Something I always want to talk about publicly but try to rein in (& you all know how bad I am at reining it in) is how we (in the communities I most strongly identify with) just still haven’t figured out how to hold our loved ones and ourselves accountable and really do deep transformative work in which we can atone for our wrongs. Even though many of us engage in restorative or transformative justice or other healing/transformative work professionally, it doesn’t always translate to our personal relationships. We all make mistakes, and that’s totally human & fine, but if we’re not taking responsibility, apologizing, learning, & doing our best to develop new, less harmful, hopefully kinder behaviors, that is definitely *not* fine.
One note I want to make here is that obviously my personal experiences have colored this assessment – but none of this is about any one or two people. This isn’t me dragging anyone – this is, even more unfortunately, me, my friends, and my community having experienced these situations so many times that I feel I have to write about these troublesome trends.
Common themes I am chewing on currently:
*** Charismatic “movement leaders”/queerlebrities who are deeply problematic in personal and professional relationships, but get away with just about anything due to a combination of being good-looking, being charming, and having mastered their own personal PR machine.
I find that when these people have wrecked things to the point where enough folks in their current area have heard “bad things” about them, they often pick up & move to a different metropolitan area, right into a similar community, and start again.
Where are these people’s people? Do you have a friend who you have seen engaging in these patterns? Have you noticed they leave all of their jobs on bad terms or that none of their exes will speak to them? Do you really care about them? If you feel at all safe and able to do so, it might be worth checking in about it. For real. Because often these people shut out & shut down the people they have hurt, trying their best to make them look bitter/angry/crazy (hey there, social media shade!) & thus unreliable – as well as *not engaging* with them. Someone has to do it – if you have capacity, it should be you.
*** Masc queers who are deceitful in their personal/romantic relationships, often gaslighting femmes or pitting more feminine people against each other. This can include straight up cheating if monogamous, or being open/poly & then violating agreements and using polyamory as an excuse, as though it means you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. As in the category above, often these folks do whatever possible to try to make the person or people they have hurt seem unreasonable in their complaints, and bitter/angry/crazy.
Do you have a friend who only has “crazy bitches” as exes? Can you do us all a solid & step on in there & have a little chat? Again, they’ve probably shut out & refused to engage with the folks who really know what’s up, & someone’s gotta do it. Take one for the team here, friend.
There is unfortunately a lot of overlap in these categories. There are unfortunately a lot more categories. These are just the ones I’m stuck on right now.
I know the world does not love us enough. I know that those of us who are disabled/sick/crazy, who are poor, who don’t have degrees or advanced degrees, who are laborers or unemployed or service industry lifers or hustlers or non-profit workers, who are immigrants, who are women or femmes, who are people of color, who are queer & trans, who work for justice, who don’t benefit from or connect to blood family the way society says we should – we always have an uphill battle ahead of us. In fact, none of the existing systems are for us or will save or heal us. So we do what we can. We build new systems and groups and institutions – slowly – and all of these are made up of individuals in relationship to other individuals.
I believe that these little steps we can take, like being brave enough to tell a friend, lovingly, when we see that they’re fucking up, are small but important tools in dismantling all of the bullshit, like patriarchy, etc. We might not be able to take down every oppressive system and replace them with beautiful & just ones tomorrow, but we can make progress & make life a little softer & more livable for those around us. Those of us who have capacity & are in privileged positions just need to be willing to get a little uncomfortable.
#CallOutCulture #CallInCulture #CallItWhateverYouWant #CheckYourHomies