It is admittedly not much of a choice if one has to deny part of one’s self to gain privilege. However, privilege can still exist, even if “choice” is denial. For example: if I “choose” to publish under a different name, say, “Mike Jones,” my words as “Mike Jones” have more privilege than my words as a female-of-color. “Mike Jones” has the privilege of invisibility, of nondifference. “Mike Jones” does not have to send his words through tokenism. His words would not be parsed through cultural lenses or be automatically associated with visual difference. Nor would he be judged on his difference. To gain Mike Jones’ privilege, I have to deny everything that I am. But if I did, his privilege nonetheless operates for me.
See: the nature of privilege is determined by those who have it. And those who have it in our society are white heterosexual males. The only way privilege exists is through silencing the other to maintain inequality. In order to gain privilege, those outside of the privileged categories must deny parts of her/his self, have to inch closer to WHITE, HETEROSEXUAL, MALE. For gays and lesbians, inching closer to heterosexual norm is done through visibility and the visual—dressing a certain way, not holding hands when walking down the street. For nonwhites, to inch closer to the white norm, it is done by remaining silent on race issues. For women, it is to fulfill the gender role assigned to them. Privilege is measured against the norm, and to gain privilege, one moves towards the norm.
There will always be a chasm between what is felt and what is perceived as felt. I can never adequately explain the discomfort I feel in this world, the constant awareness of my notbelonging, my neverbelonging—partially because I do not have the language to express it. It’s a pervasive feeling, constant, and that I know I will deal with for the rest of my life.