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I’m not normally one to stand up and make a fuss about things like this, but if I’ve learnt anything whilst writing for Vada, it’s that the little things really do matter and your voice can be heard. This time I’m addressing something we’re probably all guilty of, and have heard before – casual slander. It’s not often I’m motivated to write about something so supremely negative but someone opened up a big pink can of rainbow worms, and now I’m ready to don my fluffy boxing gloves for society once more.
Ms. Dynamite played at my work recently (no, she didn’t even sing that song) and I was approached by a regular, known for being a nuisance, but effortlessly charming. After some small talk about fine spirits and our delightfully offensive prices, he drunkenly proclaimed “this place is so gay”. Cue the perfected scowl. “…Mate, are you one of those?” followed by a limp wristed action which warped me straight back to a primary school playground. My response, of course, left a lot to be desired – void of all regular barman courtesies, instead full of years of discriminatory rage. The rag tag crowd of mutants that Madame Dynamite lassoed in were dumbstruck by my initial outburst. There was an unfillable awkward silence at the bar until I refused him service and started to clean away the fury instead. Overhearing him bitching about my (frankly justified) reaction, I hastily swung around: “Next time, just ask me if I’m gay. It’s okay to do that. Imagine if I had asked if you were ‘one of those’?”.
At this point, I tenderly mention that this casual homophobe was mixed race. Can you imagine the backlash I would have encountered had I taken his same archaic approach towards a minority. Why was his disgraceful attempt at homophobia met without the batter of eyelids, whilst my hypothetical racist comment would’ve resulted in an immediate uproar? I did not choose to be gay just as he did not choose his race. There is clearly absolutely nothing wrong with either. You should be proud of whoever you are, whatever you are, and understand that it’s not okay to single out somebody else’s traits and define them against yourself as “flaws”.
This made me think. Why do people so openly still use “gay” as a negative adjective? The derogatory nouns are ever present – poof, queer, fag – and have been around for years. Their origins vary but tend to refer back to definitions surrounding irregularity or difference. “Queer”, for example, is still used (albeit innocently) by my Nan when talking about something out of the ordinary. Maybe it’s this old fashioned approach to the language which is lending itself so readily to derogatory terms. The attitude that gay people are “different” just isn’t changing quickly enough. There is one difference: I like dicks and they like chicks. That’s all.
Although you might think it seems meagre and petty, it’s words like “gay” which are affecting our status in society. If gay still means shitty, no wonder we have been long denied the right to marry. People are so swift to talk about gay marriage as though it’s some crazed theory that threatens to destroy the sanctity of “normal” marriage. Sadly, the negative stigmas attached to homosexuality mean that many will still see us a second class, consciously or not. To them, we’re too often portrayed as sodomy-crazed substrata of society, including paedophiles who thrive off of chaos and are intent on abuse. God hates fags? God ‘made’ us the way we are so I’m pretty sure he’s doing alright. Oh, and also? God’s not real so disregard this entire argument and just quietly sit down, Westboro Baptist Church. You fucking morons. Anyway.
Let’s put the shoe on the other foot, just for argument’s sake, shall we? The next time you find yourself in a situation where people are using gay as a synonym for shitty, just find another minority to bash and casually slip that into the conversation. “Oh my god, that is so Muslim” or maybe even “you don’t have any money? That’s so black”. Sound okay to you guys? No, I didn’t think so either. So, please, if you throw the word “gay” around like it’s meaningless, think before you speak. What you say negatively affects the perception of a minority who are in need of a break. Just listen to Gretchen Wieners and try to make “fetch” happen instead. Mean Girls really could be our salvation after all…