With great dismay this morning I read a piece on Huffington Post by Brooke Sopelsa, in which she calls for the queer community to stop policing the verbiage used by the straight community.
Frankly, I was shocked to see an Andrew Sullivan-style of blatant hetero-normative apologism grace the pages of HuffPost Gay Voices, which is normally a bastion of pushing LGBT voices to the forefront in the fight, and yes, it IS a fight, for equality.
In the piece, Sopelsa says:
We are making many of our allies and potential future allies feel as though they have to walk on eggshells.
Very little social change has occurred in the history of the United States without speaking out or acts of civil disobedience. The gains in marriage equality and LGBT rights come on the heels of decades of queer marches, demands and legal challenges. They did not come from trying to not offend hetero-normativity. Using Sopelsa's analogy, they did not come from deliberately attempting to protect hetero-normative people from walking on eggshells, they came from breaking those eggshells and making an omelette.
Let's briefly take a look at the privilege of hetero-normativity for a moment. In many states, LGBT people can be fired for being queer, be refused housing and some states even still have sodomy laws. I haven't even mentioned the privilege over those under the trans umbrella yet -- the privilege not to be slaughtered for wearing the clothes they want to wear, the privilege to be able to make jokes at our expense, to call us derogatory names, the privilege of not having people ask in a matter-of-fact way as to what your genital configuration may be, the freedom to use restrooms unmolested, the security of knowing that you won't be thrown in the wrong jail if you're ever arrested and the security of knowing that you won't be arrested simply for what you're wearing, especially if you're of color.
As queers we almost have a responsibility to speak out and tell straight people what we do and don't find acceptable. We're supposed to be fighting for equality, not hoping not to be noticed and passively accepted.
If you're not, you're doing it wrong.