“I’ve told this story many times before… When we were children, we used to play a game called smear the queer. It was a game where someone would throw a football in the air and all of us boys would scramble to catch the ball. Whoever caught the ball would then run for his life because they were about to get tackled grotesquely. That person was the “queer”. I tell my son about this to show him that I do/have done stupid things in my life and things that I’m embarrassed about. When I told him a few weeks ago he asked me, Why did you want to catch the ball?” G. Ross, ICMN
Excerpt: Taking Accountability For Our Own Role In Anti-Gay Violence Gyasi Ross, ICTMN
“I also remember when I was in 8th grade a fight happened in the locker room after football practice. Someone called one of the kids a “fag.” Everybody in the locker room laughed until the kid got so upset/frustrated/angry that he struck the other kid. The kid who was getting teased split the other kid’s nose and both kids got suspended. I wasn’t an active participant as I wasn’t really “cool” enough to pick on anybody. I was a passive participant laughing and watching. I tell my son that story to tell him that we have an obligation to speak up when someone’s getting picked on. I give him this story as an example of when I did not do that.
Omar Mateen has become the face of evil in regards to anti-gay violence for viciously massacring 49 people in an Orlando gay club. His actions were so heinous that even people who routinely say hurtful and hateful things about homosexuality have made him a whipping boy and condemned his actions. Good–he obviously should be held accountable! But that doesn’t make those people who say hateful things good—it just makes what Mateen did worse.
His actions do not absolve the smaller indignities against the LGBTQ community; we still have to take into account all of the people who create an environment that makes Omar Mateen possible and even likely.
Like when I was a child and we played a game called smear the queer. Like when I was a child and I sat quietly by as a kid was insulted. I think about what if the kid in the locker room was gay? What if any kids in the locker room were gay? Of course they’re going to hide the fact that they’re gay! The first step in a revolution is love; the second step is accountability and realizing our role in a problem.
For my part I’ve apologized and I apologize again. But those experiences made me realize that it’s not just the folks who commit these acts of anti-gay violence who have blood on their hands; it’s all of us who create an environment that shames gays (or anybody really, but this is specifically about anti-gay violence).
Yet, I know that I can start to fix that by teaching my son—as young as he is—to accept and tolerate and to love. There is no such thing as too young to teach tolerance and respect. We teach them by having honest conversations about Orlando… or about our own past and evolving perspectives.”
“It’s not just about the worst of the worst—the face of evil. It’s also about us, the regular people who help create the environments that allow those faces of evil to fester. We have the power to change those environments.” ~ Gyasi Ross~
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