Is the queer Left ‘shoulding’ each other into oblivion?

Liberal guilt is a double-edged sword in the wrong hands. Having a mind toward equality and away from privilege is one thing. Misguided needs to prove our wokeness, especially when the real work hasn't been done, is an entirely different matter. Meet two queers crossing boundaries in this week's advice column.

Q:

My partner and I adopted a newborn over the holidays, and I am already mortified over a situation that I fear I created.

My two-month old broke into screams and tears when a black colleague leaned over her. It’s the first time she’s seen a black person, and even though I made an excuse about her being tired, it was obvious that she was afraid of his dark skin. 

I’m even more worried because my baby’s birth parents are Asian. As white mothers, I fear we’ve made a mistake by not exposing her to more folx of color before now.

How should I follow up with the colleague, and what should I do about my baby?

Dear White People:

You created a situation alright, but not the one you think. Too many Caucasian queers are so focused on intersectionality in society that we forget to put our own house in order.

Your discomfort with people of color and issues of race sends chills up my spine, and I wasn’t even there. While it is outdated to ask you to be “color blind,” it’s also wrong to be so “color aware” that you come off as awkwardly as any racist would in that situation. 

A two-month old cried when a stranger stuck his head in her crib. It is a total non-event — except for your reaction. At that age, everyone she sees brings new stimuli. Apart from lining up people of different races to file past her crib on a daily basis, you’ve exposed her to various people as they cross your path over the last couple of months — you know, like real life is.

Now, if you anticipate that having your infant around only white people is going to be an actual problem rather than an invented one, please do diversify your circles. It might do you as much (or more) good as your daughter. 

You’re not even a little bit ready to address this with your colleague. He understands it better than you do, and catching you up is not his job. Let this one go, and concentrate on staying out of your own way.

Q:

There is this guy in my friend group who won’t let anyone say anything bad — ever. I get it when others are catty behind people’s backs. This is a whole other level.

One friend was talking about how his ex-boyfriend hurt him. This guy interrupted to say, “but we don’t talk bad about our exes.” 

When I was asked my opinion on a local queer play that was so bad it sent people bailing at intermission, this person said, “but we keep our opinions to ourselves and support all queer arts.”

When confronted, he says that bullying suffered by disenfranchised people leaves negativity unacceptable in all forms.

I don’t even know where to begin.

Dear Peppy Patty:

Policing, judging and shaming each other have become troublesome hallmarks of liberal existence. Not only is it presumptuous, it’s often pretentious to engage in these weird, sanctimonious head games. What’s worse, such infighting and intolerance divides us against our enemies.

Your acquaintance is hurting over discrimination and inequality, but passing judgments about your behavior misdirects his own emotions. Acting like negativity isn’t there doesn’t make it go away, and it’s rude to shut people down.

Still, even once we understand his motivations, you can't let his issues become your problem. Conflict avoidance on his part does not create a “should” on your part.  Grownups get to pick their battles and can choose whether to engage each other about them.

When he pulls these disruptive tactics, have some statements prepared. “I disagree, and as I was saying…,” or “You’ll get your turn,” or “Let me finish.” 

Give zero more fucks about his judgments, and give him an earful if he persists.

The Q is for entertainment purposes and not professional counseling. Send your burning Qs to [email protected]

Illustration by Brad Gibson

This column originally appeared in Q magazine. Read the latest issue, enjoy all of the past editions of The Q advice column, and look for a new issue of Q each week online and around town.