“How straight people betray their thinking” took me back. I am not part of the LGBT community, but reading this I find that “betray” is harshly put.
I have been in the situation, where a young man, who was openly gay, started telling everybody that I am homophobic. Which I am not, if anyone cares to know me closer. But it went on for months until one day he shouted it to my face and I asked him, why he did it. His response was similar what you wrote in your post. That I used “them”, when I discussed a problem with someone to get some help on the matter. The only problem – I was referring to him as a person, part of the group that was having a problem and it was related a very different matter than his sexual preferences.
Before he confronted me about my homophobic inclination I didn’t even have a clue something so trivia can raise so much trouble. That someone can pick whatever they choose out of context and turn you into something your are not based on “them” in your vocabulary or how they perceive you using it. Took me months not to choke on the word again.
But it also made me think, what that politer way would be? Given that our languages (and I’m talking of other languages here too) don’t always have “proper” way of handling this. What is the proper way? Especially that it’s not the word that is to blame. It’s the body language that goes with it.
I find myself now closing up near anyone, who I know would be in position to twist meanings in my choice of words (and being foreign speaker that is serious predicament if you realize half of your vocabulary can be misjudged). With such experience in the past – who wouldn’t? And even that silence can be understood as “betraying” my way of thinking. When the truth is, I fear being misjudged again or made into enemy based on my words alone. It angers me that everything is judged based on religion and sexuality.
I understand her position though. It’s not only LGBT community problem. I have been in that position myself for being different. After some time you start seeing it everywhere and soon it seems as if you’re judged from right and left. But I also know that most of it is stuck in the way we think ourselves not so much others. Thus I can honestly say that there is big difference in body language and malicious way of thinking and just being misjudged based on words.
The problem, as I see it, is not so much that they use specific words, but the way we like to read others. We do it unconsciously anyway, but the reality is, we cant’ see each other’s thoughts. It’s sad that in those cases, our brain tells us “Ahaa! She didn’t say anything, which means she’s thinking this way!”. The reality is often different. To me “them” is part of an active vocabulary. If I use it, it is meant to be used as it says in the dictionary with no specific meanings unless given by the noun in the previous sentence.
By demonizing such words, what else is left for me to do than to remain silent? At least then I can say that no, I have not said that, you are putting words in my mouth. But even then the insulted one turns away, shakes their head and shouts you back “Yeah, but you were thinking that!”.
No, I wasn’t.
But it hurts me that one can think something like that of me and are so confident in one’s own right that you have imaginary conversation with the imaginary me.
And though the last part is a lot me-me-me, I’d like to add that I thought long how to express it through “us” and failed. Because if I write “us”, how do you make it sound so the “us” means “ALL of us” not just “the private club of heteros”, when I’m writing about LGBT? ’cause lately, isn’t it so? Each cultural group has their own dialect, their own urban dictionary and it is painfully clear that we don’t know how, or even worse, don’t care enough to understand that others don’t speak the same language, even if we grow up streets apart. I guess that’s going too scientific, social behaviorism patterns based on cultural understandings.
If it is obvious from the body language that they mean it the wrong way, of course its hurtful. But I peg of you – leave the language out of it for as with everything else – it’s just a tool. And if you use it to wrong others, it’s not the problem of the tool.
Despite understanding that it was example in sentence… It’s heteros, who are told often enough in media and everyday lives to be more open minded about sexual differences. In 1920s it was nobody’s business what you did in your bedroom. Now if you say you don’t care what others do in their bedrooms, it is considered serious insult. I still don’t care what you do in bedroom. It’s called not snooping in other person’s private life.
Doesn’t mean I don’t care who your partner is and if they are good people, ’cause beyond gender, that I value more than anything in judging people. If they bring out the best side in you. If they make you want to be better person. If they love you and are willing to put up with your small quirks and learn how to solve problems with you. If you love them.
So… for conclusion…hmmh…Interesting, when I look through the post, I see a pattern rising up – in order to clear my thoughts, I feel the need to add what I don’t mean in order to clear out what I do mean.
I am hetero. I am proud on my own. I don’t dare to say it out loud in LGBT community. It does not mean I harbor negative feelings towards the community, but I just don’t know how to handle this anymore. There are so many things that are considered insulting these days I find it discouraging to start contact at all. ’cause why start a dialog if you “betray” your thoughts already when the other person steps inside?