Is the LGBTQI+ community too sensitive?

Would the kind of statements which lead to the MacG-drama be less common if the ignorant were allowed to ask questions and engage in discussion, instead of being dogpiled by those expressing their outrage?

Another day, another outrage, and today we have former YFM presenter, MacG’s podcast to thank for it.

When Macgyver and his mate Sol were discussing their misunderstandings regarding the LGBTQI+ community on Podcast and Chill with MacG, there were a couple of quips referring to a transgender woman as a woman with a dick amidst laughter, and true to form, social media’s response did not relent.

If you asked these two dudes and got a sincere answer, however, I doubt they’d think they were being offensive. They probably thought they were being edgy and funny and delivering content which is what content creators believe they have to do. And when they’re rewarded for it in terms of viewership, what’s to tell them they’re doing anything wrong?

100k subscribers for a South African podcast is pretty good, so it’s a safe bet that MacG thought he had a winning formula.

A while back, I was asked whether I think Mr Bean would be as popular if it was released today instead of the early ’90s and I thought they’d be lucky if they could even get it to air in 2021.

If the SABC had to re-flight episodes of Mind Your Language, there’d be all kinds of cries of racism and even some of the jokes in Friends haven’t aged well, but those were all shows which did remarkably well in South Africa and abroad in their day.

It just goes to show that a winning formula is not immune to the changing values of our society, and if you have any idea about anything related to content, you’d know that claiming confusion over LGBTQI+ issues today is akin to mocking the Pope’s hat in Italy in 1970. Yeah, you can do it but you won’t win much support for it.

Since the controversy, I’ve since been asking myself what is the difference between a trans woman and a woman with a dick? I’ve even tried to do some homework on it. Are they different concepts? Is it a disrespectful term? Is it the laughter that accompanied it? What caused the offense?

I really want to know. As a straight dude, I’ve very rarely been given the opportunity to even think about learning about the LGBTQI+ community and I’m certain, most straight men are in my position.

It’s all good and well to get outraged and slam the podcast hosts for being disrespectful, but most of us are still left asking, what it was that landed where it shouldn’t have?

But I can’t exactly ask that, can I? Because that would mean that I don’t understand power dynamics and that my expectation of the queer community to explain itself is unfounded. So I’m still left, as many clearly are, with these questions that nobody will answer, and this is the way it will remain.

It’s so absurd that today, we simply accept outrage, because we’re too afraid to demand to know why.

Perhaps in the past, the approach to asking why was an expectation of justification and that’s been off-putting. Perhaps we should consider focusing on finding the cause of the outrage less for justification and more for understanding. I’m so on board with that.

What I cannot accept is being asked to be an ally when I cannot comprehend what I’m allying myself to, and not being allowed to ask.

If MacG had any idea about what would make good content, he’d dedicate his next episode to hosting a panel on what caused the upset and trying to get an understanding out there. One that people may still agree or disagree with, but air the voices of frustration so that we who do not understand, finally have some place to go to hear this side of things we’re rarely exposed to.

Some people are even going as far as calling it hate speech. I can’t see why but I would need some omnipotent forces to be by my side were I to venture into the depths of twitter and say, “hate speech actually has a particular definition which these statements don’t meet in my opinion”.

I get it gay friends. You’ve been through a lot. You don’t want to go through even more by dealing with this kind of thing. I totally get that.

I just don’t see how it will ever change if we can’t find a way of making why this upsets you understandable.

So, to answer my initial question, is the LGBTQI+ community too sensitive? I genuinely don’t think so. I just wish I could get a better understanding of why.

Richard Anthony Chemaly. Entertainment attorney, radio broadcaster and lecturer of communication ethics.

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