This morning I had a treatment for my back and the guy giving the treatment and I were chatting about all sorts of things when he started telling me about his gay uncle who lives somewhere internationally that isn’t renowned for gay friendliness. He certainly didn’t mean it to be offensive but he said “He’s gay but if you saw him in the street, you’d never know it.” We’ve all heard this kind of comment many times and it’s meant to be a compliment but I find it mildly offensive.
I did a facebook post about it saying “Dear straight world, when you say that someone you know is gay “but if you saw them in the street, you’d never know” as if it’s a compliment, it’s not. It’s kinda offensive. If someone looks gay, it’s not a bad thing. It just might make you uncomfortable.”
A friend of my sister’s got a little defensive and sent me a message to try and keep in mind that it’s not ever meant offensively. I replied that the same could be said for people saying things that non-white people might find racist. Or a man saying something that might be seen as misogynist. The intention is important but it’s the person being offended that get’s to say whether they are offended or not. Not the person standing in the position of privilege. My facebook post wasn’t trying to attack anyone but just alert those straight people who might use a line like that, perhaps to rethink their words.