Silence in the face of prejudice makes you complicit in the action.
I am a coward.
The new Beauty & the Beast movie that just came out features an openly gay character-lovely LeFou. It's been long speculated that he was gay, but I guess there's a scene where it's blatantly obvious. I mean, it's fuckin great. Of course, not everyone thinks it is.
A woman walked into the office this afternoon and declared, "Whatever you do, do NOT see the new Beauty and the Beast movie. Just don't. Don't take your kids to see it."
I immediately knew what she was referring to. I joined the chorus of "Why not?"'s.
She said ominously, "The movement has started." She stared at us with hard, wide open eyes; it was as if she were trying to beam her thoughts to us so she didn't have to speak them. It was quite for a moment, and one of my coworkers said, "What do you mean?"
She kept her eyes wide and looked at us intensely. "There's a scene where one of the characters...". She then gestured with her hand and made her wrist go limp.
I think most of us were surprised at her horror; we sat in silence. She mouthed, "Homosexuality"; it was a topic so dirty to her that she didn't dare use her voicebox to talk about it. A couple coworkers just said, "Ooooh," and continued to type their way through the day.
One coworker came out of her office to engage. She leaned on a counter with her face on her hand and shook her head. "It's a shame."
"I mean, it's a kid's movie! It's not that I can't stand those people. I have someone in my family with that, and I have someone in my family who is transgender. I love them dearly. But some things should stay sacred! Kids' movies should be sacred!" She said with that as if it were a disease.
"Nothing is sacred anymore," the other coworker spat.
The conversation died.
I wanted to say so many things, and ask even more. Why can't kids know about homosexuality? Is that an adult topic? Do you think kids who have crushes on other kids never crush on a child that is the same gender? How do you love someone so dearly but speak of their sexuality as if it is a condition, a disease, an illness? You don't think that bringing it up to younger kids will make those who might be homosexual feel less alone? Or do you think it encourages homosexuality? If it does, then wouldn't heterosexual relationships on movies and TV we see encourage heterosexuality? How much are you fighting those other causes, or is homosexuality a special cause for you?
I don't expect answers that I'm willing to accept. They're usually tied to religion and the perceived wrongness or deviance of homosexuality. I just like to force people to explain their prejudice and biases.
I will question you into the ground.
But I was tired. I get tired of speaking up when people say stupid shit.
But that is my hetero-privilege. I'm never scared to publically display affection to my husband. I never worry about our marriage suddenly being delegitimized because the wrong man was voted into office. If I get tired of fighting, I can look away and pretend the conversation never happened.
I will do better next time.
*Image from http://www.avclub.com/article/beauty-and-beast-will-be-first-disney-movie-featur-251283