A Poet's Kiss

Albuquerque poet Mary Oishi puts poems, pictures, and thoughts here for her family and friends, and for lovers of poetry everywhere.

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States

Thursday, February 26, 2009

my 50,000th paper cut

This post came on a professional list serve I subscribe to. I have blocked the name of the list and the writer of the post to protect privacy. My reply follows.

-----Original Message-----
From: xxx

Sent: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 4:27 PM
To: xxx

Subject: Re: "Aging GLBT Folks" on "Prime Time Radio" Incl. Daniel Schorr, 91 years old

Just to be clear, the aging GLBT story is technically unrelated to the interview w/Daniel Schorr (who has been married to his wife since 1967).

My reply:
Margaret Cho says that experiencing racism is like dying from thousands of paper cuts. Experiencing homophobia is as well. I'm sure it was not intended to be hurtful, but rushing to "set the record straight" signals to everyone who reads this list, gay and straight, that somehow it would be shameful for Daniel Shorr to be thought of as gay--even for a few minutes!

I volunteer with gay teenagers every Friday night, and I can tell you that this kind of implied shame is harmful, in fact, extremely violent in its consequences. In the past 2 months I have had to talk two intelligent, beautiful, and talented young men out of suicide. They know that nobody will someday rush to explain that they have been with their male partners (since 1967) to spare them the shame of being thought of as straight. They're already so tired of the daily blood trickles of "paper cuts" at this young age, they would rather get it over with fast.

None of us wants to intentionally do harm. But to avoid doing harm unwittingly takes some examination of attitudes that we may not even be aware of, attitudes that when expressed can be far more hurtful to people than we would ever want to be. Just some food for thought...

Mary Oishi


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