It took me 2 to 3 weeks to write this. Not due to the lack of ability but due to mental exhaustion.
This article is calling for overall accountability for the rainbow community of Columbus. Accountability is desperately needed within the community especially with January 6 showing what 243 years of avoiding accountability can produce.
I have been a part of the rainbow community in Columbus since I was 19. My community has been amazing and I have been given opportunities that were beyond my wildest dreams. I truly have been amazed by the kindness that has come my way.
But sadly the community isn’t as wholesome or cohesive as a pride commercial. This vent is about that part of the community that has weighed on me for some time. And no, this isn’t about shaming or dehumanizing. I wouldn’t write this if I didn’t care.
One of the elephants in Columbus’ room is race. I wrote an article calling it out among cis white gays which was immediately responded to with lazy white privilege talking points. “Stay(misspelled) in your lane and check your blanket statements and racist generalization” was the exact quote from a person who clearly hasn’t examined unconscious bias ever in their life.
I have experienced racism directly and unconsciously with microaggressions. I have been confused for a Black woman who was 5 inches taller than me. I have been referred to as sassy. And if I’m not the sassy Black friend, then I’m a nuisance. I have been hit with the labels aggressive, loud and/or pushy. In their opinion, if I can’t be a prop, what good can I be?
All this even though a Black person threw the first brick or shot glass in the historic event…the historic event the rainbow community mentions so many times it has caused nausea, and to the degree where it somehow erases the uprising in the Compton Cafeteria, when trans sex workers throwing hot coffee on the police. And, of course, no one wants to acknowledge trans persons—especially those of color—and queer sex workers, both of whom are integral to the rainbow community.
A great example of this ongoing disrespect is lesbian members of our community who believe trans people are replacing lesbians. We’re talking Columbus leaders who have openly posted on social media about this. The reasoning behind their posts is the alleged disappearance of lesbians, even though rainbow bars have been on the rapid decline in general.
This is a lazy trans-exclusionary radical feminist ideas. Trans women who identify as lesbians exist. Gender is vast and limitless. I don’t care how woke you were in 1995, but trans people exist, and they have always existed. We must accept that the community is a giant assortment of people. It’s not just white, it’s not just cis, and it’s not always striving for respectability. Some of us are sex workers and some of us are accountants. The simple crime of ignoring parts of the community because we’re not a part of your ideal is awful. This isn’t a plea for attention. I know I am not alone in this. I love you queer Columbus. Truly. But we need to improve.
I am not above dragging myself. I am a “work in progress.” I have made mistakes like any other adult. Nothing that couldn’t be redeemed by counseling and accountability. But on the subject of mental health, my community is wobbly. I have witnessed and experienced personally first-hand that mental illness is palatable…as long as it is like it is in the movies or TV shows.
I get it. You have a heavy sweater and sweatpants. Maybe you’re listening to a sad playlist featuring Sarah McLachlan songs. But when sadness can be unbelievable rage, my anxiety can be perceived as laziness. There are symptoms of mental health that can be ugly and can’t fixed over a commercial break. This isn’t an excuse for damaging behavior, but if someone is drowning, a supposedly “inclusive community” should be lending a hand, not a rock.
An example of this is my almost-suicide attempt on Pride Weekend. If not for a handful of my rainbow family rescuing me, I wouldn’t be typing this. Though I am asking for accountability, there can be a toxic nature to that as well. To paraphrase a quote from Brené Brown’s podcast Unlocking Us, “There will be no unity without accountability. We have got to find a way to hold people accountable in a real non-dehumanizing way.”
Accountability can be great. It can heal people, but it can also be used as a weapon. An example of dehumanizing was when I was dismissed as “crazy” and “a stalker.” I was pushed out of the community by mostly white or white-passing hands. By calling me those things, I was dehumanized so that I couldn’t be seen as a person in crisis. And more importantly, I wasn’t seen as a human.
We have dehumanized sex workers and trans persons so that when they die in ever-growing numbers, we are able to turn a blind eye. It’s not okay just because you are left-leaning. It makes you no better than the right in how you dehumanize those you have deemed as less than.
So how do we practice accountability ethically? Simply be honest and vulnerable. If a person is problematic, bring them in. If they refuse, maybe they have to step out until they are healed. And yes, that may be a person that has social capital, a friend, or a Black person that may ease your white consciousness. And if you notice a problematic relationship speak truth to power on why no one else has addressed it.
We are as strong as we make ourselves.