you once asked a gay person in a pride parade and they answered.  I’m a different human being, and you should fucking respect that.

We’ll be back for regularly scheduled shenanigans later on.


How to: Love Yourself the Right Way

HELLOOOOOO!

I’m breaking my hiatus because my hiatus is stupid and was imposed for no reason other than I was a little bit on the lazy side.  It’s true, dear readers.  I neglected you because I was bumming around playing video games.  And, y’know, college.

For my first post back, I wanted to talk about something that’s very near and dear to me, and that I take very very seriously.  Surprisingly, it’s not sex (although that’s a close second).

I want to get into what it means to love yourself.  I don’t mean the corny self-help book style of patting yourself on the back or giving yourself affirmations daily or anything like that.  I mean this on a deeper level, because I think “loving yourself” is a very subjective act.

***TRIGGER WARNING: EATING DISORDERS, SELF-HARM AND DEPRESSION***

For me, loving myself has many meanings.  It could be treating myself to a large iced mocha on a rough day.  It could be that extra five minutes in the shower.  I may be crazy, but sometimes “loving myself” means doing another set of a lift at the gym, because loving myself and pushing myself sometimes get conflated.  Sometimes I give myself an extra ten minutes of sleep before work, and that’s loving myself.

I didn’t always used to have such positive outlets for how I felt about myself.  Sometimes I still don’t.  I used to think that loving myself meant doing everything I could to be skinny like girls are supposed to be.  I didn’t do the greatest job of taking care of myself physically, and it took a toll on me in a way that I couldn’t notice back then.  When I got positive comments, I felt like I was flying.  It reinforced what I was doing (which was not consuming food), and it felt damn good.  When I didn’t get positive comments… I wasn’t very nice to myself.  I punished myself, and to this day I am extremely ashamed of this.

I don’t know when this changed for me, and I can’t promise that it will, because nobody can do that.  (If only…)

It turns out that I’m not actively trying to make you cry, and I’m definitely not searching for compliments or pity.  I want you to be aware that this acceptance of self is a process.  It’s a journey and it’s hard.  So, what does this have to do with you?

You never know where somebody is coming from in life.  You don’t know if that chubby kid goes home and tries to eat right and maybe has some other problems.  That weird quiet dude doesn’t need you to point out that he looks like he hasn’t washed his hair.  People are so acutely aware of their flaws, they really don’t need to hear another voice chime in and repeat them.

One of the most important things that happened when I started realizing I was worth more than cuts and starvation was that I became a nicer person.  When I was better to myself, I felt better and I passed that on to the rest of the world.  I’m not trying to be preachy and I’m not trying to brag about how great a person I am – I still have flaws, and maybe you have a different reason for being mad at the world.  It’s okay.

There’s that old adage that says, “you can’t love someone else until you learn to love yourself”.  I know it’s not healthy to base your worth on your relationship status.  However, I think there’s a very fine line between the healthy and unhealthy aspects of that.  For me, finding that awesome girlfriend of mine made me a great deal happier.  I’m about to sound EVEN LAMER (as if that’s possible at this point) and tell you that she has made me want to be a better person.

I wanted to share my experiences and opinions with you about this stuff for awhile, and I’m still not sure I managed to do it without sounding all “hurr durr look at how great my life is now”.  It’s important to remember that you ought to be kind to yourself.  Self-respect and self-worth are terms that get tossed around a lot, and it’s easy to get lost in the myriad definitions.

Take a good, hard look at what you view as loving yourself.  Does it harm yourself, physically or psychologically?  Does it harm someone else, physically or psychologically?  It doesn’t have to be a productive thing, necessarily (my coffee/chocolate consumption is hardly productive and mostly just delicious).

Be good to yourselves.  I think you’ll feel a lot better.


Self-Help Books Can Actually Be Helpful???

Okay I’m sorry, I didn’t fall off the planet, I’ve just been shirking my duty as your faithful advice blogger for… Well for long enough to risk falling off the planet, I suppose.  I haven’t really done much, apart from the usual going to the gym, going to work, and eating food routine that most people seem to have.  So exciting.

One thing I have done is finish reading a book.  An advice book, no less – something I normally avoid like a cat avoids water.

I’m not usually one for self-help books. I tend to find the advice therein trite, condescending, and in some cases enabling of the behaviors the person reading needs help with. Of course, when my mom handed me this book I went, “Yeah, sure, I’ll read this. Eventually.” Because my mother likes to hand out advice, wanted, warranted, or not, I really just rolled my eyes. And then my girlfriend read the book first. And then something ridiculous happened – she told me it was good. Not just good, but something that I should be reading.

Thus, I just finished reading, The Defining Decade by Dr. Meg Jay, PhD. The book is broken down into a few sections, on love, work, and being a grown-up. Really, the whole book centers on acting like an adult now instead of later, and getting your act together before you’re 30. There are a lot of examples that Dr. Jay uses to describe exactly what she’s getting at, whether it’s the twentysomething boy who was essentially homeless because he grew up in an unsettled divorced parenting situation, or the young Korean American woman who had grown up being teased for being different and a virgin in high school, so she never stopped to consider the sort of qualities she actually wanted in a partner – she just wanted to be wanted.

I wish I couldn’t identify so well with each of the people in this book. I’m way overeducated for my current job. I know this, and I know what I want to be doing, I just don’t know if I can actually put in the work to get there. I just keep assuming that everything will fall into place, because that’s what I’ve been taught to expect. I’ve also been hearing, “You’re young, this is what you’re supposed to do” an awful lot, too.

I think, contrary to popular belief, “YOLO” (you only live once) is part of this problem that leaves folks screwed over in their thirties. The twenties are apparently to be spent partying, traveling, working as a barista at Starbucks, and generally not giving a shit about the future because you’ll think about it “when you’re thirty” or “way later”…. Draw a timeline of how you want your life to go. If you have a picture like that, and “babies” and something like “medical school” are in the same place… You might have to reconsider what you’re doing.

What resonated most with me, for a silly reason, was the entire section on love. Every time my girlfriend and I have had problems of any sort, I have been advised by at least one person to break up with her and find someone else. I’m always told that I will have plenty of time to find my perfect someone, because my girlfriend and I are “so young” (I’m almost 24, for the record). I think getting together at a pretty young age, relatively speaking, is seen as a thing of the past. I have a friend who just got married, and she’s a couple years younger than I am. Do I think that’s too young? Maybe. I don’t know.

The point I’m trying (and failing) to make is that I feel really lucky in love. I don’t think I care if my perfect soul mate life partner match from heaven is out there in the world somewhere. There are another 7 billion people on this planet, of course. But, at this point, I think instead of stressing over whether or not my girlfriend and I are completely 100% totally perfect, I am going to focus on all the great things about being with her. At least in this respect, I feel like I have my shit together.

I wish I had an idea of what I want to be when I grow up. I wish I knew what I wanted to DO with my life. I want to do a million things, and I’m so afraid of all the possibilities that I don’t know where to start, and so I’m just paralyzed by all of them.

This paragraph I just wrote isn’t in the book, but there are a bunch like it. It makes me feel less bad, being as concerned as I am about my career future, because Facebook and the media seem to keep telling me that I should be gallivanting around Europe half-naked and fucking my way through hostels or something to that effect. Those same institutions tell me that I should drink more and do stupid shit because, after all, “you only live once”.

While that’s all probably a good time, I will take my amazing girlfriend, our tiny apartment, and a half-cooked plan for the rest of my life over drinks in an English pub any day. I may not know where I want to go, but I know who I want to get there with, and I really think that’s a big step in the right direction.

I’m not advocating for or against settling down at an earlier age, and I’m not even knocking working for Starbucks.  All I’m saying is that this book is pretty great, I recommend it, and I think we could all stand to get the ball rolling on the rest of our lives a little faster than age 30.

A little ambition never killed anyone.

…Right?


A Little Maintenance

Hey y’alls!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been kind of busy the last week or so.  I got hired to play music at a wedding, completely by accident!  I also have been making real-life friends, which is hilarious.  And working out, which makes me look so much more attractive than normal (seriously, sweat does something for me.  No, it does.  Totally.)

Anyway, I’m in a bit of a pickle here.  My Gay Girl superpowers only go so far, and I only have so many super-creative ideas for posts knocking around my brainbox!

I need your help, trusty readership!  What sort of things do you want to see happen here?  More lists?  I need moar topics!  More survival guide entries?  Anything that you’ve had a particular issue with recently?

Hit me up at gaygirladvice (at) gmail.com, or on the Twitters @gaygirladvice, or le Tumblr, gaygirladvice.tumblr.com


Soapbox: Gay Marriage Edition

Alright, so in case you have been living under a rock lately, you have probably heard that Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama have both publicly voiced support for same-sex marriage.  After that, Jay-Z and even the NAACP have endorsed marriage equality.

I bet even he’s heard, though.

After all that has happened and all that is being said, I have some feelings about it.  How could I not?  It’s a big deal.  It’s a massively huge ridiculously big deal, to be more precise.  And it effects my life in a very direct way.  So if you don’t want to read about my feelings and issues with all that’s going on, I advise you to stop now.

A lot of friends of mine on Facebook posted links to the video of President Obama describing how he came to this new attitude toward gay marriage, explaining this evolution of sorts.  Unfortunately while his words were really heartwarming and it was awesome to hear the President of the United States, while in office, say outright that he wants to allow folks like me and some of my best friends to marry our partners…. I didn’t feel it.

I know.  I know.  I feel like such a terrible American!  How could I, noisy obnoxiously gay lady that I am, not be celebrating with glitter, rainbows, and unicorns like the rest of the population that is okay with gay marriage?

It’s a combination of things.  First, it has brought out some of the worst in people.  Some people that were very vehemently opposed to gay marriage have gotten even worse.  North Carolina passed its stupid Amendment One, which bans everything except marriage between a man and a woman.  What’s tragic and stupid about this, in my mind, is that gay marriage was already illegal in North Carolina.  This just added that into the constitution of the state, while also dumping on straight couples who wouldn’t really go for a traditional marriage.

By making this announcement prior to the November election, the President has potentially pushed away voters that like progressive things but not gay marriage.  I’m just really, really nervous about this.  I think that it’s all going to be okay, given that the other presidential candidate is big jerk bully Mitt Romney.  Speaking of which, have you read about some of the crap this guy has done?  Seriously, what a d-bag.

Perhaps what is worst about this is people like this pastor.  I know he’s probably voicing a minority opinion here, and I know that he’s only got like three people agreeing with him on that video… But it hurts.  I don’t like the vaguest notion of locking up any group of people, let alone a group of people to which I belong.  It makes my skin crawl and my stomach cramp to know that there’s a a guy like this saying things like that, and to know that there are some humans who will actually listen.  Pro tip: If you want to not be considered an asshole, don’t suggest rounding up and jailing all the “queers”.

None of this, though instills in me the need to fight, to push, I don’t have this feeling like I am actually supported or that marriage equality is actually supported by my President.  They’re just words.  I do not mean to belittle what is a large step forward – that would be naive and unfair.  I don’t think this is a moment to celebrate.  Instead of cracking some champagne and enjoying this moment – undoubtedly a big moment, at that – I find myself becoming more the angry lesbian caricature.  I guess it’s in part because I felt shortchanged after the 2008 election and the Prop 8 insanity that happened is happening in California, but also in part because there were some people who straight-up (no pun intended) told me that I should be glad this first step was taken.  There were a few comments that had the, “Isn’t this good enough for you” tone, and I resent that.  It did nothing to make me agree and be happy.  It felt condescending and super straight-privilege-y.  Needless to say, I’m not a fan.

If I could give you one bit of advice, in all this ranting I’ve done, it’s this: don’t tell people that this is good enough.  Don’t tell people that they can stop asking for it because a man in an office said some pretty words.  Instead, look for a local chapter of PFLAG or GLSEN, make an It Gets Better video, just don’t make empty promises.

Something less depressing will probably be in the next post.


My Great Excuse

Hello, dear readers.  I’ve had a lot on my mind the past couple of weeks, and unfortunately for those of you who come to this blog for it’s original purpose, relationship advice wasn’t part of my thoughts.  For the next paragraphs, please forgive my soapboxing and frustration; I’m just really appalled by all of this.  I have a lot of feelings about all of this, and I’m telling you right now that this isn’t going to be a funny post.

For those of you who’ve been living under a rock the past few weeks, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the Trayvon Martin case.  Quick recap, for those who don’t know: 17-year-old Martin went to get snacks one night in Sanford, Florida, got followed by a neighborhood watchman, and ended up being shot to death by said neighborhood watchman.

It’s kind of a big mess now.  I think that’s putting it really mildly.  There has been a lot that’s come to light, including the 911 calls made by George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who killed Trayvon Martin.  I don’t know what your personal feelings are, but if I hear a police dispatcher say that I don’t need to be following someone, then I’m going to listen to that person because they’re probably pretty sure of what they’re doing.  The other extremely disturbing part is that you can plainly hear Mr. Zimmerman use a racial epithet, which was censored on many major news outlets.  If you want to listen for yourself, a couple of minutes into it you can hear Zimmerman say “f***ing c**ns”, which is a not-so-nice way to refer to African-Americans.

As if the direction from a police dispatcher to leave the kid alone wasn’t reason enough to be upset, the neighborhood watch rules also explicitly state that watchmen are not to carry firearms.  But we’re not paying attention to any of that.

What’s great is that there has been no sign of Mr. Zimmerman in the last month (Martin was killed on February 26), but friends of his have come forward.  An African-American man named Joe Oliver has been interviewed in several places and pretty much keeps saying Zimmerman isn’t racist because well, obviously Mr. Oliver is his friend.  It’s a very classic “I’m not racist because I have a friend who is a person of color” excuse.  And that’s what it is.  It’s a crappy excuse that is only making a crappy situation worse, and that’s really frustrating.  For some reason in the United States, it’s seemingly not racist unless you’re a blatant, explicit white supremacist.  That’s such BS.

There has been a lot of talk about Florida’s firearms legislation, including what “stand your ground” and “castle” laws mean.  A castle law comes from the old term that “a man’s house is his castle” and thus he has a right to defend it.  So for a castle law, you can use force on any intruder (Indiana has included cops as intruders in a recently passed piece of legislation!)  With the “stand your ground” law, essentially, if you feel threatened in a public place in the state of Florida (literally anywhere), you can use deadly force, so long as you assert you felt threatened.  And then you can walk away.

There’s also a smear campaign happening against this dead boy.  I really can’t think of anything more disgusting than pointing out he was suspended from school for having marijuana.  He’s dead.  He got shot to death by someone.  Isn’t that enough?  I’m disgusted that people are choosing to pick on a dead child, when relevant authorities are refusing to investigate the case.  It’s horrible.

The other horrible part is how incredibly racist we’re all being about this.  George Zimmerman has family of Hispanic or Latino descent, so there are talking heads on television who are now asserting that white people have done nothing wrong and do nothing wrong.  It’s basically being made into Trayvon Martin’s fault because he went outside wearing a hoodie when it was cold at night.  He was probably really weirded out by a strange man following him for awhile.  He was probably REALLY concerned when that same man got out of his car and approached him, or when they approached each other.

Instead of being concerned with the dead teenager who was probably scared shitless in the last minutes of his life, we have people like Geraldo Rivera saying not to let Latino or African-American males walk around wearing hoodies.  He quite literally said, “the hoodie is as much to blame for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman.”  REALLY?!  Ugh.

I realize as a white American woman I have a bit of privilege behind me, I don’t deny it and I try to be aware of it.  However I think a lot of people are missing the point – regardless of who felt threatened, why don’t we let this come out in a court of law?  If Mr. Zimmerman and his friends and family are going to protest on behalf of his innocence, do it where it really will matter.  Get the acquittal and then get help for that itchy trigger finger.

I’m really mad about this, and I think it’s an important conversation we need to have.  I’m not against responsible gun ownership, I’m not out to infringe on one’s right to own or carry or use a gun.  I think, though, if you shoot someone, and especially if it’s a mortal wound and they die, you should go to court.  If you’re innocent, let the evidence show it.


Are Your “Buts” Making You An A-Hole?

So hey, I recently discovered some websites that give me a lot of feelings.  Some of these feelings are akin to, “OKAY REALLY PEOPLE, REALLY?!”, while others are closer to inarticulate rage that makes me want to throw heavy and sharp objects at the person who said the thing.

What, might you ask, gives me these kind of feelings?

I’m Not Racist But…

I’m Not Sexist But…

I’m Not Homophobic But…

There are some really ridiculous human beings out there, folks.  And what’s really funny is that these websites are full of people who can’t seem to grow up and come face-to-face with their own prejudices and feelings that are racist, that are homophobic, and that are sexist.

There are a lot of other statements that get made in everyday use that don’t have this prejudicial slant to them.  You’ve all heard them, you probably hear them on a regular basis and now you won’t ever un-hear them.  Have you ever heard anyone start a sentence with, “Now don’t take this the wrong way, but…”?

I hear that ALL THE TIME.  And you know what’s funny?  The person who leads off that way almost always says something really horrible.  In fact, I’m usually left wondering whether there is a right way to take some comments that start with “Don’t take this the wrong way, but”.  Seriously, all it’s doing is excusing your rude behavior!  This is a good way to sound like a major a-hole.

The other phrase I hear is, “No offense, but…” which is, like the above phrase, a precursor to something really offensive.  Saying this phrase before something is kind of ridiculous.  It’s not a safety blanket that absolves you of whatever douchey thing you’re about to say.

My last, extremely least-favorite phrase of all time is, “I’m sorry, but…”  You’re not sorry.  You’re not even remotely sorry.  Don’t even.

I’m not a stranger to these sort of feelings.  I’m in no way excusing racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist, ageist, or whatever-ist thoughts.  Part of the reason I liked reading the websites I linked to above is that, in some instances I see thoughts that I have had.  I’m not proud of that by any means, it just goes to show that even though I’m wonderful, I’m certainly not perfect.  The difference is that I have worked pretty hard to not make excuse statements before I say something or have a thought.

My advice in this instance is to stop it right now.  Just stop it.  Stop qualifying your statements to make yourself feel better.  If you weren’t a bit racist/sexist/homophobic in some way, those thoughts and feelings would not be around.  The trick is to grow up and confront those feelings.  The best plan of attack I can give you is to stop and think about what you’re thinking.  If you would a) never say it out loud or b) never think it without the disclaimer at the beginning, then it’s a problem.

I have a lot of feelings about these things, obviously.  Just please try not to be a douchebag.


The Basics

Okay, let’s talk basic respect right here and real quick.

Basic respect is letting a person finish their sentences.  It’s treating them like a grown adult instead of like a small child.  It’s not talking down to them.  It’s not insulting things that are important to them, such as their religion.

I’m back in school for the new semester, and I have had some really shitty experiences so far.

The first was with a professor.  She’s obviously smart, but she’s just kind of a jerk.  I think she would enjoy being a kindergarten teacher more than a college professor.  I just have a big problem with talking down to adults.  It gives me a big bad case of secondhand embarrassment to hear someone be so condescending to another adult.  If there’s someone sitting in the back row in a bank of computers that can’t be run independently because they’re connected to the presenter’s computer… Shut up.  Don’t talk to him like he’s four and needs to sit in front.  It’s rude.

Oh, and speaking of the word “rude”, don’t dismiss “rudeness” for “honesty”.  They’re two COMPLETELY different things.  Honesty can sometimes BE rude, which is why we have the white lie, but that doesn’t work the other way around.  Rudeness is hurtful, honesty usually isn’t.  It’s not rocket science.

This brings me to my next series of encounters.  I have a couple of classmates (in a different class) who, ideologically speaking, are on the same page as me.  They’re liberal dudes.  Cool, good for them.  However, they’re the most disrespectful people I have ever encountered in a college setting.  They yell over everyone, professor included, and they don’t let people finish sentences.  They interrupt everybody and it’s really difficult because they always get class off-track.

Today, however, this took a turn for the moderately horrific.  It’s a class about interest groups, and we have to do a big research term paper on a group of our choosing.  One of the obnoxious guys picked the Catholic Church, which is fine.  Unfortunately he said that part of its agenda was protecting heterosexual marriage while defending child molestation.  Someone in class got really offended, probably because she’s Catholic.  So what does this guy say?  “Whatever, you’re a child molestation sympathizer.”  I wish I could make this shit up.

Now, I’m gay.  I’m not really the biggest fan of most religious institutions, and that sentiment probably goes the other way here too.  BUT I am also willing to let people have their religious beliefs and do what they’re going to do.

I’m not saying this because I’m some bastion of respectfulness, tact, and wondrous empathy or anything.  In fact, I’m usually the one running my mouth with the first thought that pops into my head because I think it’s funny.  That all being said, I do think these are some experiences that are forcing me to take a long look at how I am, and how I conduct myself and how disrespectful and stupid I may seem to some people.

I hope this does something similar to you.  It doesn’t cost anything to be nice to someone, even if you disagree with them.