Saturday, April 16, 2011

A word that matters.



Dearest KindaGayBlog,

I like your blog. I like your videos. I like your perspective on life, and on how we make relationships, and on how important those relationships are. I think you are a smart man, who has started to make his life into what he wants it to be.

But I think you are wrong about this word.

But first, I like the basis of what you are saying. I like that you want us to rise above this word as a community, so that we don't allow this word to have power over us. You are right in pointing out that the only reason that we recognize this term as a curse is because we allow it to be one - not because it inherently is.

But I would argue that the vast majority of gay people, particularly those of us who are young and grew up with it in the school yard - hidden somewhere in between the sandbox, monkey bars, and swing set; stuck in the unheard lexicon of childhood, used when we are free from the supervision of teachers and adults and other sources of authority. "You throw like a girl." "Your mom!". "Fag!"

- We don't allow the term to bother us as we encounter it in our day-to-day existence. Even though now it is generally heard under breath (unless your first name is Kobe and your last name is Bryant), we manage to get over it. We are used to it. And we've found the strength to get past it - we've accepted who we are.

We have come out.

Perhaps, KindaGayBlog, this is my eternal educator coming out (won't somebody please think of the kids!), but I remember this term used in its virile sense as a closeted young teen - not as an out-of-the-closet and outed young adult. I can remember hearing it, not as an under-the-breath, slightly ashamed grasp at freedom of speech, but as an insult. And it was for these insults that I stayed in the closet.

And hated myself.

Because I knew that there was something wrong with me. Not because of the term (it is not inherently bad), but because of the tone of it. And as an isolated young man who was interested in other young men, I was not able to get over it. I couldn't imagine ever being able to get over it.

And, because I am only a young gay man, both in the sense of my actual age and in the sense of how long it is since I have come out, I cannot help to remember the pain that being closeted caused me - the fear, isolation, hatred, self-hatred, the false sense of love and acceptance. And I think that, if anything, my concern as a gay man should not be for those who are 'out' but for those who are not yet 'out' - who still hate themselves in ways that I can only just barely remember, and who hear the term 'faggot' and hope that nobody knows that this is who they are (but also who they aren't).

We should be concerned about love. Always concerned about love. And the term 'faggot' prevents us from being able to love ourselves.

And it is for this reason that we should fight to have it removed from popular usage. Yes - making it a big deal makes it clear to those that hate that it is a term they can use and use with success. But it has also forced society to consider it in a new light. People no longer scream out the term 'faggot'; they say it under their breath. Society chides those who do. Even if your name is Kobe and Bryant.

And this is a good thing.

I hope that my opinion does not discourage you from what you do, because I do enjoy your videos.

- Neal Adolph

1 comment:

  1. Not sure you've read my post on this very subject, Neal, but I likened the word faggot to nigger. And I loathe both terms.

    On the other hand, KindaGayBlog has a point, and I suspect, someday, you will accept that faggot no longer holds power over you. Just like I pray it no longer holds power over any other gay man, in or out of the closet.

    I'm sure you know some gay men call each other faggot, just like some black men call each other nigger. Not sure I agree with that, but they're trying to take the word back, diffuse it's effect. I guess each of us has to decide how successful they are.

    I really felt your frustration with this term, and I appreciate what you said.

    ReplyDelete