Musings on Difference
I can be Queer, Non-Binary, Lesbian, or [insert label] yet my white skin provides me with a space to exist without question, but even when my expression of self is questioned or I am bullied or harassed by strangers, it is usually, if not always, by white people. How can a desire for sameness also breed such hatred for differentiation of expression? Why don’t people love you harder if you seem to be straying from their way? This limited scope, this desire for a certain type of whiteness is the magnification of fear of the other. Do they ask themselves why they do it? It is silly to continue splitting us, we will never be the same.
Growing up in a small, white, farming community, I was tested every day by the same kids looking to get under my skin. Perhaps that is all it was, they would have preferred to be me, literally under my skin, wearing my life instead of theirs. My parents did not force me to be someone, or like anyone. Sure they had expectations, but they were attainable and logical.
I was not taught to demean others or treat people differently, I understood from an early age that you get what you give. These kids would spend so much time harassing me and I could never understand why, you know, if they hated me, they would spend so much of their time on me. Usually when I disliked something, like chores or going to bed early, I would try my best to avoid it, not harp on it and draw attention to myself…
I could never grasp why someone would want to waste their time on this earth trying to destroy my sense of self, my sense of belonging. I would smile as they taunted me, thinking to myself that for someone this unattractive, gay, queer, and whatever else, they sure wanted to spend time with me, even if it meant hating on me, they knew my name, they knew my face. So I called it a win, and when I would go home, all of that vanished, my family accepted me for who I am, I never felt unsafe.
So, I figured out quickly that telling the authorities was the only way to stop the harassment, and I utilized the principal’s office when necessary, and luckily, the threat of an imperfect student record was enough to quell the haters attacks. Being labelled a homophobe, a racist, a bigot, close-minded, was enough to get them to back off. Labels, it seems, win the day. Or at least they silence it.
Overall, most of my schoolmates were kind, but I was accepted in a non-verbal way, mostly, more-so like they knew there was nothing they could do about it, so why talk about it. I know now that this is what they were going for. A form of silence that would allow them to feel safe, and for me to stay quiet, muted, and in the background so as not to threaten their safety.
The war on queerness, on difference, in my small town, had many of us scrambling, and luckily, we found each other. There was a culture of displaced youths and as loners we all fit in. That fluctuating group of kids felt stable, but it was fragile because we were not talking about what brought us together.
Now, why am I writing all of this? Well, even though I have been gay-bashed, physically harmed by strangers, and overall, not treated well by white-hetero males, and some females, I still feel that I am accepted by the larger part of our society, and I am very grateful for that.
I often feel like my coming out story does not exist. That I was simply out, or Caprice. I was safe enough in that community, yet always afraid. I could not let my guard down. So, because I have been granted this marginal space of acceptance while also feeling generally unsafe in public, I believe it is important for me to speak up. This intersection of white skin and queerness, femme body shape and non-binary identity, androgyny and the masculine-lesbian vibe, provides me with a shroud that I want to utilize in a positive way.
Growing up, my role models were slim because I did not know who I was or what I was trying to be, or why I would want to emulate anyone. I was not looking to label myself as anything, society was doing that for me. I had to ask my mom what a lesbian even was, since the kids figured it out before I did. The teachers in school were just as afraid to let their truth show. Our student body was vicious and looking for its next victim every day.
For someone like me, who cannot help but express myself honestly and for myself, I was a sitting duck. I went against the status quo and what was expected of me as a “girl” and everybody noticed that. Except me, since I needed to be informed on what made me “me”… or “a girl”… by the others. Why did they feel so secure in this knowledge of classification? Who got to tell us how things are or should be? And why did they trust them? Only 2 genders? That seems quite limiting… and unimaginative… I guess playtime is over…
Again, I am writing this because I want to share more of myself with the world. I am not afraid to be myself but I have limited the ways I share because it is daunting to be vulnerable. But I am here, I am ready, and I want to utilize my voice in life to ensure that LGBTQ2+ individuals are heard and that our community is provided the space and love that it so greatly deserves. We all win when we speak up.
I intend to open up so that people everywhere can feel safe in doing the same. The more we show ourselves the more “normal” our existence will become, and just like those loud taunts and mean kids attempted to drown out my individuality with their words, I too, can erase their whiteness and sameness by making my voice the loudest. I hope you will join me in my quest to get loud and persevere!
Reciprocity. The idea that you give and take in a mutual way, you mutually benefit one another, you strengthen a relationship through mutuality and shared resources. That you get what you give philosophy which has never been more significant to me than it is right now. If we spent more of our lives giving what we hoped to get back, wouldn’t we be better off? If the wealthiest individuals got richer by sharing, don’t you think they would open their accounts?
That being said, I want to connect my experience of homophobia and maltreatment to the serious issue of how we treat others, but namely how our nation, Canada, has treated its First Peoples. I in no way mean to draw an equal comparison, I only wish to share my experience so as to highlight how we are all affected by the actions and the history of our predecessors. I intend for my words to help and shed light on the issues that have been attempting to erase Indigenous Nations in Canada with the hope of bringing more people to the fight for Indigenous rights and human rights.
I believe it is important to mention an initiative here in British Columbia, an initiative of reciprocity. In British Columbia, Canada, the settlers have lived for over one hundred and fifty years rent-free. As a society we have benefited from the colonial enterprise of our ancestors and the current government. The cultural genocide of Indigenous Nations, the murders of Indigenous children, the missing and murdered Indigenous women, and the harms done to these people, their nations, and their humanity are the direct result of a colonial enterprise that is still alive today.
We must reckon with these truths if we are to reconcile with our Indigenous brethren. If we are actually serious about truth and reconciliation in Canada, we must acknowledge the unfair, unjust, and unlawful treatment of Indigenous people’s at the hands of our own government. We must admit our active role in accepting this behaviour by finally standing up against it, seeking forgiveness, and making changes that create prosperous relationships between Nations. We can start by showing reciprocity and giving back to the Nations whose land was stolen by our government and predecessors. One such way to do so is through Reciprocity Trusts.
Reciprocity Trusts is an initiative to put money back in the hands of Indigenous Nations so they have control over how to prioritize the funds. As home owners, business owners, or renters, we pay rent or property taxes that do not filter back to the true owners of the land. By committing to a payment plan you are acknowledging Indigenous Lands and Indigenous Rights, and going beyond the statement of acknowledgement of unceded territories and toward progressive action. If we all chip in one percent of what we pay in rent or mortgages we can provide tangible proof that our actions align with our words.
I hope that you will consider making the pledge and donating today.
When I talk about my privilege as a white person, it all comes back to this, the stolen land, the unmarked graves of children, the general hatred of the other, the desire for colonizers to erase the other, and how that has trickled down into our current society, so much so that even whites that express difference are also shunned from the “white” society. This is WRONG. What good has this hatred done? We must strive to make reparations for these actions and begin the process of dismantling the colonial agenda which we are all affected by.
Those kids who assaulted me, who harassed me, are products of this regime of white settlers, and they too are negatively affected by it. Who wants to live like that? They too have inherited a bogus hand of hatred and fear. I believe we can work together to encourage community and reciprocity, and it begins with recognizing our privilege and it starts with giving voice, recognition, and financial support to the Indigenous Nations close to home and around the world.
It has been said before that there is strength in numbers, and that is precisely what they are afraid of. The marginalized are becoming the majority, the scales are tipping, difference is becoming popular, whiteness is a sinking ship. What if all their fear and hatred was geared up for just this moment? But instead of beating us all down they actually inspired us to be stronger, inspired us to deviate from their binary norms and heteronormative cookie cutters. What if the very thing they were afraid of was exactly what they sparked with their hatred?
I guess they call that a self-fulfilling prophecy and you really do have a right to be fearful, but not for the reasons you think.
Not only has the culture of hate divided human beings along invented lines of difference, it has also created major wealth disparities and fueled the climate crisis. As long as we are at each other’s throats, convinced that there is any hierarchy of human existence, we will continue to blindly consume and exploit the earth, one another, and our own life time’s. And none of this will matter in the slightest if the Earth is devoid of human life. The Earth will outlive us all but we are too busy, distracted by the fleeting nuances of society to recognize we have it all wrong.
Our consumer culture has never really stopped cannibalising the other. We just call it progress now. We need to come together to defend the Earth and the Indigenous people’s of the world who deserve an end to this ongoing genocide.
If there are no humans left on Earth, will our history make a sound?