I readily admit that I completely take for granted living within a gossamer soap bubble of acceptance floating in the midst of a hugely liberal city. In any given week I never once interact with a person who is any less than totally accepting of people of all races, beliefs, and sexual identities.
Unfortunately, the internet is a little less accepting, despite my attempts to maintain my bubble of open-mindedness.
For example: I regularly visit a number of X-Men and Marvel forums to answers questions and promote my Guide to Collecting X-Men. Last night, someone asked if a particular upcoming omnibus of X-Statix comics would be appropriate for his children.
Totally fair question, right?
Except, that’s not exactly the question he actually asked. What he asked was this:
I was trying to get some info on what it’s about and read there are some overtly homosexual characters and themes, is this true? I just want to make sure if the themes are adult in nature that my young children don’t pick up the book off my shelves expecting simple heroics and see two same sex individuals kissing.
My intention is not to offend anyone but to educate myself.
There are so many things wrong with that message board post that for about five minutes I simply could not compute. My brain locked up like a computer aimed at a website full of animated gifs of from Maury Povich.
First, and most obvious – why does it matter? To play off a recent image doing the rounds on social networks, how is gay kissing any different than straight kissing? Or, since we’re talking about a comic book, the potentially confusing shapeshifter kissing or alien kissing, and the occasional robot kissing?
Answer: It’s not. It’s just kissing. Either kissing is appropriate for your kids, or it isn’t. Either it’s appropriate in public or it isn’t. Either it’s appropriate on a plane or it’s not. “Gay” shouldn’t enter into the equation.
Second, there is the careful defusal at the end of the question. You see, it’s not offensive because they are using very polite terms about their bigotry. They simply want to educate themselves on how to promote bigotry.
That’s totally inoffensive, right? And bullying doesn’t hurt anyone unless they choose to feel hurt, right?
What if he had said “two Mexicans kissing” or “two people of different races kissing”? Or “a woman in a leadership position over men”? Or “a person with a disability doing simple heroics next to a able-bodied superhero”?
It’s all bigotry, no matter how nicely you phrase it.