A few weeks ago, I sent an e-mail to a fellow blogger. In the e-mail, I asked her if I could write a guest post for her blog. A day later, I got an e-mail response from her telling me that I couldn’t be featured on her blog because… I was gay.
I was shocked, too.
Now, for the sake of convenience, let’s call this individual “A.” (In case you were wondering, “A” is not anywhere near this individual’s actual initials. I am not interested in calling this person out, but, unfortunately, I am going to have to still use her gender because it’s very confusing if you write in English without referring to a person’s gender, as you might know.)
Anyways, I had asked to write a guest post for “A”’s blog. Finally, I got a response from “A” and, as I said, she told me that I couldn’t be featured on her blog because I was gay.
Yup. Still shocked.
She didn’t explain exactly why she thought featuring an openly gay man on her blog would be a problem. (I didn’t say I was going to talk about being gay in the guest post, nor was I secretly planning to do so.) She just said she didn’t feel “comfortable” with me writing a guest post for her blog.
I don’t know. Maybe “A” feared that if she featured an openly gay blogger on her blog that a disco ball would immediately drop from her ceiling, rainbow confetti would shoot out from her laptop, and scantily clad gay muscle men would try to dry hump her while “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga played in the background.
I have no idea.
But that was it. That was her reply to me. Yeah. Still shocking.
Now, on my blog, I don’t keep it a secret that I’m an openly gay man. In fact, I think I’ve made it pretty clear in every way possible way that I’m an openly gay man without actually stating that I’m an openly gay man. I do this because I’m not particularly interested in shoving my sexuality in people’s faces every day.
The reason I’m not interested in consistently stating that I’m an openly gay man on my blog (other than the fact that I really shouldn’t have to constantly state that I’m an openly gay man on my blog) is because being gay is only a part of me. For me, it’s just a matter of fact. It’s not really a big deal.
You see, I am a very complex, multifaceted individual. Being gay, although it’s a very cherished part of who I am, is not all of me. It’s only a part of me.
I’m not just a gay man, I’m also a Latino. I’m also bilingual. I’m also a Californian. I’m also 26. I’m also a fiction writer, a blogger, a freelancer, a film lover, a former member of a High School Parliamentary Procedure team that won second place at Nationals (Future Business Leaders of America, HOLLA!), a Stanford graduate (go THE COLOR RED!), a former drama geek (go CHEKOV!), a wisdom seeker, a colleague, a friend, a brother, a son, a grandson, a proud citizen of these United States, a guy who ran a 5k and keeps postponing running a 10k because (let’s face it) he’s lazy, and most importantly a Battlestar Galactica superfan.
And even all of that still covers only about ¼ of who I am!
But I realize that all that “A” saw of me was that I was gay. For her, the incredibly complex human being I was had been immediately eclipsed by my sexual preference.
The fact that I was a good, compassionate fellow human being didn’t matter to her. What mattered to her was that she was “uncomfortable” with a part of me, and so she decided to reject, and humiliate, all of me.
Yup. Still shocking.
Well. What can I say? Her reply hurt. It still hurts. It was painful. Humiliating. It has made me feel very paranoid.
After I received her reply, I immediately shared this incident with family, friends, and even fellow bloggers. They were all more outraged than I was. They thought I should call this person out, have people boycott her and her blog.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was just not my style.
I received an outpouring of love, support, and understanding from these friends, family, and fellow bloggers, and I respected and understood why they would want me to call this person out.
But I knew that, in the end, I had to deal with this incident in the way that best suited me.
So, I decided that, rather than focus on “A” and the hate her and others may harbor towards gay people, like me, I decided to, instead, focus on fostering more love and acceptance in our community.
Now, this discrimination incident may have happened to me, but I believe it should concern everyone in our community because it threatens the kind of loving, open, and accepting environment the vast majority of us are trying to create.
This incident should concern you because if I can be discriminated against because of my sexual identity then what can stop other people from discriminated against you, or someone else you care about, simply because of who they are?
There does need to be some sort of response to this incident—at least in order to make sure no one else in the community is discriminated against for who they are. But we don’t have to fight hate with hate. We can fight hate with love.
Therefore, I am going to do two things today to help address this incident, and help spread the message of love and acceptance into the world:
- I’m going to introduce my new non-discrimination policy. (Actually I’ve always had this policy, but the good thing is that now it’s written down and will be on my About page so that everyone can see it): “Courage 2 Create is committed to the principle of equal opportunity when it comes to choosing its guest bloggers and choosing who gets to engage in discussions. Everybody is welcome to share and read the content provided here. This blog does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, ancestry, national or ethnic origin, or whether or not you are a Battlestar Galactica fan. Although, if you are not a BSG fan, you may never fully understand my consistent usage of the word “frak” as a suitable replacement for profanity. But that’s okay. I accept you as you are, and love you as you are.” That’s it. That’s my non-discrimination policy. I invite you to write up a similar policy of your own and put it up on your own blog so that it’s clear that your blog is a loving and accepting environment for people of all stripes.
- Start a discussion: This is a blog, after all, and part of the way we deal with these types of issues in the blogging world is through a good ol’ community discussion. So, I wanted to ask you: how did you feel now that you’ve learned about this incident? Have you experienced a similar incident yourself? Or have you experienced another type of discrimination, or insensitivity, in the writing or blog world? If you did, how did the experience feel? What did you do about the incident? And finally: what steps do you think we as a community can, or should, take in order to make sure that this kind of thing doesn’t happen to anyone else?
I invite you to enter this discussion in the comments below.
Please, after you’re finished, I invite you to address this issue on your own blog and then ask your readers to join in on the discussion. (If you do this, please let me know so that I can then link to your post in this post.)
These two actions, I hope, will demonstrate that our community is one full of love and acceptance—a place where hate and bigotry are simply not welcome.
One thing before I end this: I want to give a special thanks to my family, my friends, and my fellow bloggers who have really helped me through this one. Their love and support gave me the strength and perspective I desperately needed.
I also would like to make it clear: the vast majority of bloggers I have come into contact with over the past two years are amazingly inclusive, supportive, and very loving individuals. They would NEVER do what “A” did. The vast majority of them don’t have a hateful bone in their body.
So please don’t feel as if there are many “A”‘s out there. “A,” I have come to learn, is in a very small minority.
But I do have to say that, in the future, I will personally be looking out for non-discrimination policies on blogs to make sure where I am welcome and where I am not.
Finally, to conclude:
Although this incident has been painful to me, I will be fine. I always have been, and I always will be fine. I have plenty of people in my life who love and support me for who I am, and that’s what keeps me going strong, happy, and determined.
So, don’t you worry about me.
I ain’t going anywhere, and I never will.
How do you feel now that you’ve learned about this incident? Have you experienced a similar incident yourself? Or have you experienced some other type of discrimination or insensitivity in the writing or blogging world? How did the experience feel? What did you do about this incident?
And finally: what steps do you think the community as a whole can take to ensure that this kind of thing doesn’t happen again? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
>>> Update: Wow, what a tremendous response, readers! Thank you so much for all your love and support. For an update on this incident, please go here. Thanks!