I’m problematic, but I’m working on it

By ELIF GABB Columnist

I remember the first time I tried to describe something as “gay” to imply it was bad or wrong.

As soon as I opened my mouth, my friend said, “No, not you. You can never say that.”

The pain on his face said it all. I could never say that again. So, I didn’t. I kept my promise. I have not used the word “gay” in that context since I was 11 years old.

At the time, I didn’t understand why I shouldn’t say it. It wasn’t until later that I figured it out: my friend has two mothers, and I had managed to imply that having two mothers was wrong.

My friend could take that from the boys. They were young and didn’t get it, but he couldn’t take that from me. I was meant to be an ally.

That was the first of many vocal, and nonvocal, missteps I’ve made over the years.

I came to this realization after the flurry of Facebook posts I saw regarding the worldwide Women’s March Jan. 21 and 22.

One thing stood out to me about the march: the signs.

Creative and witty, these signs expressed the views of thousands in incredibly imaginative ways.

“Keep Your Laws Out of My Vagina,” for example.

I thought they were clever. So I hit the like button on Facebook.

But I never thought about how they leave out, and perhaps offend, large groups of people.

What about trans people? What about women who don’t have the “correct” body parts, but still identify as such?

Had these people completely missed the point of the march — to try and advocate for all women’s views? Had I done the exact same thing?

Was I, in fact, a problematic person? The answer to that question is a resounding:

Yes, I am a problematic person.

I have said, and will likely still say, problematic things. I continually think problematic things. My behavior has been, and will likely still be in the future, problematic.

All of this is completely unintentional.

I believe in defending everybody’s rights and will continue to do so. Unfortunately, along the way, I might make mistakes.

But I promise: I’m working on it.

Elif Gabb is an English major and can be reached at [email protected].