Lighten Up, Yo – Learn to Take a Joke

Okay. Here it is.

The issue with making jokes at the expense of the LGBTQ+ community is this: “gay people” aren’t a joke. They are human beings at a higher risk of being intentionally brutalized via spontaneous and premeditated hate crimes than a vast majority of individuals who may not be identifying/identified as LGBTQ+. This community is greatly marginalized by our society at large and the percentages of these people who are taunted, ridiculed, or otherwise harassed on a daily basis are staggering.

The difference between being “called” gay as a way to demean someone or make fun of them and simply calling someone “ridiculous” or “ludicrous” is that members of the LGBQT+ community are at a near constant risk of being “at the wrong place at the wrong time” simply for existing.

I understand the sentiment in saying, “It’s okay if I joke about my friends being gay even though they aren’t. It’s funny to be because it’s not true. After all, I don’t hate gays at all. In fact, I have an [insert some arbitrary connection to an LGBTQ+ person or distant relative here] and I would never do something that would cause harm to that person. Honestly, you need to just lighten up and learn how to take a joke.”

Okay.

Cool.

I get it.

YOU’RE not LGBTQ+.

You’re “straight,” right?

Cool.

Good for you.

So am I. And that actually puts me in a position of privilege. It puts YOU in a position of privilege.

Because you are privileged, it is not only your prerogative to take a stand on issues created by people in YOUR majority toward members of the “not you” minority, it’s your responsibility.

It is important to take note of the times we are living in and the state of progress in the Civil Rights Movements we have made so far as a modern society and how much further we have to go. Things might seem “fine” to you, but that’s because you don’t personally experience intimidation and pain due to systemic and widespread sexism/racism/etc.

Sure, in a perfect world, we should all be able to joke and laugh with each other without raising alarm. The ability to accept fun poked at us as lighthearted stems from the foundation of knowing that the person or group making the joke actually loves you. When the jibe comes from someone who doesn’t know you personally or hasn’t proven that they are an ally or gained our trust and respect in some other way, we have a tendency to take offense at the “innocent joke” offered by that person.

Put another way, I’m saying this:

Making a racist joke about a “black person” today among your friends or co-workers who AREN’T black might seem okay to some people today because you all know “you don’t really hate blacks,” but doing so during a time when legal segregation was the norm and violence committed against blacks by the police AND public was a more than daily occurrence would have been abominable. Go back not even 50 years and make the same jokes. Umm…not cool. Even though YOU “don’t hate blacks,” making jokes at their expense isn’t exactly fighting for their rights and showing them you’re any different than the radicals in your majority group who actively seek to harm them…

See where I’m coming from here?

Making a joke about transsexuals or homosexual men during today’s time is under a similar harsh reality wherein these human beings are hunted down like animals: stalked, beaten, raped, and even murdered simply for being who they ARE (not who they CHOOSE to be.)

The statistics on violence committed against the LGBTQ+ community in this country alone are staggering — not to mention other sections of the world where minds are even more clouded by hate and prejudice in certain areas than this society embraces.

Yes, sure — I’M NOT GAY. Right, you heard me. But just because ***I’M NOT GAY*** doesn’t mean that I just sit around while my brothers and sisters are the victims of grotesque violence that I myself will likely never have to experience. Why don’t I just lighten up? Sure. I’ll lighten up. I’ll lighten up after every corridor of injustice is exposed by the blinding brilliance of truth, justice, and equality. I’ll lighten up after my fellow human beings are free to live their lives in full expression without fear of discrimination or violence toward them or their friends and family. I’ll lighten up when my children have no idea what racism or sexism was. I’ll lighten up when the Christians stop killing Muslims/Jews/Hindus/Pagans/Atheists and the Muslims stop killing Christians/Muslims/Jews/Hindus/Pagans/Atheists and the Jews stop killing Palestinians, etc. I’ll lighten up when someone famous can “undergo a sex change” without it becoming national news.

Until that time, I am not going to “lighten up” or “take the stick out of my ass.”

Let me put it to you ONE MORE WAY in case you don’t get it yet, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr.

“The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community [insert LGBTQ+, Feminist, Survivors of Domestic Violence communities, etc. here] must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, [majority “not us” oppressors] for many of our white [non-oppressed] brothers [sisters, etc.], as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro [oppressed group] is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s [oppressed people’s] basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” [Or “No Gays, No Women, etc.] We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Let the waters roll as they wash away all you closed minded, feeble brained peasants. No, I am a philosopher for Love’s sake. I’m not just going to “lighten up.”

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