Opinion: The response to this video proves that #BeKind is for some, not for all

Despite the #BeKind campaign overtaking Twitter, the comment section for a poet sharing their non-binary experience reveals further changes are needed.

Queer poet Gra Crosbie wearing a yellow jacket and glasses as they read their poem, in which the Twitter comment section lashed out to despite #BeKind campaign

A young non-binary person’s spoken word poem about getting a haircut has been bombarded on Twitter with toxic and hateful comments, a far cry from the #BeKind campaign which overtook social media only a few days ago.  

Queer writer and spoken word poet Gray Crosbie performs regularly at poetry and cabaret nights around Scotland, using their artform to explore themes such as LGBT+ issues, mental health, and relationships. They have released four spoken word pieces over on BBC The Social, however, it is their most recent poem which incited such vitriol and hurtful comments over on Twitter.

The poem Haircuts Between The Binary conveys the struggles a non-binary person faces within a world that is divided by gender binaries through the lens of picking the right place for a haircut. The poet says, “There’s day to day/ people quietly battle/ like finding a way to wear your own skin/ while navigating a world/ in which we don’t always fit in.” Their video has over 2,300 retweets and 9,500 likes on Twitter.

In GCN’s Pride Issue, Irish queer people spoke about their experience with hairdressers and the anxieties surrounding these establishments. Cameron said, “To have a place where you can explore your own identity and your own expression in a safe way so that nobody is going to give you any judgement for it – it can be hugely significant. It can be the difference between a person being happy or not.” 

Arriving on the heels of an online campaign calling for kindness and understanding following the death of Caroline Flack, the comment section beneath The Social’s Twitter post highlights the short-lived memory of social media users. #Bekind was quickly discarded as people repeatedly wrote “stop making up problems”, showing a refusal to listen when a person opens up about their lived experience. At the root of this, people are drawing a line in the sand where kindness is no longer a universal concept but can be given and taken away at a moment’s notice. 

In memory of Flack, more than 350,000 people signed a petition for the creation of ‘Caroline’s Law’, which would criminalise online bullying. The petition calls for “stricter laws around safeguarding…people in the public eye” and was launched by actress Stephanie Davis. However, there is a lack of similar consideration towards the video. 

There are differing variations of the same sentiment among the top comments, where people respond with “You need a psychiatrist, not a barber” and “When life is too easy so you need to fabricate some form of struggle.” In the short span of 24 hours, the comment section was flooded with comments attempting to silence a person speaking about their own experience.

Responding to the outpour of online hate speech, The Social tweeted, “It’s been a tough 24 hours here, fighting hate from all around the world, all because we shared the lived experience of a young person in Scotland. We take threats and bullying very seriously here at The Social and we have been reporting those tweet. #BeKind.”

The comment section raises questions around whether people are just performing compassion rather than being compassionate when they use online social media platforms. If kindness is only ever reactionary to a tragedy, does it then become less genuine and lose meaning.

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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