Homophobia: A Long Way To Go
Homophobia. We have a long way to go, you know?
People say that sort of thing all the time (happy Pride Week, by the way) and there's the requisite and appropriate fretting and sighing that all good people of conscience must exhibit when responding to the evils of the cruel cruel world. And then the good people of conscience go about their daily lives without further thought.
I'm not advocating for hyper-consciousness or -PCness or whatever, because that would be both exhausting and extremely boring, but people don't really watch what they're saying. Exhibit A: Me.
On Sunday, I was having lunch in Dana--rather, having my fourth Danaburger of the weekend (this is true)--and a couple of friends and I were talking about (naturally) the absurdities of a particularly absurd Saturday night (I mean, seriously--was there something in the Natty on Saturday?).
"...and I winked at this guy, you know? I think he thought I was hitting on him," Andrew Rosseau said. Rosseau is a known winker.
"Yeah, I kinda worry about that sometimes," I said. I am also a known winker. I am also, in the context of this conversation, a homophobe--doing that straight guy thing that can be so neatly and reprehensibly summed up as "no homo."
"I mean, whatever," said Rosseau. "Who cares? I was just like, get the fuck off my back, man. Stop being so homophobic. And I was just winking at him anyway."
Backpedaling ensued and the conversation swerved to a discussion of the guy whom I saw pissing in an Apartments stairwell like it was his own personal urinal (this is also true). But I was taken aback by two things: first, how deftly Andrew handled the uncomfortable and critical "dude you're being a homophobe" moment, and second, the ease with which I, an ally, spouted that kind of garbage, even by accident, even at a level of inference and extrapolation.
Andrew's callout was well executed. It was a denouncement of homophobia but it didn't make me more uncomfortable than I had to be (and I did deserve to be uncomfortable--at least). But it was also appropriate to contextualize: I wasn't calling anyone a f*****, I was letting something slip. Andrew chided me, and I'll be more mindful of things, which is the right end of the occasion. Which has a lot to do with point number two, how easily I slid into casual homophobia myself. I shudder to think what a closeted friend might think of me after hearing that single sentence. They probably wouldn't trust me with the information that they were in the closet. And when they came out I don't think they'd be counting on me to support them.
But maybe the real (and less self-congratulatory) point is how easily the guy at the party did. Of course, we don't know the full context of the story; Andrew might have just been bringing it up in the context of "weird stuff that happened last night" in the vein of one of my favorite MCs doing a set worth, in terms of time, about half the load of cash trucked to his tour bus on which he hurriedly fled the state of Maine (this, too, happened). Stories get distorted and exaggerated in that context. Perhaps the guy was just thrown off because he thought another gent was checking him out/flirting with him. I know I've been in that situation. And, after all, everyone was probably pretty drunk at this party and, even if it's not an excuse for anything, you have to let people bend the normal rules of polite discourse. And I hope nobody here would call somebody a f***** to their face.
Still, you can't help but think we have a long way to go.