3 min

All fagged out

Make space for lesbians

Credit: Xtra West files

I love the fags in my life. To quote Roseanne, “Thank God for gay men. Otherwise us fat girls would have nobody to dance with.” For the dancing and a million other reasons, I am a big homo fan. But some days I find myself about 20 minutes past tired of the excessive fabulousness, the amount of airtime fags demand and their general lack of noticing that anyone else even exists. Take offence if you will, Mary, but you’ve got to admit; gay men take up a lot of space.

It’s a big picture/little picture thing really, the one feeding the other and vice versa thereby perpetuating the problem. Let’s start with the little picture, shall we?

I’m tired of being cut off during conversations. I’m tired of not being able to hear myself think while I drink my coffee because the boys at the next table think the people of Burnaby want to hear their conversation. I’m tired of gay men talking with audacious authority about things they know very little about-like queer women’s lives and issues. I’m tired of the last three letters of GLBT being disregarded (“Give me a G! Give me a yeah, yeah, blabbedy, blah, blah…”). I’m tired of drag queens obliviously saying, “Hey girls!” to butches, bois, drag kings and genderqueer dudes. I’m tired of gay men setting the tone of every single conversation they participate in. Seriously-take a group of butches having a perfectly ordinary conversation about engine combustion or what-have-you; add one gay man and suddenly everyone is saying things like “You go girl!”

But most of all, and here’s where the big picture part comes for those of you taking notes, I’m tired of pretending that our community is free from the sexism women live with every day. Maybe if I saw the men in our community getting behind queer women’s issues and culture they way we live and breathe theirs on a daily basis I wouldn’t be so cranky about the small picture. But they don’t. And I am.

Just because it isn’t hip to point it out anymore doesn’t mean we don’t still live in a patriarchy, people. Within this pesky little social structure, men are privileged over women. If you don’t agree with this statement you can stop reading now because apparently your fairy world involves actual fairies and unicorns and other nice fantasies.

In the big picture, it’s not any one person or group of persons’ fault that sexism still crashes through the world like a drunken uncle after Christmas dinner. Creating social change is an uphill battle-we queers know this only too well. But in the small pictures of their individual lives, too few gay men seem to understand that, in a sexist society, taking responsibility for their male privilege is as important as fighting for their rights as queers.

It’s not just gay men, of course. Men in general are socialized to devalue women. Hell, women are socialized to devalue women. Men who grow up otherwise should be appreciated and perhaps even cloned. The fact that men, gay and straight, continue to treat women as unimportant is not all that surprising. The problem is that gay men should know better.

Be it right or wrong, I don’t expect as much from straight men. Other than trifling concepts like a better world for humankind and improved relationships with over half the world’s population, straight men have no reason to “get it.” As a club, they run the world-what do they care what women think? The only failsafe argument is that, if for no other reason, straight men need women so they have someone to fuck. Gay men have no such need for us. So, what do they need us for?

I could argue that they need us to procreate but the Raelians are working on that one. I could point out that we are their sisters, mothers, co-workers and neighbours but many gay men seem quite content to exist in a social bubble largely devoid of estrogen. No, the answer is three simple words: strength in numbers, baby. I know, I know, that’s four words. The point is, those of us who love differently, fuck differently, express gender differently need to stick together. Too few are taking the space of too many in our world as it is. All I’m asking is why are you contributing to the problem?

To the gay men I share my community with I have this to say: I’m glad that you are out, loud and proud. I understand the importance of your being visible and demanding that the world acknowledge you. But I hate that you so often achieve these things at the expense of women.

I promise I will continue to admire your fabulousness, I will shake my fat ass on the dance floor with you any chance I get, and I will always, always stand boldly beside you and fight for your right to take up space in the world. But I fully expect you to do the same for me. I also ask that you shut the hell up now and then and let me talk because frankly, I’m a little fagged out these days.