How To Be Less of an Asshole

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar
  1. Acknowledge your privilege and calm down about it.

    Lots of times people treat privilege like they’ve done something wrong. Treat it like a birth defect – something you were born with. You can ignore it, and act all butt hurt when someone mentions it to you, but the act of having privilege isn’t the same as actively oppressing people. Most of the time, when people mention this to you, it’s to let you know that you do not have the same perspective on things that other folks might.

  2. Shut up and listen.

    If you’ve come out to support POC friends doing community organizing, and you’re a white person (you can substitute queer/trans/gender-non conforming, women, folks with disabilities, whatever applies, obvi) be there for them. If you are inserting your opinion or your experiences into a space that is not for you, then you’re not there for support. You’re there to prove that you’re not racist (or transphobic, or whatever).

  3. Think about how you’re saying what you say.

    Don’t use the n- word if you’re not a person of color, don’t use the word tranny if you’re not a trans woman, stop speaking in AAVE, stop calling things lame or retarded. Consider your use of the word crazy. Language is one of the ways we communicate with each other, but it has all of these nuances and histories that mean different things to people.

  4. Stop appropriating other people’s shit.

    Respect spaces that aren’t for you. Think about why you want that particular tattoo or piercing and what it might mean to someone else. Consider how things like AAVE are significant to the culture from which you might be "borrowing" them, and how that might be received by the folks who belong to that culture or community (who might actually get shit from mainstream society for the things you’re taking for granted). It doesn’t matter how good saris and bindis look on you, Gwen Stefani, you’re being an asshole (and making it trendy for a bunch of suburban mall kids who are probably unconcerned with Hindu culture to rock a bindi). Also, it’s time to cut your dreadlocks, Bitch.

  5. Don’t support businesses and organizations that don’t support your friends, your community, and your beliefs.

    No real explanation needed here, right?

  6. Do some grunt work.

    Lots of times your friends are involved in organizations that host events. Time that you spend licking envelopes, setting up tables, staffing an information desk is time that your friends can spend talking to people who are new to their organization or event, and that outreach is crucial. It may not be an event that caters to your demographic, but that doesn’t mean that your presence isn’t welcome or needed, especially if you’re willing to do the wind-beneath-my-wings stuff.

  7. Really. Listen.

    When someone says that you’re doing something that’s problematic, chances are, they’re not attacking you. The correct response is: "Oh, I’m sorry that (this thing I did) hurt you. I didn’t realize it, and I’m sorry. I won’t do it again." And then don’t.

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