I am sorry. I do not want to hurt you.
That seems an odd opening statement to make, you think? Stick with me and I’ll explain, it’s all very simple.
See, way back in my younger days before I really started listening to the LGBTQIA+ community (and my own heart), I would make light of real and serious issues within the community, or anything perceived as being a part of that community.
I used to make the effeminate jokes, do the lisp, wave the limp wrist, and I did it because I was an ignorant asshole who thought he was so in the right, and justified by his faith to behave in such a way towards those who were different, that it never occurred to me that my attitude was the same type of attitude that lead to innocent people being harmed. It wasn’t a laughter of cruelty, it was a laugh of stupidity, of ignorance.
I did so because I was a devout fundamentalist Christian who had been taught that gay people chose their “lifestyle,” and that they willingly snubbed God in favor of perversion. Now, at the time, I didn’t know that Boy George was gay, not officially, but I did know he was effeminate, and he chose to wear makeup, so in my fundamentalist mindset, he was clearly gay enough to warrant being put in the same category.
So here you are, wondering why I posted the first sentence in this entry. Well, that, or you already figured it out. Regardless, it’s because of the song “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?”, a song he sang with Culture Club back in the 1980s.
I say this, because when he would sing the noted lyric, either myself, or my friends with me, would laugh and say “yes!” because you know, he’s weird and wears makeup, he’s gay, hahaha, you know? Isn’t it funny? Isn’t it a laugh?
The answer then was yes, but the answer now is obviously no.
I have learned a great deal in the intervening 20 years. I have learned the struggle the LGBTQIA+ community has been a part of, primarily because I have joined in it. I have learned of the injustices transgender people have faced long before I was born, and I’ve seen those same laughing faces as I work to defend the lives of my friends. Some are cruel, of course, but most are just ignorant.
To them it’s a silly little thing, a group of people so confused they don’t know what gender they are. Or maybe they’re faking it. Perhaps they’re just perverts trying to look at children in the bathrooms, because that’s what it always comes down to with that mindset.
So I’m sorry, Boy George, for ever joking about such things. I’m sorry to all of my fellow members of the LGBTQIA+ community for being stupid and insensitive enough to mock the real life issues you were facing. That I was a teenager is no excuse. That I was a fundamentalist Christian is no excuse. That it was the 1990s was no excuse. Neither age, religious affiliation, or year is any excuse when mocking and belittling the lives of others.
I’m sorry, Boy George, for saying “yes” when you sang “do you really want to hurt me?”, and for making light of your work and your life, because in all honesty the answer is no, I do not want to hurt you. I don’t want you to ever be hurt by anyone for being who you are, and for wanting to express yourself in a way that is different from the mainstream. It heartens me that the mainstream is changing, and that what was once viewed as outside the norm has now become an everyday fact of life, at least here and in most civilized nations.
Now we have to fight to prevent people of the LGBTQIA+ community from being harmed in places like Russia, where gay men are now being imprisoned. That needs to stop. Those of you who are laughing need to stop, and you need to look at what is happening to innocent people. Now is the time to work together, to realize that every human being is deserving of basic respect and compassion, regardless of their gender, sex, orientation, color, or status. We can be better, and we can do better. Let’s do better.