At Pride this year I had all the straight people in attendance stand up to be recognized. I was genuinely trying to thank them, because of people like them people like me get to bridge the divide of “us and them”.

However, I also wanted to jab at our allies a little, as well as those in the room who were forced or obligated to be there (we will leave it there, but I’m in prison, I’m sure you can guess who I am referring to). They all stood, but all felt the sting of being “othered”.

One guy sat with me at lunch the next day and said he felt really uncomfortable having to stand as a “straight” person. I had heard a staff member comment “that’s the first time I’ve ever had to come out as a straight person”.

“Good, that was the point,” I told him “I’m glad it made you uncomfortable to wear a label you didn’t choose, to be forced to be seen as something different. Now you know exactly how we feel every single day when we have to disclose we are gay or trans or whatever. Good, mission accomplished.”

Why is it okay to label me and make me live in that and then tell me to be happy I’m recognized, yet when I force a label on those same people, they get offended? How does that work.

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Jeff aka Ruth Utnage

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