The F Word

Hi. How have you been? What’s up? Seen Avatar, yet? Pretty, wasn’t it? Though it left me feeling headachey and kind of worried that we’re going to be subjected to multi-million-dollar animated movies starring people who look like puppets, which isn’t too far from what we have now, only with less emotion.

Right, then. There’s that out of the way. Small talk was never my forte and I don’t really do a good job of moving it along, and anyway the reason I’m publishing something for the first time in over a year is hardly because I have very strong feelings about the crap that Hollywood produces because I’ll always have Turner Classic Movies to turn to so I can cleanse my palette and watch something completely drained of color and filled with actual actors actually acting.

No, what I’ve come here today to discuss is the state of the U.S. in terms of the changing attitudes concerning “the homosexual lifestyle” and my disgust, annoyance, frustration and anger about it all. Because “things are getting better,” for sure, but the environment of tolerance and the open dialogs about the rights of individuals to be who they are and enjoy the same rights under the law as others do has also opened up this fresh can of ugly worms – and the fall-out resulting from the can opening and my own reactions and digestion of the resulting tide of scorn and derision and open prejudice that it has taken me until now to finally understand.

I have only ever been called a faggot to my face exactly once. Actually, it was ‘fag.’ And it wasn’t exactly to my face, it was more of a general shouting out from a passing vehicle whose occupant or occupants I never even saw, so I’m not sure it counts. And at the time, I discounted it as the work of amateurs because, really, there’s are so many more hurtful things to call me than that, since I am that. Calling me “tasteless” or “talentless” or “hackneyed” for example would honestly hurt my feelings. Calling me a faggot only defines the name-caller rather than the -callee. And, again, it just doesn’t take much imagination, so it’s just such a waste of a good epithet.

Using the word fag, however, has a very distinct goal for its user. They are likely aware that it has the worst connotation to those of us of a certain age, and is colored with all sorts of horror and fear and pain. There are so many other terms for a homosexual person that they could use, and maybe they’re too lazy to look them up or think of new ones, so fag is simply the quickest and easiest of those words to hurl. But I think they know what they’re doing, and I think they intend to inflict the most pain with the least energy possible.

I can’t explain why that word, in particular, has that power, and I suppose it’s up to every individual to decide how they feel about it and what their reaction is going to be. I choose usually to ignore it, which is just my way of avoiding further conflict and subjecting myself to someone else’s ignorance and probably abstract hatred for someone they don’t even know, but choose to define in the narrowest possible manner. Ignoring it doesn’t lessen the hurt, nor does it “teach any lessons” to anyone about why they shouldn’t use it. I seriously doubt that anything I said would cause the least amount of thought on their part, anyway, and I assume they have some personal reason for hurling insults that has nothing to do with me, anyway. Maybe a homosexual stole their job. Maybe a homosexual has a nicer car. Maybe a homosexual married their…

Oh. Oops. That’s where the line can be drawn. Because the chances of that being true are slim, indeed.

What bothers me about the airing of opinions about whether or not homosexual people are worthy of the same rights as non-homosexual people is that those opposed to homosexuals marrying each other are usually also opposed to homosexuals. And the discussion has allowed all those people who might normally be even a little bit ashamed of their hatred to have free reign to spew invective everywhere they want to under the sham of “the redefinition of marriage.”

To be clear, what I’m saying is that where before I only suspected that a lot of people hate me, I am now sure of it because I can watch them calmly discuss their opinion that gay people should have limited rights and, in some cases, have their rights stripped from them, and that being gay is, among other things, a psychological problem or even something akin to bestiality and child rape.

So, there’s that.

To put this in perspective for those of you who are not gay, imagine that you’ve prepared yourself a lovely meal after a day’s work, settled into the couch, turned on the telly and have the fork poised with a bite of your favorite comfort food (mac ‘n’ cheese?) as you warm up the TiVo to catch up on the day’s events, and you watch someone on CNN (or MSNBC, or Fox News or take your pick of some mainstream news channel or program) and you’re suddenly watching two people in conservative clothing debating your right to, oh, let’s say, get married. The moderator wants to turn up the heat a bit and tried to prod his or her guests and tries to extend the idea to what other things you should be denied because you like mac ‘n’ cheese.

Let me also add here that I’m using a fairly innocuous metaphor for homosexuality in deference to those who believe it is a choice rather than something you are born with. You choose to eat mac ‘n’ cheese, you see. It’s not like having blue eyes or being tall or finding the opposite sex attractive, which are obviously innate. After all, I assume you did not choose to find the opposite sex attractive, did you? “Preferring” women in bed over men (or vice versa) isn’t like “preferring” mac ‘n’ cheese over mashed potatoes. It’s not something you could just shrug off when the waitress says, “we’re all out of macaroni tonight, how about mashed potatoes instead?”
“We’re all out of women tonight. How about a man, instead?”

Anyhoo, so, there you are with a fork of steamy, creamy, cheesy mac all ready to go into your salivating gob when you watch someone on The CBS Evening News calmly tell you that you’re not entitled to get married because you like macaroni and cheese. Clearly, you are a substandard individual and the law should reflect that.

Now that there’s this open debate, you discover that it’s everywhere. Everyone has an opinion. To you, it’s a bit absurd that anyone would actually question your rights based on your “preference,” but whatever. In the back of your mind, you always kind of knew that people didn’t approve of you, but at the same time they had always kept it sort of quiet.

But now, there it is on the evening news. And there it is on, and you read stories because it’s involves you personally in a way that most things do not (like, gosh, you feel sorry for the Haitians but you don’t actually live there. you can imagine what it’s like, but you don’t really know – but here’s a thing where you do really know, and it’s not as immediate, horrific and dreadful as living in a nightmare of collapsed buildings and death everywhere, but the “everywhere” portion is expanded to really mean “everywhere” and in this case you don’t have to imagine what it’s like at all because it’s happening to you).

I don’t mean to compare the same-sex marriage debates to the earthquake in Haiti, I only use that as an extreme example of watching something on the news and feeling bad, versus watching something on the news which is about you, personally, and the difference in the level of involvement and emotion you’re going to experience.

This has been going on for a while and, really, I should be used to it. Now our President is making good on a campaign promise to end the policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the U.S. military and the voices are raised again, even louder than before, and it’s the same rhetoric for different reasons.

I am wrong. I have a problem. There is something about me that should be changed, and if it can’t be changed, I should be punished somehow. Like blocking shipping to Cuba or denying food to Iran or making the North Koreans suffer. The laws must be defined in such a way that I am a special class of person, in all the specially wrong ways, to make it clear that I am bad, or a bad influence, or something like that. And that the mere acceptance and inclusion of that specialness will ruin it all for everyone else.

This is my take on things. This is my P.O.V., as it were. The view from here.

What was hidden prejudice is now open prejudice. What was shameful hatred is now proud and justified hatred. People are banding together and raising their voices in public forums because many of the things homosexuals were formerly denied because they were homosexuals may no longer be denied to them, and gosh darn it, that’s too much!

By this point, I realize I’m beating a dead horse and I assume that if you’re here and reading this and still among my small coterie of fans that I don’t need to preach this at you, anyway. So my apologies for that, and feel free to go about your business and feel comforted that this isn’t happening to you. They’re not talking about you. You’re safe. You have what I don’t, and the chances that someone is going to come along and gather hundreds of thousands of signatures on a petition to strip you of anything is unlikely to happen.

Baby steps, as they say. We’re going in the right direction, for sure. I think it will happen, the Prop. 8 mess and the Don’t Ask debacle and so forth, I think those will turn out all right for “the gays.”

We just need to slog through the mud to get there.

February 3, 2010

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