Th-Ink Queerly was purposefully founded with a strong mission statement that informs the ethics of the publication and to create alignment with those who wish to contribute to its evolution.
Within the mission statement rests an unspoken set of standards that I wish to more fully address in this post. One of the most important directives stated in the mission is that we as queer thinkers and writers are critical of the status quo. At the same time, we can and should engage/debate our peers, even when we disagree with them.
For us to work together successfully as a community of queer thought leaders we need to be mindful of how we support and treat each other, especially in a debate. This is one of the many ways a minority group of people can together work to affect positive change ; to root out issues of disagreement and to boldly move forward collectively.
How we treat our own dictates how others will treat us
If someone verbally attacks someone else for who they are as a person, as opposed to critically engaging with their ideas ( including shaming or expletives ), they simply have no credibility.
It is too easy — possibly just lazy — to go on the attack. Yet, it’s a part of human nature to want to protect ourselves when we feel threatened, even if the threat is only an idea expressed in writing. However, we all need to better ourselves in this “look-at-me” social media culture of instant gratification and 254-character attacks that lack context, breadth, and any form of empathy or willingness to engage in a balanced dialogue.
LGBTQ+ peoples suffer from minority stress, shame, and self-esteem to varying degrees.
Our anger and frustration at the oppression of our identities, inclusion, and equality often get released upon members of our community. We end up ‘eating our own’ if we don’t agree with something that another queer person says or does.
Worse still are the critical attacks towards the disruptors and innovators — those who dare to share their ideas about an unpopular issue, or to glean the depths of a perceived problem from a filter others may have never considered. Just because someone shares a unique point of view doesn’t mean it’s de facto incorrect. They might not be completely sure what they have stumbled upon, and they may be attempting to unpack a deeper issue that has yet to be fully addressed. This is the nature of disruption and also creativity.
Perhaps instead of immediately going off the rails and finding fault with everything another person wrote, which more often than not becomes in-tangental to what was said, consider what might be right. Is there anything to be learned from what this person wrote? Is there a point of familiarity or similarity to anything they have expressed, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential?
When we perceive injustice or prejudice from within our community we may feel more wounded than we would from heterosexist oppression.
We need to be more empathetic and understanding of our issues as LGBTQ+ peoples, which can be more easily triggered by those with similar experiences. It is simply the requisite practice of being kind, gentle, understanding, and ultimately empathetic such that we do not intentionally seek to hurt our own. More often than not, I believe, we lash out unconsciously in a space that seems safe to do so. How often have you said something more hurtful to your lover or partner than you ever would a stranger? It is proximity that lowers our defences; a Catch-22 for when egos are triggered.
Thinking outside the status quo is a disruptive act
To think and write queerly requires an understanding that binaries like right/wrong, good/bad, gay/straight, cis/trans, and so on, are simply mental constructs. We need to read between the lines, listen to what is not said, and transcend someone’s opinion that isn’t in alignment with what we believe to be correct. We need to find the place from where our disagreement and reaction comes from and then search our way back to the centre — a place of no-binary — where we can witness the complexity of both sides with practiced equanimity.
As Queer Leaders We Oppose Bigotry, Prejudice, and Inequality
Here are a few thoughts on how I believe we can all do and be better:
- We will strive to be careful with our thoughts, judgements, and biases.
- We will pay attention to ensure that what someone says is not taken out of context and used to weaponize or embarrass them, or to ruin something they’ve created.
- We will handle ourselves with personal responsibility for our words and actions, taking ownership of our tone, opinion, criticism, and respectful disagreement.
- We will do better than judge people for isolated incidents. Instead, we will appraise them for the complete context of what they do and say.
- We will consider another person’s words and ideas in the context of which they are presented. If we need clarification, we will ask a specific question about that which we do not understand and we will wait for their answer.
- We will seek to be the best we can be and help others do the best with what they know.
- We will promote an attitude of elevating others and bringing them along with us.
It’s time to rise up!
We can be forceful and eloquent without having to stoop to the level of people who work to bring others down.
We can lead with our words, dialogue, and constructive criticism and analysis. And when we need to, we can take it to the streets.
As queer thought leaders, we shall be appreciated for our powerful, emotionally intelligent, insightful and empathetic dialogue that helps people become more considerate, understanding and willing to thoughtfully engage with us.
Above all, we can choose to be honest and forthright. We will speak the truth because there is nothing to gain from falsehoods and white-lies that only serve self-preservation — the final acts of those who are petty, dishonest, power-seeking, and unforgiving.
‘Humane Rights’ — Not Human Rights
Th-Ink Queerly is a politically charged, sometimes impassioned environment . Given the nature of its mission statement, it risks becoming volatile in the eyes of those afraid of change, controversy, intense criticism and scrutiny, and social disruption. But sharp critique and the necessity of personal responsibility for one’s message is not the same as exclusion. What grounds Th-Ink Queerly is the requisite desire for queer peoples to be heard, to be seen, and to be accepted without conditions.
We will not excuse ourselves for being queer.
As queer peoples, we require complete and unconditional humane rights. To accomplish this noble goal we need to first look within ourselves as the ultimate source of leadership and inspiration for the rest of humanity.