Sometimes people learn and grow because they actually learn and grow.
I couldn't pick Iggy Azalea out of a lineup. Don't know who she is, never heard her music, not following her on social media. But here's something I learned about Azalea after two minutes on Tumblr: The Australian rapper is insanely, rabidly, outrageously homophobic. The proof? These tweets:

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"When guys whisper in each others ears I always think its kinda homo."
"Wondered why my butt felt like it was about 2 grow legs, flip me off & walk away. then i remembered i played soccer yesterday w 4 dyke bitches"
"The most important man in my life is my manager @1GoodDude (no homo)"

Azalea was scheduled to perform at Pittsburgh Pride in the Street on June 13. But she canceled the appearance after her booking provoked a firestorm of controversy. Local queer groups have other issues with Pride organizers in Pittsburgh—the inclusion of a notoriously homophobic pop-rap star appears to have been the last straw—and I'm not going to delve into Pittsburgh's queer politics, nor am I the best person to address the charges of racism and cultural appropriation that have also dogged Azalea.

But I would like to address the homophobia charge. Azalea posted the offending tweets in 2010 and 2011, when she was 20 and 21 years old, and she has subsequently deleted and apologized for them. She apologized for them again when she pulled out of Pittsburgh's Pride celebration:

"I am a firm believer in equality," Azalea wrote in a message posted to Twitter. "Unfortunately in the past as a young person, I used words I should not have... I meant no harm and deeply regret ever uttering those words. As an adult I would never use them because I understand they play a detrimental role in the fight for issues that I do truly believe in. I am sorry to anyone I have offended or disappointed."

Azalea has apologized—more than once—and her Twitter account has been "no homo" and "dyke bitches"–free for four years.

It's time to accept her apology.

It's time to accept Nash Grier's apology, too.

Grier is a 17-year-old high-school student with nine million followers on Vine, the video-sharing app. Back in 2013, when he was barely 15 years old and already a Vine "star," Grier posted a clip from a commercial for a home HIV-testing kit. "Testing for HIV. It's not a gay thing," the actors in the commercial said. Quick cut to Grier: "Yes it is! FAG!"

Grier apologized on Twitter after the video, which he had deleted, resurfaced.

"I apologize for anything negative I've said towards gays," Grier said in a statement posted to Twitter, the public stockade of social media. "I was young, ignorant, stupid, and in a bad place. I've moved on and learned from my mistakes and I am so truly sorry to anyone I have offended."

Grier's stupid and misinformed "FAG!" video, like Azalea's mildly homophobic tweets, is passed around daily on social media by people who claim that Grier's remarks could potentially traumatize vulnerable queer people—so, hey, let's make sure everyone sees them. Because what good are deleted-but-potentially-traumatizing Vine videos and tweets if vulnerable people don't see them and aren't traumatized by them?

Lesbian YouTuber Arielle Scarcella posted a video called "Nash Grier Is Homophobic & The Unforgiving Gay Community" to her YouTube channel.

"Nash has apologized twice on Twitter and once on Snapchat, I believe, kissing a gay fan to show that he's learned from the experience," Scarcella says. She decries the inability of so many in the LGBT community to accept an apology and expresses her annoyance with those who insist that Grier's apology couldn't possibly be sincere. (How could they know that?) Scarcella then brings up some stupid shit she did when she was Grier's age—which included making homophobic remarks.

"I want you guys to imagine just for a second if one of your biggest mistakes was recorded and could be replayed at any time, forever, for anyone to see," Scarcella implores her viewers. "We love ripping people apart for making mistakes. In most cases a lot of the same mistakes all of us have made at one point or another in our lives."

You know who else has made mistakes?

You.

Lots of queer people go through a stage where they're more homophobic than their peers. It's a shitty strategy: No one will suspect that you're gay—or lesbian or bi or trans—if you hate gay or lesbian or bi or trans people harder than everybody around you. Likewise, lots of out queers have said stupid shit—out of ignorance—about other kinds of queer people. (Myself included.) Have you apologized? Should your apology be accepted?

Your parents.

I have a friend whose mother looked at him when he came out and said, "I should've had that abortion." Not "an abortion," but "that abortion," the one she seriously contemplated getting. The moment her son came out—when he was vulnerable and could easily be traumatized—his own mother told him she wished he didn't exist and she regretted missing her chance to prevent his existence. His mother long ago apologized to him for the awful thing she said to him when he came out. Should her apology be accepted?

Your president.

In 2007, Obama said he opposed gay marriage because "God was in the mix" when a man married a woman (that must have come as a comfort to Laci Peterson's parents), a statement with deeply offensive implications. (Who, exactly, is in the mix when a man marries a man?) That was then, of course, and this is now. But should Obama's apology—if he ever gets around to making one for that remark—be accepted?

Like I said, I don't know who Iggy Azalea is and I don't really care. But a movement that's essentially asking people to evolve—to learn about sexual orientation and gender identity and to grow into full acceptance—isn't doing itself any favors when it refuses to allow for learning or growth or evolution. To scream, "Look at what you tweeted in 2010! FUCK YOU!" in the face of someone who has long since apologized for what she tweeted in 2010 and who has stopped tweeting shit like that sends a message to others who are still tweeting shit like that: Don't bother apologizing, don't bother changing, don't try to do better. Once the homophobic label is affixed—or the transphobic label or the biphobic label—you might as well double down on hate, since you're never going to be free of the hater label.

What if Azalea's apology is insincere? What if Grier's is?

Sometimes people learn and grow because they actually learn and grow. Sometimes people pretend to learn and grow because they realize they're less marketable as musical acts or political candidates or Vine stars if they hate on us openly. But it's impossible to know whose evolution is sincere and whose growth is self-serving. Is Azalea sincere, or does she just want you to come to her concerts? Is Grier being sincere, or does he just want you to watch his videos? Are your parents sincere, or do they just want you to come home for Christmas? Impossible to know. But it's in the best interest of the movement—and your own best interest—to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

And you know what? There is something a bit homo about boys whispering in each other's ears. That's what I like about it. recommended

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