Discrimination…

13 Oct

”Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”

– Zora Neale Hurston

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5 Oct

The Closet

25 Sep

A friend posted a question on the QueerZim facebook page, ‘in or out of the closet? what are the advantages and disadvantages in the fight against discrimination of LGBTI? #dont get me wrong, not a judgmental question#

I have always wondered what it means to be in or out of the closet or being ‘in or out’ of anything else for that matter… like when we say someone is in the closet, we assume that ‘everything’ about their sexual orientation and sexuality is hidden.

Over the years, I have been in many spaces where I’ve heard people, particularly those who are LGBTI identifying or activists talking about, ‘we need to get out of the closet’, because presumably this means that you have more value, you stand for something and you are a fighter ‘only’ if you are out of the closet.

What I think about this issue is that there certain things we share about our sexual orientation and other things that we don’t, and this is regardless of being in or out of the closet. For those who are out of the closet, I guess you know the difficulties you experienced in telling people and the pain and hurt you went through when you lost friends and family. I doubt this is any different for those who are in the closet. We are in constant struggle for acceptance and fighting to be free.

Those who are in the closet are said to be ‘living a lie’… But who isn’t? We come from varying circumstances, challenging backgrounds and how we choose to deal with those circumstances when they present themselves is often a painful personal decision. This is not to give authority to people who are oppressive and abusive and hiding behind the hatred outside the closet. There are those who have discovered the benefits of living double lives, but like the moderator said, this is not about judgment, just pointing out that double standards and hypocrisy are everywhere and in everyone.

When we talk about being in or out of the closet and fighting discrimination, I also think about what the labels LGBTI mean about being in or out of certain spaces. We all have multiple identities and this means that we have multiple ways of being in and out. We identify as women, but most ‘lesbian’ women I know wouldn’t be ‘in’ with their families, friends, colleagues, women’s movement and many other spaces because they don’t look ‘feminine’ enough, and the ones who are feminine looking, don’t pass with the LGBT spaces or with some butch looking lesbians because they pass as straight women. This acceptance is even more evident where it concerns ‘trans’ identifying people and bisexuals. Both groups seem to be considered to be ‘traitors’ and we hardly ever address intersex issues. I wonder who these groups are in or out with and how many closets they need to deal with?

How we decide to deal with discrimination requires us to be able to think outside of the boxes that keep us apart, creating a them and us situation is why we have been unable to make bigger gains. We have made the fight against LGBTI discrimination a fight for LGBTI people/organisations and human rights organisations and we seem to have forgotten that there are so many other allies in the pool, who are willing and committed to fighting discrimination in all its multiplicity.

 

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