The Compulsory Forgiveness of Respectability Politics 1/2

Respectability politics are actions taken to make a hated minority group seem less threatening or more mainstream to the powers that be, in the hope this leads to acceptance or tolerance. Compulsory forgiveness is a social expectation that abuse victims need to “take the high road”, ” be the bigger person”, and forgive those who harm them. Both maintain uneven power structures. 

Medieval chivalry only specified how the right women, the respectable ladies, should be treated. Rapacious behavior against non respectable women was not frowned upon at all. In US feminism it’s long taken the form of white middle class ladies presenting the concerns of nonwhite and poor women, making it more palatable for having passed through their lips. 

In LGBT life, this desire from some members to package and market ourselves as being very much like cis heterosexuals. “We just want to get married and adopt your unclaimed bastards! Look at us filing taxes jointly and not destroying society in the process! Corporate America? We love corporate America! Yay capitalism and suburbia.” 

This desire is understandable, but it always leads to a split: the respectable and the not. This can lead to the more hetero-beloved LGBT people joining their straight friends in hating on queens, dykes, leather daddies, bois, twinks, or anyone else who’s “too” flamboyant. Too gay. 

When this respectability is combined with compulsory forgiveness, the result looks something like this. 

The above image was created as a direct response to a queer bashing decal that showed a personified Confederate flag kicking a personified LGBT rainbow pride flag. The politics reflects how Southern white homophobes really feel. They want to harm us and see even Southern queers as outsiders intent on ending their way of life. They don’t want forgiveness because they don’t think they’re wrong. 

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