The comic included in this post hit my Tumblr dashboard this weekend thanks to Mad Gastronomer. The comic was done by eighteen year old queer artist Elias Ericson and can also be found on his blog here. I think it’s a great. I also wish I had been half as wise and insightful at Elias’s age as he seems to be. (For more examples of his great insight, see these two other comics.)
I love this comic because I too have heard the things said in that first panel. And I get that the person saying it often has good intentions. Zie sees people being treated poorly because they are different from the “average” person — for whatever that means. Zie assumes that if we quit focusing on differences, then everyone will be treated better. It’s a neat idea. It’s a noble idea. It just doesn’t work.
You see, pretending we’re not different doesn’t actually make us all the same. It just makes our differences invisible. That’s just as problematic, because it also tends to make invisible the unique difficulties and problems that people face because of their differences. It erases the fact that society inherently privileges and disadvantaged different people based on those differences. Ignoring that fact doesn’t make it go away. In fact, it just makes it impossible to do anything to change it.
Plus, there’s the fact that if a person have to pretend that someone is “the same” as everyone else to treat them the same as everyone else, zie hasn’t accepted that person at all. Acceptance requires accepting a person exactly as they are and embracing their idiosyncrasies, their unique characteristics, and everything else about them. Acceptance of individuals means acceptance and acknowledgement of diversity. Accepting a re-tooled image of someone that allows one to pretend that zie is just like everyone else is hurtful to hir.
And I love that Elias managed to capture that in this comic.