Not all relationship work is worth doing.

People become more who they are over time. It's not always bad; it is almost always a little bit weird, but that's because "normal" is a theoretical construct. A little awkwardness is charming when it's one of your friends. Other times, it's a disaster.

I've recently had occasion to work with another artist on something. I'd known them casually before, in a related context. They were always cranky, but the main crank was centered around a day job they loathed. I know how much having to get up every damn day and do something that's destroying your soul can fuck up the rest of your life, so okay.

This assumption was... incorrect. The details are too identifiable to share, and the point here is my own thought process and not other people's dysfunction, but the more time I spent with them, the farther afield the complaints started to range. The list of topics it was unwise to bring up in conversation grew every time I saw them. I realized one day that I had never heard them say anything happy or positive about any project they were involved in, up to and including one that was their own solo endeavor.

Then the comments began. This particular person is a member of the LGBT+ community, and more than a little concerned with matters of sex, sexuality, and gender. They feel persecuted for their identity. Anyone they perceive as having more social power than they do is the target of a significant amount of resentment.

I found it disquieting when they casually mentioned they don't like men and wouldn't bother being friends with one. I try to filter my crabbier remarks through what I like to call "The 'Black People' Rule". Particularly for Americans, the mistreatment of black people by white people is one of the most quintessential pictures of prejudice in society. We've had countless skirmishes over it in this country, including two very large ones about a century apart. One was an all-out civil war, and the other was an often-violent series of civil uprisings. They are both in the official history books, in chapters of their own, in a form accurate enough to convey the message that racism is bad, and a racist is a bad thing to be. If ever I am tempted to make a categorical statement about a subset of humanity, I ask myself, if I tweeted that about 'black people', would the internet call for my head on a pike staff? If yes, maybe don't say that thing. Better to find a more accurate, and potentially way more insulting, grievance against the specific human who is pissing me off.

The art project they were complaining about was informative, albeit probably not the way they intended. I suspect they meant it to be an expression of the righteous rage of an oppressed minority. The picture I got was... the most charitable way I can phrase it is that they are deeply unhappy with their own existence, and upset that the world has not fixed this for them with external validation. My comment above about them resenting people with greater social capital is not a guess; it was in the text that accompanied the exhibit. They are wholly invested in their identity not only as a gender/sexual minority, but as someone who is constantly wronged, who is justified in raging at anyone whose life looks easier to them.

It was unsettlingly like reading a MGTOW blog. If a cis het man wrote half of what was in that project, we would be side-eyeing the shit out of him, in case he shot up a strip mall. I don't see why it should be acceptable from anyone else, either.

I asked if they had any artist commentary they wanted to share. I was told, very bluntly, no.

There are lots of things I could learn from this. Dealing with people who want to make their bad mood your fault is an unfortunately useful skill in life. On the other hand, this is Not My Problem. It's about eight good commissioned officer ranks above my pay grade. As much sympathy as I have for people who are profoundly unhappy, I am under no obligation to deal with their feelings. I could put in the work to learn how to cope gracefully with this, but all that would do is make it easier for me to deal with situations I should be trying to get myself out of.

Work is not always worthwhile work. I think I'll pass on this one.

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