As a child, I always thought gay men were funny. My favorite movie was Too Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar (1995). I didn’t understand why men would dress as women, but at age 9 I figured it was just a comedic part as clowns dress up at birthday parties. Little did I know that it represented a lifestyle. Fast forward to age 18 and you’ll find an Atlanta college student dating a DL brother who was a tad wobbly, and threw what I like to call “bitch fits,” but was still my world. After we broke up, I heard rumors he was hangin tight with the OUT and proud but I defended him (even though I wouldn’t be surprised). Five years later he came out to me. Surprise Surprise. I wasn’t shocked a bit. We became BFF’s.
Yea, I know that sounds super odd but our relationship was very pure. No sex, No fondling, No french kisses. I guess those shoulda been signs right?! Either way it worked itself out. During our BFF tenure, I saw inside the world of a gay man. A world where men become depressed because they constantly pray, asking God to “take away the gay.” Other men feel the urges, but aren’t ready to confront it so they sneak around like that Kill Bill chick watching her prey. The last bunch makes a conscious decision to own it. They are OUT and proud.
The funny think about people is, we want them to act how we think they should act. Homosexual simply means that you want to find love in a same sex relationship. Nothing more. Yet, if a homosexual black man who still acts like a MAN is OUT and proud….we don’t accept it in our minds. Those type of men don’t even come to mind when we think “gay.” When we vote on issues affecting homosexuals we do so with images of men with tiny shorts, smiles, and jazz hands flying through our heads.
[i promise this post isn’t about gay men but i need to build it properly]
When any sort of legislature is passed that positively affects the LBGT community, it is done with….well images of Richard Simmons on a rope swing. Yet, if any legislature that blocks civil rights of the LBGT community it seems to be done with images of the Too Wong Foo pose in mind.
Never do we picture a John McCain type when we picture members of the LGBT community. In fact, people say: “Why can’t [they] be discreet. Why do [they] have to be so vocal? I’m not against gays, but Why can’t they be like that quiet gay couple down the street who keep to themselves and don’t go prancing around?”
It is apparent human nature to discriminate against only that which we can see AND makes us uncomfortable. Thus, it is the product of human nature to pass legislature revolving around those who fit the description of the apparent group being discriminated against (i.e the Richard Simmons & Too Wong Foo’s of the world). As a result, a percentage of the group being discriminated against, yet not belonging to the APPARENT group being discriminating against end up being discriminated against twice. Now that’s some bubble gum bullshit.
Let me put it into context for you: On the same night, two houses, each inhabited by a member of the LGT community, is vandalized. Both homes receive a paintball beating, are teepee’d, egged, and get hate messages spray painted on their garage doors. The only differing factor is the lifestyle of the household member.
Household #1 consists of two “Fraiser” like men. They are refined, love to attend operas, and host wine tasting parties. Household #2 is made up of 3 friends: A flamboyant male hair stylist, a female impersonator, and a stereotypical stud.
- Which incident takes precedence on the 10 o’clock news?
- Which household will generate the most press and will provoke more raw emotion?
- Which family unit will generate a twitter trend topic?
- Which story will the women on The View spend more time discussing?
- Whose picture will get shown?
What do you see?
It’s not rocket science. This is the symbol that typically denotes an area is reserved for the physically handicapped or disabled. You already knew that though. Our brains have been conditioned to associate a wheelchair with being disabled. Not just when looking for a good parking spot, but also when looking at people. A physically disabled person is someone in a wheelchair, with a cane or is missing a body part. A mentally disabled person is a person that has mental retardation or down syndrome. Pretty easy to spot.
Then there’s me.
I have fibromyalgia (www.fmaware.org). I am physically disabled, but not visibly disabled. While I may not require the same accommodations as a visibly disabled individual, by law, it is still required that you accommodate me in some way shape or form. So what’s the problem….
You tell me.
This disconnect seems to be based on the concept of truth. Since many of my symptoms are not visible and are not predictable as to when or on what level they will affect me, I am left with the burden of proof that they actually exist. Suddenly I’m fighting an invisible war where no one has the balls to come out and say…your lying. Instead I am told: “We cannot accommodate you because….”
- Your symptoms are vague
- Your symptoms are varied and are disconnected
- I don’t understand what symptom x has to do with symptom y
- We need more details on exactly when and how you are affected
To put this into context, the people telling me these things are my school, Rockhurst University located at 1100 Rockhurst Rd, Kansas City, MO 64110(feel free to send letters of protest and/or outrage). I apologize that I was not struck with a simpler syndrome. I am truly sorry I inconvenienced the university by picking the most complicated illness from the list of sicknesses I was presented with. Apparently, I must have arrived late and all the good stuff was already gone. Straight Bullshit.
I find it amusing and highly perplexing that people with no medical training (PhD) are placed in a position of power to discredit those with at least 10 years of medical training and another couple of decades of medical practice under their belts (M.D.) Straight Bullshit.
I refuse to let anyone tell me that this situation would play out the exact same way if I was visibly disabled. Straight Bullshit.
If you could see that I was visibly in severe pain, my absences would be excused (instead of “explained”). I would get the accommodations I require. In essence, they would know what to do with me. Instead they don’t and they choose not to figure it out. Rockhurst University seems to find it easier to suggest I attend another school. One that is “Less traditional.”—an online university. They even went as far as to offer me information about this new school. This means they would rather loose an excellent student who will turn into a great alumni, just because they refuse to accommodate an illness they have never seen. Straight bullshit.
This is discrimination in its purest, yet least recognizable form. I am discriminated against because the laws protecting those with disabilities were not written with me in mind. I am the forgotten. In LBGT terms, I am the quiet gay couple that keeps to themselves, but still cannot marry and will not cause an outpouring of outrage if I am discriminated against. They are just as gay as I am disabled. They chose to be gay the same day you chose to be straight. I chose to be disabled the same day you chose to be born healthy. Yet we are two groups who are ignored simply because we aren’t OUT and proud. We are not the apparent group, therefore we have trouble getting people to bestow upon us the same attention as they do the visible group.
Where does this leave me?
If I am to receive my share of my due rights, I must fit the mold of a disabled person. I must whip out my leopard cane, strap a back brace on, and turn into a Flamboyantly Disabled Individual. Regardless of whether or not I actually need these flamboyant accessories, It seems I’ve got to take notes from the Richard Simmons of the world and be Flamingly Disabled. Maybe then…..they’ll notice me.
I am the forgotten.