Sunday, November 01, 2009

gay soap

i'm flirting with a new soap box... can't decide if i'm ready to actually "get on" it yet, i think i've been growing into the idea for years now.

it's the gay soap box.

here's the thing. i have these really amazing friends, and they are all really good people, and sometimes they say things that hurt my feelings, not because they are mean or bad, but because they are unaware. does that translate into an opportunity for awareness? maybe.

friends of lau, let it be known, talking about gay people as if they are a different species, or using the term "gay" in a negative way, hurts lau's feelings.

chalk it up to me being over-sensitive if you like. shoot, i feel over-sensitive every time someone says something is "gay"... like... "a guy with shaved legs is gay." (that might sound odd to you, but it comes up a lot in the cycling/swimming community...) really? gay? because my dad is gay, and he definitely doesn't shave his legs. in fact, i'm pretty sure that a much higher percentage of male swimmers or male cyclists shave their legs than do male homosexuals. so why is that "gay"??

and why do my male friends, when they want to assert their own manliness as being greater than another's manliness, do they say the other man is "gay"? are gay men not manly?

can you fix a car? fix things around the house? build things? work on a farm? be a good father? because my dad can. he may wear designer jeans and tight black t-shirts, but he's also one of the manliest men i know.

so last night i was hanging out with some friends, and they started making fun of another friend, who was at a gay party. lots of "gay" banter went back and forth, not all of it negative, but i felt uncomfortable. and again, i realize i could be over-sensitive about gay-talk, but i'm kinda the opposite of sensitive most of the time, so it's hard to know how to deal. i usually just remove myself from the situation, and that's what i did last night. i told my friends goodnight, and left the gathering, trying to wrap my head around my own emotions. i texted one of my friends to let him know why i left, fearing my exit was too abrupt, at which point he texted back, "oh gosh... VERY VERY sorry. we definitely didn't mean anything by it! more just ripping on "so-and-so"... we're a pretty open-minded group." now, i love this friend, and i know that he really did feel so bad about the situation, yet his response only frustrated me more. why is suggesting someone is gay the same as "ripping" on them? why does "gay" always imply something negative? furthermore, what my friend perceives as "open-minded," i perceive as my "new norm." it's not thinking outside the box, it's real life. it's not liberal, it just is.

and yet, it's not totally my "new norm" but one i'm still growing into. it's taking time. and by no means do i expect the world to "normalize" according to my reality. but i do think my friends love me. and i don't think they hurt my feelings on purpose. and i do think these situations create opportunities to increase awareness, respect, dignity and truth. so here i go, opening my big mouth, hoping you know it comes from my big heart, and i'm grateful for everyone and everything that has brought me to this moment BIG TIME.

3 comments:

FZ1_Boone said...

Very well written... I have to admit... I'm guilty of using gay interchangeably with lame... But, thanks to my lovely wife, I'm getting much better at not doing it. It's a bad habit, but I'm wondering where it starts.... you hear little children using gay as an insult to their little friends... I'd like to stop doing it all together, and every time I can catch myself, I do.

I did some electrical work for your dad... he's an awesome guy...

E1st said...

My mom, as someone who had a lot of dealing with developmentally impaired children, always held the same stance for the use of the word "retarded". Really, they're almost synonymous in colloquial use - "That's gay....that's retarded" both mean "that's lame". Both are insulting.

Carolyn said...

Hugs! Speak up, Lau! And I'm sure you'd do it in a way that doesn't make the people around you feel like jerks, but instead will help them look at things differently and make a subtle, yet permanent change!

How was the half-marathon??