I shouldn’t have to say “don’t be homophobic.”
I shouldn’t have to say “don’t use slurs.”
People I know who should know better do, though. People who have been otherwise supportive and nice and who I know actually aren’t homophobic.
But look, if you use the words, they do damage. To me, as your friend, and to everyone else.
I said repeatedly in the locker room “seriously quit with the homophobic slurs” and I got so much pushback and protest, about how it wasn’t about me, about how I should be thicker skinned, about how “I have a gay (relative of choice) so how could I possibly be homophobic??”
So much defensiveness, so much anger, when it wasn’t me using the slur in the first place. Look, if you say something and I say “don’t use that word, it hurts my feelings,” what you say isn’t “ZOMG I AM NOT HOMOPHOBIC YOU ARE OVERREACTING,” say “oh, hey, yeah. That was shitty, sorry.” Apologize. Don’t do it again. Easy.
But that’s not what happened.
And maybe I got strident.
Maybe I got angry.
Maybe I knew when the team disbanded and I wasn’t offered a spot on another team that that had something to do with it. Because things were fine until then.
Maybe people don’t get how isolating it is to be one of a handful of women, and the only out gay person in the league. Maybe it’s hard to understand what it’s like to be in the minority like that, and the huge impact hearing a slur makes when it’s just you and you’re not sure you belong there. Maybe people don’t know what it feels like to be that different all the time, when you feel like you have more to prove, because of being different. And so you don’t get what a huge, huge impact a slur makes.
It says “no, you don’t belong.”
So no matter how much the rest of your actions may say otherwise, that one word, your defensiveness when I call you on it is huge.
And you think, you think it’s just us in the locker room but your sons, your daughters hear you. Other guys who look up to you and want to be like you and who want to emulate you and get your attention hear you, and then they all do it. Because if you do it, then it must be cool. And you already fucking know it’s not cool. My son then listens to those slurs at school and the message he gets is “never ever talk about my family.”
You see? So it’s you and me in the locker room and every time you say “faggot” or “no homo” it causes these ripples. That affect all of us in spreading waves of damage to individuals, to families, to the sport.
Don’t do it. Please.
Sorry, no; it’s about everyone feeling warm and cozy and comfortable with themselves, and being secure in the belief that how they act and speak is in unambiguous accord with their professed beliefs. Other people’s feelings just get in the way of that. Apparently.
If I ever say something stoopid, feel free to correct me. Or smack me upside the haid.
One of my FB friends (who is also a mom in our town) posted this last week:
Likewise, you know? But I don't see it happening.
Hey, she is amazing, that is a FANTASTIC article.
It’s not ok. It’s never ok. Now that I am out and getting married to another woman, I hear it more and more. And part of me? Wants to hide and cringe and crawl inside my skin that suddenly fits a bit too tightly.
But the stronger side of me opens my mouth and says, “Hey, moron. That’s not nice.”
I have hope that the world is changing, one mouthy person at a time. Loves!
*Wow*. I’d forgotten what that was like. Haven’t thought about that sort of thing since I left the Army National Guard. I couldn’t say anything then; Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was still in force.
The “overreacting” thing is an *excuse* people make, so they don’t have to acknowledge what they’re doing. It’s lame. It’s also very common to hear from men, who will first insult you, then turn around and blame you for giving it back to them. These men are cowards.
Thank you for fighting the good fight. And for reminding some of us that “liberty and justice for all” is yet to come, for so many.
My mom pretty much knocked that language out of me before I even got into high school. She passed by my room when I was yelling at the Atari console for not working properly and I said, “this is so gay.”
She stopped and said, “I don’t think that machine has a sexual preference.”
It made me stop what I was doing and take a moment to realize how stupid I was being for using that term in place of the word “stupid.” Nice to say I haven’t interchanged the words again and will pull this phrase out every time I hear someone else use that word in a derogatory manner and remind them the words are not the same. It’s a small step, but every step counts.
Hmm… I wonder if you could print this out and post it in the locker room. Or even part of it. Even anonymously. Because I bet those guys never though of it that way. But you’re totally right.