Let's use stereotypes to combat – rather than perpetuate – hate, as not all stereotypes have negative effects. This will make queer people anti-bigots, writes Larry Nocella.
Our mind is our greatest tool, but used improperly it's our worst enemy, especially when assessing our fellow humans.
To paraphrase Dr. King, the world would be a better place if we judged people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin or any other single trait, especially one as uncontrollable as appearance, gender or sexual orientation. We should let another's actions guide our opinion of them.
But unless you're constantly vigilant, stereotypes of people can creep into your thinking. It's our nature working against us. The human mind so lusts for patterns, we sometimes see them where they aren't. Stars or cloud formations always look like something else, instead of nothing. We observe one person we don't like and if we're not careful, we'll conclude that everyone who matches that person in a single way (even a superficial way) we also won't like.
So we're rightly trained to believe that thinking in stereotypes is unfair. It doesn't give an accurate picture, and yet still we do it, but this is a fast-moving world and whoever finds shortcuts can get ahead.
So I admit what I'm about to propose is risky, but I'm willing to chance it. Enough people who make a huge show of hating gays have been revealed to be gay that I am personally comfortable with allowing this stereotype in my mind: if you hate gays, that's because you are gay.
Refer to recent news for the latest example, the comedy-monologue-ready scandal of George Rekkers, an anti-gay activist who is gay enough to hire an "escort" on Rentboy.com, supposedly to carry his luggage. Sorry, no obvious jokes about heavy packages here. Or handling loads. Or helping get fully packed. Or puns about bags or sacks. None about putting hands on straps. Or leather and zippers. Enough!
Hilarious situations like the Rekkers scandal have happened enough that in my mind, they've crossed from exception to rule. If you hate gays, you are gay. It might not be entirely accurate, but guess what? I don't care and I don't care to do more research. People who are full of hate don't deserve the effort.
The phenomenon of anti-gay gay people is widespread enough to fill a compelling and sad documentary, Outrage. The movie focuses on powerfully-connected politicians who have built careers combating gay rights, while at the same time leaving suspicious clues, witnesses, and hard evidence that they themselves are gay. Outrage should be required viewing for Americans who think we live in a free and tolerant society. We're better than many but we can do much better.
If you hate gays, you are gay. If my suggestion for this new stereotype takes hold, maybe powerful people will no longer be so stridently anti-gay in an attempt to prove they are not gay.
After all, not all stereotypes have negative effects. The stereotype that African-American men are especially well-endowed works for them. Chicks dig it! (As do the lads of Rentboy.com, no doubt.) They say that once you go black, you never go back. To which I say, once you go white you're feeling all right.
See that? Two can play the stereotype game. It's time we started using them to accomplish something other than making us look stupid.
But wait! If we do that, are we any better than any old bigot? I think we are. We'll be anti-bigots. Instead of using stereotypes to perpetuate hate, we're using them to combat hate. It's only in the mind of the hater that "you're gay" ends up being an insult.
Years from now, imagine people saying, "He hates gays, if you know what I mean." Wink!
Larry Nocella writes The Semi-True Adventures of Lar blog at LarryNocella.com. He's the author of the novel Where Did This Come From? the world's first CarbonFree(R) novel according to Carbonfund.org. The book is available on Amazon.com as a paperback and Kindle eBook. It is also available for other eBook readers.