And if I’m gay, what’s your point?

Catching up with Jay, I was happy to find this little history lesson on tap:

As a life-long ‘East Coast Cat” myself, I’m glad Jay chose to step up and share a little knowledge with Larry Johnson about Stonewall and ‘weakness’ … and in the process help us all remember that prejudice starts with ignorance.¹

I’m wondering when calling someone a ‘fag’ is going to stop being a go-to insult.²  It’s an easy slur, right?   “You fight like a girl,” makes such a smooth slide to, “You’re a fag.”  Never mind the fact that there are plenty of girls who could kick anyone’s ass, making that first dig meaningless.  The second is more on my radar right now because I’ve begun to hear it a lot more, and I’m wondering what that’s about.  Let me just get wild here and say that being gay has nothing to do with anything other than sexual orientation.  Lest there be any doubt, let me clarify: being gay has nothing whatsoever to do with physical strength or athletic ability.  Being gay has nothing whatsoever to do with the right to have an independent thought.  Being gay has nothing to do with who’s at fault for bumping into whom on a crowded street.  And yet I hear people called ‘gay’ in all these situations.   You let that quarterback get past you?  You’re a fag.  You chose not to fight that man who got all up in your face?  You’re a fag.  You have a different opinion?  You’re a fag.  You accidentally bump someone as you’re walking down the street?  You’re a fag.

What is that?  What does it even mean when people say it?  And why am I suddenly hearing it so often?  I’m hearing it almost as much as I did during my politically-incorrect and insensitive high school years, a time during which we would have stared at you with blank incomprehension if you had tried to talk to us about homophobia.  (And then we would have snickered, Beavis and Butthead style, because you said ‘homo.’  Ah, the glorious days of my small-town youth!) 

But we’re not living decades ago in a freakish upstate backwater.  We’re here, in 2009.  We know more, we’ve seen more.  How can we be getting more stupid rather than less?  What are we so afraid of?  Where does it stop?  How? 

__________

¹  I was going to say “prejudice starts with stupidity” because that’s much closer to how I feel and also because I like the little alliterative run it makes, but I thought “ignorance,” while less accurate and more anemic, would make me sound vaguely more tolerant.  And Mr. Johnson?  Do some homework: Dave Kopay much?  Esuara Tuaolo?  Get over it, already.

²  I have two fronts to fight on here with the go-to insults.  Sexual orientation and body size are the two remaining ‘safe’ insults … and the former is only safe in a handful of circles.  I should probably focus my attention on the fat-phobes, but I feel obligated to spread my vitriol around.

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14 thoughts on “And if I’m gay, what’s your point?

  1. this guy ROCKS! I missed the whole “no-homo” moment (has it passed yet?) but it was equally annoying once I heard about it…we’re facing a crisis of masculinity in this country, and especially in the black community, and I only wish more folks were as vigilant as you and Jay…

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  2. Wow, Jay is so great. If my reader weren’t already overflowing, I’d probably check out what he has to say more often. That was a great piece of history I got to learn there.

    Your commentary is fantastic, too. Thanks for this, Stacie.

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  3. Late, but here. I’d love to share this with 21st teens who are equally immature as my peers were in high school (I didn’t snicker, didn’t find the insults funny even then).

    I can’t understand how decades later we are still so assbackwards.

    Glad you shared this. Thanks, G.

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  4. Thanks, Susan. Sometimes I can’t be sure I’m exactly making the point I wanted to make, and that’s where I was with this post. I’m glad it resonated with you, glad it made sense!

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  9. so beautifully written.
    I have heard racism such as I have not heard since my small town girlhood of the 1980s. The KKK marched down our main street in 1987. (And this was not the south.) I left as soon as I graduated.
    I think the new-old homophobia and the racism stem from our president and from the slow and overdue movement toward marriage equality.
    Oddly, I have not heard so much antisemitism and sexism as I did then.
    Just my perspective…

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    1. Oh, I’m not nearly as surprised as you’d think. Until they built a mall on the old fair grouds, there used to be Klan rallies at the Danbury, CT fair grounds … ako as short a time ago as the 1980’s.

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