I was watching several Ted Talks on the commodification of gay people, the gay best friend phenomenon. This is where gay people are treated like ‘a must have accessory’. It got me thinking. What can possibly be correlated to this phenomenon?
Diversity. I am not here to tell you diversity is bad and should be abolished, but unintended problems could arise when we put diversity as number one- as we are now. We are promoting and encouraging diversity left and right, in the workplace, at school, or at the dinner table. Workplaces and schools have mission statements that promote diversity.
At its core, diversity promotes an understanding of different cultures and people. Again, all good. However, when we value diversity above all else, especially humanity, we lose the humanness inside us. We reduce people different than us to ‘a must have accessory’ so we can prove that we value diversity and to show that we are culturally relative. Let’s take the gay best friend phenomenon.
Being gay in society is different (not bad– just different) than what the norm is, which is being straight. Some people acquire gay friends and flaunt them to everyone to show or prove that they value diversity. Gay people have become less than human, just a mere accessory, like a wallet or a purse. We box them into categories; they are no longer a human, but a gay person. Likewise, being of a different race is the same thing. Being Chinese is different than being caucasian. Some people say, they have ‘a Chinese friend’. We don’t hear people say that they have a white friend! You get the idea. In my opinion overly promoting diversity can divide us more that unite us. People different than us are considered ‘other’ and are commodified.
I understand there are people who make friends for the said friend’s quality and personality, not because of their differences. I applaud them for that. I have the most wonderful friends who see me for me, not because I am Chinese or because I am LGBT. The point is, we are all part of the human race sharing similar experiences. Maybe we should promote humanness and humanity, rather than diversity? Maybe we should see people for similarities, rather than looking for differences?