COMMENTARY: If you've seen even one episode of the Real World: Back to New Orleans, you probably know that Ryan Leslie and I have been entrenched in a battle that can only be described as guerilla warfare: He rubbed my cigarettes on his hairy posterior; I retaliated by urinating on his $120 toothbrush -- not my finest moment, but when you're thrown into a house full of strangers, well, anything goes, I guess.
To some extent, I initially sympathized with Ryan; honestly, what straight man wants to constantly be called gay? Yes, he styles hair and claims to be a clothing designer. When taken at face value, this makes him gay -- at least in the realm of mainstream consciousness and what a large part of society thinks due to long-standing generalizations. Of course, the equal rights movement has made huge strides in the past few decades, but when it comes down to stereotyping and gender roles, those are still alive and well in many places.
But my sympathy was squashed because, despite efforts to connect with and understand the kid, Ryan's behavior was and remains not only disgusting, but pretty damn hurtful.
My former roommate's latest bout of homophobia came in the form of a tweet. And this time it wasn't directed at me, but at a Twitter user, Aurosan, the blogger behind Oh No They Didn't. It read: "Aurosan, I would love to see you in person and smash you gay f* face in."
What's depressingly infuriating is that Ryan believes this to be acceptable behavior, and justified it with yet another Tweet that read: "I'm not homophobic!! And even if I were I would be aloud to be! So chill out." Though it's hard to look past his atrocious spelling and grammatical handicap, the point remains that this kid is hateful and disrespectful.
For some reason I thought there was a general consensus that the
propagation of hate and violence was not allowed. Sure, after a fire
storm of responses, Ryan issued an apology to the gay community, but
what is worthy of noting is the fact that he never apologized to the
person to which his remarks were directed; instead, he continued to
insult him. Having also been at the end of Ryan's elementary antics,
this is familiar territory for me. And briefly, it actually brought back
the same feelings of insecurity and loneliness that plagued me
throughout my school years in Michigan.
The days of a passive LGBT
community are far behind us. What frightens Ryan the most is a gay man
who is open and proud of his sexuality. People often hate what they
don't understand. Ryan's inability to take responsibility for his
actions shows a lack of maturity. I think his past statements and
actions illustrate his general mentality. He is not only allowed to be a
hate-mongering sociopath, but he's a prime example of how not to think.
In a progressive society, hatred on any level should not be tolerated. I
find it ironic that Ryan has a tattoo of forgiveness across his chest. I hope
one day Ryan can accept his destructive behavior for what it truly is
and move past his uninformed views, but until then his behavior will
continue to haunt him and those around him.
So, in ending, I just
want to re-state something I'd said after our first tiff: I think the
bleach has went to his head.