The “H-Word” and The Politics of Name-Calling

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“Most of the members of the family, even those who shun you, are decent people. They just never had to face someone with your courage.” - Rabih Alameddine

During the past week, Bekhsoos had an estimate of 200 to 300 new “Likes” on its Facebook Page. This exciting new wave brought with it supporters from 18 different countries, ranging across the sexuality continuum, along with a few persons who have been vocal enough to earn the “Homophobes of the Bekhsoos Page” title within less than 24 hours. Congratulations.

When The Lebanese LGBT Media Monitor reported that “this reflects the growing media influence that Bekhsoos has developed” – I thought “definitely” but the question I had in mind was how we were going to capitalize on this new surge in homophobia on our page.

Like many, while reading through the homophobic slurs that found their way unto the Bekhsoos page, I felt insulted, to say the least. Nevertheless, I began wondering if sarcasm, name-calling, and verbal aggression were the most strategic responses on our behalf as queers.

What I would like to discuss here, is our strategy in labeling homophobia as such, and our tactics in responding to homophobia in ways that are not counter-productive to our movement. Perhaps this is an opportunity for us to revisit our own discourse against homophobia, which very often comes as a reaction, and perpetuates the same spirit of hate and exclusion. Instead of breaking “the hate circle” and reframing the confrontation, we project on others what they project on us. We denigrate, we exclude, we ridicule, and then, we correct their spelling mistakes.

Let me start here by saying this: I am a fervent believer that our movement for social justice can only be a grassroots movement – otherwise it is not a movement. For it to thrive, it has to be fueled by the people, for the people.

If, as queers, we’ve been shunned by some (often portrayed as “the majority” though I have my doubts) how would it help our grassroots movement if we were to denigrate and insult “the majority” back? How would labeling them as “ignorant homophobes” help us in raising awareness on the politics of sexuality? If we were to step back and look at the larger picture, sarcasm, name-calling and verbal aggression would be counter-productive.

So far, we’ve been told that we’re perverted and sick, that we have no sense of morality, that, according to Sharia Law, we should be punished for our behavior, and that we should simply check into a hospital and get hormonal treatments. We’ve been told that it isn’t normal to talk about sex, that even straight people don’t have the impulse to discuss their sex lives, and to go see doctors, like, seriously, right now.

If anything, these comments are a sign that yes, we have a long road ahead of us. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty much excited. My own Mama, who does not know that I am queer but who senses something “not-so-hetero” about my lifestyle told me last month that I wasn’t normal. My reply came with a genuine smile: “Thank you for that, ‘normal’ is boring and overrated, and you know it.” Her response? She laughed and hugged me. Yes, I did feel lucky. But you know what? While she might be on the outskirts of our movement right now, I know that she will be joining us in solidarity – when she’s ready – and this is because she always has my kindness and respect, my willingness to sit with her and talk about ideas, beliefs, and feelings, gently. I trust that underneath it all, she would love me regardless of (my own or) my partner’s gender. It isn’t very difficult to push people out of their comfort zones, but this has to be with respect to their own limitations and fears, and always at their own pace.

For every person having difficulties in understanding (their own or) other people’s sexualities, I could only wish that you would open your hearts enough so that someday you would notice the queer persons in your lives – because they are there. I hope that they would be warm-hearted, strong, and patient enough to be willing to sit down with you and explore whichever feelings, ideas and beliefs you may be struggling with.

- Written by Lynn who sends TaQat li H. for giving “homophobia” so much thought and for bouncing ideas around with her

Lynn is actively involved in Meem, a community of queer women and trans folk. She's also into pixels, among other things.

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