During LGBT History Month, I’ve been attending various social and educational events with colleagues from work. When they found out I wasn’t gay, they labelled me an “LGBT ally”. However, that description doesn’t sit well with me, because of what I perceive to be the expectations they have for LGBTQ+ allies (aka “the gender-sexuality alliance”). And I wanted to explain why I don’t like that label. I have a better label for myself instead…
So we just had LGBT History Month.
I actually attended a few events with some work colleagues.
And one of them asked me whether I was gay or an LGBT ally.
And when I responded I was neither they were really confused.
You see, because I have gay and
and because I’ll willingly attend a lecture on LGBT history,
people will automatically assume I’m an “ally”.
And I’m not an LGBT ally at all.
What I am is a human rights fundamentalist.
Or, in other words, I’m a liberal and I’m a libertarian.
What that means is, if you are a human being
then I will passionately defend your human rights.
And gays are human beings too.
So. anytime the rights of a gay or transgender person are under attack,
I am duty-bound to support them in their struggle.
Now some of you are going to say: “but that’s exactly what being an ally is all about”.
That’s because they’ve misunderstood what i’m saying.
Look, I have a transgender friend.
And, when she told me she was transitioning,
my response was: “yeah, okay, but I don’t really care.”
And she told me it was the best response she’d had,
because she didn’t want to be hated for being trans,
but she also didn’t want to be celebrated just for being trans.
All she wanted was to get on with her life as normal.
She wanted everyone to use her new name and just not make a big deal about it.
And that’s exactly what i did.
I had no comment to make. I had no questions to ask.
We just carried on pretty much as before.
Now, does that make me a trans ally?
I don’t think it does, and I’ll tell you why.
Because, to me, protecting the human rights of LGBT people matters.
Protecting the feelings of LGBT people does not.
So, if you are denied education or housing or employment because you are LGBT
then I have a problem with that.
If you are threatened or physically attacked because you are LGBT
then I have a problem with that.
Because those are all attacks on your basic human rights.
The government should protect your human rights.
And, as fellow citizens, we should be willing to fight to protect your human rights as well.
However, it is not the job of the government to protect your feelings.
Someone’s saying something you don’t want them to, someone hurting your feelings,
is not an attack on your human rights.
It’s merely an attack on your fragile ego.
You can demand protection from violence, and I’ll support you.
But you can’t demand protection from hurtful words and opinions.
And that is where I draw the line, and that is why i am not an LGBT ally.
If someone wants to call you names, or they use pronouns you don’t like,
that’s hurtful and unpleasant for you. I get that.
But it’s not against the law. And it should never be against the law.
Being able to express an opinion without legal consequences
is a vital part of living in a free society.
So, if someone wants to say that “God Hates Fags”
then they should be allowed to do that.
If someone was to say that “Allah will send gays to hell”
then they should be allowed to do that too.
If a shop denies you the right to buy a cake because you’re gay that that’s a problem.
However, if a shop refuses to produce a bespoke, gay-themed wedding cake
because it offends the religious views of the owner
then the rights of that religious cake shop owner take priority.
No-one should have the right to limit what opinions can be expressed.
And no one should be forced to express opinions they disagree with.
I passionately believe that everyone has the right
to express their social, political, and religious views.
Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right.
And, as far as I’m concerned, it is an unqualified human right.
Meaning it’s a right that should never be denied under any circumstances.
And there are plenty of people out there who claim to support freedom of speech,
but only so long as you are saying things they agree with.
And this happens on both the left and the right wing
But, the simple fact is that if your support for free speech stops
the moment someone says something you don’t like, then you are a fascist.
Living in a free society has a price.
And the price is that you will have to tolerate
views and opinions that you find offensive.
As Salman Rushdie has quite eloquently pointed out:
“The defence of free speech begins at the point where people say something you can’t stand.”
“If you can’t defend their right to say it then you don’t believe in free speech.”
And he’s absolutely spot-on. If you want freedoms for yourself,
then you must defend the freedoms of others.
Even when you don’t really want to.
So, I will always fight for freedom of speech.
And, if you are part of the LGBT community,
then you should be fighting for it too.
And not just because the right to express yourself
is a right that has been denied to queer people for centuries.
But because the moment you remove
freedom of speech,
the moment you start to limit freedom of expression,
you are opening the door to fascism.
And, when fascism takes hold,
chances are, YOU will be the first
ones sent to that gas chamber.
So, just be careful what you wish for.
Anyway, to sum it up:
I don’t give a f*** about your feelings.
I only care about your human rights.