How do other folks who are members of historically marginalized groups, and who write about race and gender and sexuality, wrestle with writing for mainstream spaces? Do they? Should we? Are there topics writers will not or should not discuss outside of a "safe space"? Are there story ideas writers reserve for "of color" or GLBT spaces?
I asked some smart, writerly, social justice-minded folks to weigh in. And I'll be sharing their thinking all this week. Today, Sparky of Spark in Darkness.
SPARKY (Spark in Darkness)
Ok, sorry this got really long. I think there are three stops I have to make on the way there.
I think some discussions are community discussions for various reasons. Mainly because I think there are some things that community members understand more clearly and more fully, and just in general, than those outside can. There are elements to being GBLT that straight, cis people quite simply cannot understand. And sometimes we want to discuss those things without having to go back and explain the 101 each time to the straight, cis folk – especially if it may be unexplainable (some things you have to live).
And sometimes – often – I don’t even think straight, cis folk have a place in the discussion. I have been in communities where we have had to break out the tiny violins to play sad, sad songs for outraged straight, cis folks who have told us what they think we should do/think/say/use. We've been told, sharply, that none of us care what they think. One of the natures of privilege is an unfortunate habit to take over; an unfortunate habit to assume one knows more than one does; and a distressing habit of presuming to instruct, inform or order marginalized people, despite the ignorance and sheer arrogance of doing so.
And this is before we consider damned ignorant folks stomping on our sore spots. I dislike having discussions about the "closet" in non-controlled spaces, for example, because I am sick to the back teeth of straight people telling me that [a person hiding his sexuality] is just like them hiding their political belief/religion/vegetarianism/favorite 80s cartoon/whatever other grossly inappropriate comparison they want to make. To say nothing of the constant homophobic response of “AT LEAST YOU CAN HIDE!” Ugh! I am not not not having those discussions again. I’m really not.
So, if you want to efficiently discuss (or vent/rant about) some things, you need to do it where you don’t have a heckling audience of clueless people.
OK, all of this is building up to "the othering". I promise. As for othering…Well, yes, I think some conversations inherently other us. Some discussions we have in straight, cis spaces can be about things that straight, cis people have never experienced and, indeed, can never experience. And that, in and of itself, is othering, simply by calling out unique issues. How can we be anything but other when we’re talking about something so out of the realm of their experience?