You don’t need to apologize…
You don’t need to apologize to me for your transphobic grandparents, who whispered rumors and spoke ill of the guy in the neighborhood who liked women’s panties. When Christine Jorgensen’s transformation hit news stands in the 1950s, they ensured everyone knew she was a freak with snide, degrading comments.
Neither do you need to apologize for the racist, elderly uncle who couldn’t get a sentence out without attributing something to race or ethnicity. At your wedding he managed to hit ‘spic’, ‘wop’, ‘frog’, and ‘kraut’, and that was just the ones I heard. But his jack-ass behavior is not your fault.
Nor do you need to apologize for your mom’s nervousness that time I mentioned my other lovers. I don’t know if your mom’s homophobic or polyphobic, or both, or just being aghast to live up to social expectations. But she’ll get over it, or she won’t until the day she dies. And either way, one day that bit of fear or animosity will be gone from the world.
I get the feeling I’m expected to feel slighted, annoyed or angry that I’ve been discriminated against because people felt a particular way about me. But if I did, then would it be just for me to dismiss them as transphobic, racist, homophobic fools? Because really, by just applying a label I dismiss them and the importance of their thoughts just as they dismiss me and the value of mine.
So you needn’t apologize, I’ve already found a way to dismiss their opinions. And as time passes, they and others with similar negative thoughts will be dying out, and their hatred along with them. Hopefully, I’ve still got a good run ahead of me.
Perhaps as I age, changing reference points will let the youth of the future dismiss me as an annoying old hatred-filled person. Should they apologize to each other for the hatred of me, or their great-great grandparents or other ancestors? I don’t see much value to it.
If you fucked up, or you are getting over your own prejudices, then yes, I can see reason to apologize. And if you want to say the words on behalf of the past, it’s fine, I understand you’re trying to alleviate guilt for something you didn’t do and isn’t your fault but you feel bad about.
But otherwise, we’re in the here-and-now. There still is inequality in the world, but we can’t focus on the present and worry about the past too. And while I do think activists turn personal dislikes into minority issues (and it muddies the water for real issues when they do), there are real issues that need to be solved. Instead of paying lip service to the slights of the past, we should put real action to fixing the disparities and unfairnesses of today.