Friday, December 2, 2011

Letter From a Hopeful Place: Bullying

I'm sure all of you know about the anti-bullying campaigns that have been going on across all media outlets for gay people. I have recently been a victim of the opposite kind of bullying - gay insults to straight people. It's absurd, I know, but it inspired me to write this letter that I sent to Ellen Degeneres and Dan Savage. I hope somehow it helps stop the hate.

Dear Dan/Ellen,

I am a single, straight, 30 year-old-woman who lives in Washington, DC. As a straight woman, I do not endure the same hatred that many of my gay friends have to survive day-to-day, however, it has come to my attention recently that I am a victim of another kind of bullying that is well, frankly, absurd.

Last February, I decided to cut my hair really short. Here it is December, and I still have short hair, and I love it, but since I cut my hair, I have determined that no matter how pretty my face is, no matter what clothes I wear, no matter how hard I flirt with boys - if I have short hair, I am automatically categorized as a Lesbian. While this is not in itself an issue (other than it makes what is already a difficult task in DC even more so – finding a decent man), the issue is that I am called a Lesbian by men in a way that is supposed to be an insult.

Perhaps it is a self-defense thing, in that men think if they reject me under the pre- judgment that because I have short hair, that I must be gay, then they in turn will not have to handle the rejection I may send their way if they try to pick me up. Or perhaps, and more horrifying, it is simply satisfying to some men to insult a woman by putting down her sexual orientation. Because I am not gay, I find that I must “defend myself” by proclaiming outright that I am straight. Because it feels like I am under some kind of attack, and must contend my sexuality, in turn, I am afraid that these reactions continue the cycle of hatred that makes bullying a reality.    

How can we overcome this kind of bigotry? How can we make it apparent that attempting to insult a woman by calling her a lesbian is not, in fact, insulting? It seems to me the same thing when boys say something like “that’s gay” in a way to downplay someone’s actions and insult them. People are so afraid of so many things already in this world, I hope that one day someone’s sexual orientation is no longer something to fear or defend.

Thank you for continuing to fight bullying, no matter what kind it is.