Tobi Hill Meyer posted about a swastika that was spray-painted into the carpet at the University of Oregon's LGBTQA center a month ago, and this weekend anti-gay graffiti was found at the LGBT Resource Center at the University of California Davis campus.
The graffiti at the Davis LGBT Center drew comment from students who said such incidents are rare on campus.
"You don't normally hear about hate crimes here at Davis," said Giselle Camarillo. "That's just really surprising."
It may not be that common, but it does seem to be on the rise with the incidents at the University of Oregon and the other at the University of Notre Dame. Obviously, they're not connected in any direct sense, other than to show that homophobia is still alive and well among the Millennial generation. You know the Millennials, the youth who got Obama into office with nothing more than the power of their belief in liberal utopia, their love of diversity, and Facebook.
Anyway, this part of the story does give me hope:
A letter from the center's staff on the door vowed to leave the graffiti up as a reminder that intolerance still exists.
Good for them. It shouldn't be immediately taken down. People need to see it.
There's usually a strong urge to censor after events like these, and I use the term "censor" not to mean people being denied the right to free expression, but more to refer to the way people like to clean up the environment around them so that they can live in a fantasy land where everything's alright.
No one likes that more than the lukewarm members of the dominant class of any axis of identity. They may be sympathetic to the discrimination others face, but they'd much rather pretend it didn't exist, that America's post-racial, that anti-gay bias is over, that gender equality's already been achieved.
It's easier for everyone to believe that, and too often the rest of us go along with them because:
- we believe that people might actually believe the messages they see because they're too stupid to interpret it correctly, and
- we secretly believe they're right.
One of the obstacles we face when trying to fight hate and prejudice is how easily people are let off the hook for their beliefs. Sure, they might not support same-sex marriage, but that's just because they have traditional values, not because they're homophobic. Someone might be opposed to even basic affirmative action programs like a large employer participating in a job fair in a minority neighborhood, but that's just because she's against reverse racism. Somebody might protest in front of Planned Parenthood and shout at women going in, but that's just because he truly believes that a fetus is a human life, not that he has a problem with women's independence. And a commentator might belief that we should split the LGBT, but it's all about political strategy and has nothing to do with transphobia.
As Ta-Nehisi Coates put it:
This is a country--like many countries--which is deeply riven by ethnic bias, and gender discrimination. And yet we don't seem to know any of the agents of that discrimination.
These slippages in the system are blessings on some level. Why can't we still get the ENDA through Congress? It's partly because of people like those at UC Davis who think that "LGBT" is a fancy term for "fags," and some of those people, unlike those students at UC-Davis, are politically powerful.
There is still plenty of discrimination against LGBT people, and it happens because people actually believe that we're defective. It isn't too controversial of a statement to make on an LGBT blog, but as I read through everything Google News dredges up every day under the terms "gay" and "transgender" and "bisexual," it's surprising how many straight people are willing to let other straight people completely off the hook for their beliefs and pretend that there's no connection between favoring discriminatory legislation and holding prejudiced beliefs.
Cleaning it up right away would have been the easy solution that would have focused fewer people's attention on the problem at UC-Davis. But we can't pretend that everything's alright and come together for some kumbaya when there isn't justice, and the our love of cleaning up reality has never been known to bring justice.