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.