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A bus drove past me the other day. (Imagine if that was the end of the story). It had a poster on the side of it that read ‘Some people are gay. Get over it.’ I immediately crossed off ‘Find out if some people are gay’ from my to-do list, replacing it with ‘Get over the fact that some people are gay’.
Now, in reality, I don’t have even the slightest problem with gay, lesbian, or bisexual people. I’m not even one of those ‘Well, as long as they don’t do it in public’/‘Try to brainwash me into becoming one of those homosexuals you read about in the papers’ people. It’s great that some people are gay. It’s great that some people are straight.
Love is love, whomever you choose to direct it at. What does it say about us as a species that we actively try and stamp out love, because it’s the ‘wrong’ kind of love?
It is, however, rather a strange feeling to share an ideology with a bus. I’ve never met this bus before. We haven’t even exchanged pleasantries. Yet, fundamentally, we both agree that those people who have a problem with gay people really need to find something more productive to do with their time.
However, I’m not entirely certain what this poster was attempting to achieve.
The message is…um?
As a copywriter, I spend a lot of time thinking about the right way to convey the messages I need to get across. You have to have a pretty good understanding of how people will respond to ideas in order to write something that hits the spot.
Presumably ‘Some people are gay. Get over it’ was written by a copywriter. Considering I haven’t yet written anything to go on the side of a bus, they are a better copywriter than I am. But if you look at what the response to those words is, compared to what it is meant to be, you can see the point I am getting at.
Intention verses actuality
Let’s all pretend to be homophobes for the next bit. No, that’s not a group of people who are afraid of sounding the same. We’re all walking down the street together (maybe we’ve just been out to buy biscuits; it’s a fantasy, go nuts). We’re all angry at ‘the gays’. Look at them, loving each other. Feeling compassion. Knowing the warmth that comes from being connected to another human being on a level beyond description. Wearing sparkly shoes. Grrr, they’re everything that’s wrong with this world.
A bus drives past us, informing us first of all that some people are gay. ‘I bloody knew it’, we tell each other, and we adjust our coats (which were made by children in a developing country), step around the homeless person asking for money, and say ‘These people feeling compassion are just plain wrong’.
But there’s more. Next, the sign has the audacity to tell us we should get over this fact. Get over it? As though being gay is something that does no harm? As though a gay wedding doesn’t end with a plot to steal some children, and as though a gay marriage isn’t made official by the ceremonial sodomisation of a vicar?
Annnnd…back to reality
The point is, if you are the kind of person who hates or fears gay people, this rather aggressive poster isn’t going to do anything productive. It’s going to get you angry, or defensive. When, in the history of ever, has a scene like the one below happened?
BIGOT: ‘Racial abuse at those people of a different race!’
BYSTANDER: ‘You’re being very racist.’
BIGOT: ‘Good grief, I am, aren’t I? What appalling behaviour. I shall apologise to those people then go home and mend my ways’.
As far as I can see, the whole point of the sign was to annoy homophobes. Which isn’t going to help. You can’t win someone over if they are angry, and feel backed into a corner. You have to draw people out from their prejudices.
Perhaps we should all love for a cause
Imagine how differently things would have turned out in York if those wonderful people at the mosque had, instead of greeting EDL protestors with tea, biscuits, and football, gone out and beat the crap out of them all? It would have proved, in the eyes of the detractors, that everything the EDL claimed about Muslims was correct.
You can’t bully someone out of their beliefs, for two reasons. One, because it doesn’t work. Two, because you aren’t really enlightening them, or teaching them anything new, you are simply plastering a new set of doctrines over their old ones. They may go through the motions, but are they truly accepting, or is a deeper, more subconscious resentment growing?
Being aggressive with bigots might make us feel better, but it doesn’t do anything productive. Look at feminism. If you go around accusing people of sexism all the time and flinging around the term misogyny, you get labelled as a ‘man hater’ or an ‘angry woman’. It’s by taking the time to explain to people, compassionately and respectfully, why what they are doing or what they believe is wrong, that your messages will get through, rather than being dashed against the barriers they throw up as soon as they feel threatened.
Which is why, while I respect the sentiment behind the poster, and agree with the aim it is trying to achieve, I think it will probably do more harm than good.
If I had a bus to write on, I’d have gone for something like this:
Note: I’ve imposed upon myself a limit of 7 words and no images – the same as the bus-side banner.
Kiss of life from a gay paramedic?
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