How much respect do we deserve?

By | 2013/05/20

RespectAs a minority group, the GBLTI community often has to deal with vicious attacks from bigoted members of the broader community. This is something we collectively rail against. Treat us with respect, we cry. It’s a valid demand – respect is something that should be accorded to all people, of course.

Then you wake up on a Sunday morning to unsolicited, unprompted messages like the above. They’re not unique, of course. For me, it’s at least fortnightly. For others, even more regularly.

There’s all sorts of techniques for dealing with those messages. Some people argue back, some people simply block, and others ignore. Personally, I choose to respond with a single short burst of unmitigated vitriol and contempt. It’s even had a really positive result a few times, eliciting an apology for poor behaviour. I’m not, after all, a fighter. I may look like some intimidating bikie, but I’ve never swung a fist in my life. On the other hand, language is my passion, and in these cases, my sword.

And there’s a reason I respond so strongly to such random vindictiveness, of course. It’s for all the people who get messages like that, and become thoroughly depressed about their self image; for the people who delete their profiles, withdrawing just that little bit more from happiness, and for the people who are unable to mentally shield themselves from the random attacks of gutless wonders.

It’s easy to demand that the GBLTI community be treated with respect and compassion. Do we deserve it though, in the face of those sorts of messages? Of course, those messages aren’t representative of the average GBLTI community member. So yes, of course, we do deserve the respect of the broader community.

We also deserve respect within our own community. We mustn’t forget that bigotry and bullying is embedded in our community as well as the broader community.

Silence and ignorance is complicity.