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Is Respecting Diversity A Bad Thing?

When someone wrongs the LGBTQ community, we create an image of them, light it on fire, and dance as the queer flames engulf them for they are of the old flesh. It happens all the time, from Salvation Army to TLC, Ted Cruz to The Queen. If one of the most powerful women in the world—one who shares the name with one of the gayest bands of all time—isn’t infallible then let this be a lesson to you: don’t fuck us. (Or, more accurately, don’t fuck with us or we’ll talk about you unfavorably behind your back and maybe to your face.)

A similar story of wronging came out in November when a California wedding photography business “refus[ed] service to a same-sex couple.” The hate mail they got for the refusal led to their eventual shutting down, a victory for the LGBT community. But is it? If you look deeper into the story, it’s a bit more complicated: the photographers didn’t think they were best matched for the gay couple.

“Photographing a gay wedding is not the best match for us,” they explained and even offered up a referral for a photographer who could do the job better. Yes, that initial shut down can be seen as homophobic but it also gets at an honest omission we—as minority groups—confuse for phobia: could their reply actually be seen as “Hey, you guys are gay and that’s cool but, honestly, we’ve never shot with a gay couple before and we might disservice you as a couple”?

This is a very valid excuse. If the photographers were worried that they would engender the couple, forcing them to conform to the norms of straight couples they normally shoot, that is a legitimate excuse: it is respecting their diversity. The refusal is not because the subjects are gay—it’s because the photographers have no fucking idea what I’m doing. I would respect that because I would never, ever want my wedding photography to look like a straight couple. Why? I am not straight and I do not conform to gender.

If you feel you would do a bad job at representing another person’s culture, you should step out—and you should not be faulted. It’s undoubtedly extremely difficult to express this as their email (Oy. What a medium.) proved. They could absolutely, a million percent be devil eared, demon eyed fag haters—and that’s cool because we took them down. If they were indeed respecting diversity, this should be an example to the community: engage in conversation and ask questions. Don’t sic them with queer flames without a chat as it provides an opportunity for us to teach and learn and engage in a dialogue.

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