This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness. Many of you are familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky.
Many people protest most mightily at the idea of being called a homophobe. How dare we say such a thing?! Why they loooove the gays! They've never ever ever been a homophobe, could we, precious. Why they're so shocked they need to sit down, pass the smelling salts; oh how could we be so mean?
Except, of course, when we listen to them, to the words they use, to how they react and we can see a different story. We listen, we can see how they really feel about us.
So we know how you really feel about us if your word choice suggests that being gay is a crime or something to be ashamed of. If you refer to someone “alleging” someone is gay, or making allegations about being gay - this has very powerful connotation - we allege people commit crimes, we use "allegedly" to say "controversial" things with as much cover as possible. Or if someone is “accused” of being gay or “suspected” of being gay
Similarly, people do not “admit” or “confess” to being gay. If you talk about being gay as if it’s a crime, we know how you really feel.
Or if you feel the need to “defend” against being called gay. You defend from an attack - how can being called gay be an attack unless being gay is a negative thing? Now you can correct people, certainly. You can make it clear they're wrong. You can contradict them. But "defend" against them says you are being attacked by being suggested to be gay
We know how you really feel about us if you are insulted by being called gay. If you are outraged, if you feel the need to react angrily, or lose your ever loving shit. If you find the "allegation" "disturbing" or "disgusting" or "offending" or "outrageous"; if you need to "protect yourself” or your “reputation” and most certainly if you consider it “libelous” or “slanderous.”
We know how you really feel about us if you think being called gay is shaming, if you think being called gay reduces someone or lessens them or demeans them.
We know how you really feel about us, if you use "gay" or a slur as an insult or to say something is bad. No, it doesn’t matter if your target is straight and no, it doesn’t matter if you’re actually talking about an inanimate object. The mere fact our identity is your insult, is your put down? That tells us how you really feel.
When you use buzz words like “agenda” and “lifestyle” and “gay mafia” we know exactly what you really feel about us. When your mind instantly leaps to stereotypes, when you use the haters words we know what you feel about us
And absolutely no-one believes you mean it when you say "not that there's anything wrong with that." You've already made it clear you think there is something wrong with us.
We are listening, we hear the words you use and we know what you really mean; we’ve had a lot of practice listening very carefully to test the waters and see where and with who we may be safe. You don’t need to tell us how you really feel, we can already hear it.