Unfortunately, My Humanity Is Up For Debate
There’s a phrase I hear a lot, when it comes to left politics. “My humanity is not up for debate.” We must not engage with our political enemies, because our humanity is not up for debate. Our humanity must be accepted as a pre-requisite for engaging. Unless they accept that, there can be no discussion.
It’s a nice idea. From certain perspectives, especially those of people who live in liberal neighborhoods, or on college campuses, or acitvist meeting sessions, or spend their days on the internet talking about politics, it’s a good one. Our humanity is not up for debate. As a member of the LGBT community, my humanity should not be questioned, it should not be a topic of discussion.
Unfortunately, though, my humanity is up for debate. Believe me, I don’t like it either. I think I should be able to love whomever I want. It’s ridiculous, it’s stupid even, that I should be asked to convince people that I deserve basic human dignity. If it weren’t so tragic, it would be funny. People seriously wonder if I know what’s going on inside my head? Far as I know, I’m the only guy in there! You’re gonna look at a person made of flesh, meat, and blood, and ask if I’m sure I’m human? Unless we’re talking about philosophy-zombies, what more do you need. Should I take my shirt off so you can see the belly button and know there’s no cloning going on? Come on.
But it’s not funny. It IS tragic. Homophobia, transphobia, racism, and sexism have serious costs. People get hurt. People die. I almost died. I don’t know of many people in this community who haven’t been threatened or attacked at some point. Might exist, and good for them, but we’ve never met.
And that’s the problem. It’s really easy to say my humanity’s not up for debate, but the sad truth of the matter is, that it is. People are debating it all the time. They go on TV. They go to church altars on Sundays. They go to lecture halls. They hold tent revivals and meetings and put millions of dollars into research meant to prove that I’m not quite okay as a human.
And I’m going to say my humanity’s not up for debate?
Damn sure looks like it is! Looks to me like there’s millions of dollars going into debating my humanity. The Vice-President of the United States has made it pretty damn clear that he doesn’t believe in it, and that guy’s a heartbeat away from the presidency. If Donald Trump — A man who loves steak, travels constantly, and holds the most stressful job in the country — Has a heart attack, that guy’s in charge of the country now. And let’s be honest, Donald Trump is hardly a bastion of acceptance himself. And I’m supposed to sit here and not try to change people’s minds on that?
Yeah, my humanity’s not up for debate. And I’m not broke in a one-bedroom apartment. And my dad’s not so ravaged by cancer that he looks like a damn skeleton and can barely croak out words. And my boyfriend’s not stuck living with abusive relatives ’cause they paid for his college and he can’t leave ’til he pays them back.
And if you haven’t figured it out by now, all that stuff is true. And so is the fact that, yes, my humanity IS up for debate. People are debating it RIGHT NOW.
To steal a buzzword, don’t gaslight me. Don’t tell me that this isn’t happening.
There shouldn’t be a debate. There shouldn’t be a question. There shouldn’t be a conversation. But there is. I may not like the debate, I may think it shouldn’t exist, but it’s happening. I shouldn’t have to fight for basic rights. But I do. I may not think I should have to convince people who think I don’t exist, or don’t deserve rights, but those people exist and there’s enough of them to effect me. So if I don’t convince them, I don’t get rights.
Unfortunately, my humanity is up for debate. Maybe not for compromise, but damn sure for debate. The debate’s happening. Which means my only choice is to go out there and win.
Because I may not have been on the debate team in highschool, but I’m pretty sure you don’t win by not showing up.