By Erin K. Costello
Though no one has a choice over their sexuality, over whether they are gay, straight, or bi-sexual, how you decide to live your life, is a decision. Of course, it's bullshit, having to make this decision. But so long as homophobia is alive and well in the US, gay people run a risk of discrimination, hate, judgement, violence, and sometimes death. It's because of this reality that communities are formed, a support system is built, protections are put in place, and fights for equal rights are waged.
Whether you decide to live an openly gay life, privately gay life, or just live life as a gay person, the threats caused by homophobia are the same. Even someone trying to live a "straight" life can be a risk if, at any time, someone learns your secret. These are all things heterosexual people don't have to think or worry about.
I used to label myself as a bisexual woman. Regardless of who I was in a relationship with, I referred to myself this way. I have slept with both genders, I've had relationships with both men and women, fallen in love with both, and, sadly, have had by heart broken by both a man and woman. Being bi-sexual really means that you are both straight and gay, but usually only living as one, as either gay or straight, at a time. Although I will always find both men and women attractive and am capable of being in a relationship with a man or a woman, I am not currently in a relationship with a woman, and I've been dating a man. So, basically, I am living life as a heterosexual woman.
I don't hide the fact that I am considered bi-sexual. If I'm getting to know a new friend I'll share this about myself. I'll openly talk with friends about ex-girlfriends. I'll never deny this part of myself. But, in some instances, I will claim to be straight. If filling out paperwork for medical treatment, or answering questions to determine any kind of eligibility, trying to assess any risk, or trying to best determine a support system, I will label myself as straight. I live a life that contains little to no risk of my falling victim to bigoted harassment, abuse, threats, or violence. I am not in need of services centered to helping members of the gay community, I am unlikely to require legal services, counseling services, housing, or employment that openly accepts gay people. Straight people are unlikely to discriminate against me for being seemingly straight. I get to enjoy straight privilege without denying myself or sacrificing any part of myself.
The thing that has been bothering me so much for all this time, is Katie Joy and her constant claims of bi-sexuality. I have no desire to play semantics with her claims of same sex attraction, mind you. Let's assume that Katie is bi-sexual, and that she is also both gay and straight. That being said, just like myself, Katie lives a straight life. She is in a monogamous straight marriage. She doesn’t even have any female friends it seems, no one she is close with, no one she’s ever pictured with, so there isn’t even a hint of impropriety surrounding Katie being involved with the same sex. She never even leaves her house unless it’s with her husband, a man. She has little to no risk of harm or discrimination due to her sexuality based on how she lives her life. You see, Katie is not marginalized. Katie, like myself, is living the straight life of privilege.
Maybe it would be one thing if she lived her life as an ally. I understand the desire to bind to people, to join forces, to help fight injustice, and to stand up for people who don’t have an equal voice. I understand the protective instinct for your fellow human and the desire to try and take some of their mistreatment onto yourself, so they can be spared. These are all very brave and compassionate acts. But only if you enact them with humility. It's important to remember that you can always go home safely at the end of the day. You’re not really at risk. You are placing yourself temporarily at risk while with those who are marginalized, and with those who are allies, then you are able to leave and go home to your straight life.
But, Katie doesn't live her life as an ally. Katie doesn’t go to marches, parades, or protests. She doesn’t support or work with any LGBTQ+ organizations or non-profits, she doesn’t bring awareness to any charitable causes. She lives a zero risk life in this regard. She has given no energy, no stress, no courage, no discomfort, even, to any kind of life outside of a heterosexual life. Yet, she demands the same consideration given to those who have sacrificed so much in this fight. She stakes claim to the rewards of others, and demands gratitude for the sacrifices made by those in this fight.
She also demands acceptance for herself from those who would be the bigots; those who already accept her because they find her and her hetero choices fucking acceptable. It’s like she's a white person demanding equal rights from white racists.
She believes herself to be entitled to all the services, perks, protections, and support that have been fought for and won by those who are gay, and who live their life as a gay person.
Katie wants recognition for her courage, even though there was never risk or threat to her safety that required her to find bravery to begin with.
I have concluded this to be "Stolen Gay Valor."
This is no different than someone who has never served our military, dressing up in uniform, claiming to have "seen some shit" in battle, fishing for respect, demanding to be acknowledged for their sacrifice, and then enjoying all the free coffee and donuts on Veteran's Day.
At no point is any of this done in the best interests of others. This is nothing more than a self serving act.