Monday Motivation // Address the Hate, Starting With Yourself

Hello and happy Monday to you all! I know, I know, no one likes Mondays. No one likes to leave the freedom and comfort of the weekend behind to be thrust unprepared into the monotony and boredom of the work week. But life is short and to spend our whole lives hating one entire day of the week seems like a big waste of what little time we have on this Earth. Let’s try to think about Monday’s a little differently, shall we?

I say Mondays are a time for new beginnings. I say Mondays are full of new possibilities and an exciting chance to do it all over again, and this time, get it right.

This Monday is a sad one. I am still thinking about the Orlando shooting that took place over the weekend. Besides being saddened by the news of 50 lives lost, of this being the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, by some of the messages of hatred I saw, and by how quickly people were able to blame an entire religion and move on, I am also frustrated. I hate that this keeps happening.

I don’t understand how we can keep doing the same thing — essentially nothing — and expect that anything will change. I feel like I am on the outside of a nationwide case of clear insanity. So many people are screaming that something must be done to change this country’s culture around guns, and more are screaming that they will never change.

Our love of weapons won’t be overcome overnight. So all we can do for now is start by addressing the hate.

I saw a lot of people jumping to conclusions on social media yesterday, blaming the entire Muslim religion for this attack. I don’t pretend to know what exactly was on this man’s mind, and I don’t even think that religion had nothing to do with what happened. What I do know is that this feels rooted more in homophobia than in anything else.

Homophobia spans across many religions, races, classes, and cultures. (Homophobia itself is rooted in misogyny, the hatred of what is feminine, but that’s a topic for another day.) I saw a few people choosing to use derogatory terms, blaming the victims for their deaths, and even arguing that this was “God’s will.” I know that most people do not feel this way, but the extremists are protected by the moderates who hold the same views but to a lesser degree. That is the problem I would like us to address this week.

This week let’s look at all the ways we perpetuate these ideas and inflict microaggressions on people who are different or are a part of another marginalized group—particularly gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and other people who’s gender identities and sexualities fall outside of the norm.

Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.

Microaggressions: More than Just Race, Psychology Today

You may think you do not hold any unenlightened ideas about any particular group of people. You may think that you are not racist, sexist, or homophobic. You may think that because you are a part of a marginalized group yourself that you could not possibly be part of the problem. I would tell you that most of you are wrong. Most of you have been judgmental, have thought a group of people didn’t deserve something or thought that their suffering was not real.

Have you ever told someone they should dress differently to fit in with gender norms? Maybe you said it in what you thought was a nice way, “You would look so good in a dress.” I hear this all the time. People think in some way they are complimenting me. All I hear is that I don’t look good the way I do dress. I hear that I am less of a woman because I wear baggier jeans and tennis shoes. It hurts.

Have you ever said or thought:

  • I love the person; I hate the sin
  • You’re too pretty to be a lesbian.
  • Gay people are always hitting on me!
  • This is my gay friend!
  • That’s so gay.
  • Bisexual people are just greedy
  • I’m cool with gay people as long as they aren’t, like, really gay.
  • I’m cool with gay people as long as they stay away from me, don’t look at me, don’t breathe my air.

These are just a few examples and on the surface, these don’t sound so bad, if you aren’t gay, transgender, or queer. If you are all you hear are stereotypes, homophobic stereotypes, being reinforced. You hear how you are different and other, and all you feel is singled out and demeaned.

It’s not about being too sensitive; it’s not about political correctness. It’s about not perpetuating ideas that are harmful, ideas that can be deadly.

Statements like these contribute to the collective cultural view that people belonging to the LGBTQ community are not like everyone else. People who hate gay people, who think they should be killed or jailed, they think the same thing. No one wants to think they the have anything in common with the kind of people that kill out of hatred, but you might.

This week examine all the ways you view people who are different from you. Examine the ways you may be hurting someone around you by saying these kinds of things. Take a second to educate yourself. Find blogs and social media circles where people talk about the ways they are hurt. Listen and ask questions, respectfully. Think about the ways you are hurt every day by the things people think and say. Think about the kind of person you want to be. Think about the kind of world you want to live in.

Think about the victims of the Orlando shooting and all the victims all over the world and throughout history who have been killed for being different. Remember them and try to do better. Try to make this world a place where differences are celebrated, not pointed out to be made fun of or critiqued. Try to practice acceptance, empathy, and understanding.

Above all, just try to spread some love today.


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Featured image by Ludovic Bertron from New York City, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


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