I recently caught up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while. Good friends, we’ve been through a lot together.
One friend of mine who is known for not having a filter and for often saying inappropriate things picked me up and drove me there. But I also know that he is the kind of guy that would do anything for anyone. Something I noticed though was that he used the word lame and gay interchangeably. “So and so isn’t coming that’s so gaaayyy.”
He was using it a fair bit. So I straight up said “C’mon, man, why are you using that word, you know it doesn’t mean any of those things?” His response was that he wouldn’t do it around people that were gay that it’s just us. But, I know he uses it all the time, it’s become a habit. The dangerous things about words are that when we use them often enough they become a habit and we don’t even realize we are saying them anymore. They might lose meaning to us but they don’t to everyone else that has to hear them. When we joined our other friends, everyone began using it, some of whom I was particularly surprised at. When I seemed annoyed, I was plagued with questions of “where is the old Tish?” “And just because you do a couple of gender studies subjects at your fancy university.” I was tempted to say more but nothing I was saying no matter how kind was being remotely listened to and mostly was just laughed at so I remained quiet. After that I naturally just wanted to withdraw into myself but I made an effort to join in all the other conversations and jokes.
To say that I felt incredibly sad after this night with them is an understatement. I was saddened by my friends word but also that I couldn’t seem to communicate clearly. That I couldn’t seem to find the right words to say or the right way to say them. I felt like a failure. I wanted to say that there shouldn’t be words that are okay to just use in certain situations that would be offensive in others. That using words like gay in a negative way is hurtful to me personally but also that there’s nothing funny about it. That you can’t presume that everyone is okay with it. That I am gay that everytime you use that word negatively you hurt me, your friend. You can’t always presume to know that it’s fine to use language in certain sutuations just because you are all friends. Because putting down other people among friends just because they’re not present is not okay. Everytime I started the subject was changed or they starteded saying stop being so gaaayyyy. I love a laugh as much as the next person, I’m not someone to try to squash any laughter. I’m okay with laughing at myself, I have to be because I’m probably on of the most laughable people I know. I love laughing at myself because I’m forgetful, because I have a knack of finding awkward ways to do things, or because sometimes I’ll just hear things plain wrong. That Christmas carol Feliz Navidad I used to hear as “At least snuffy duck”. Sometimes I laugh aloud at myself and this can be awkward when you walk past someone on the street. However, it seems wrong to call things by a sexual orientation as though it’s a bad thing and to then find it funny. Although I found that it vastly improved my mood if I imagined whatever they were calling gay covered in rainbows and glitter and sparkling fabulously and being happy. I think it kept me calm and loving, but I know when others call something gay they have a very different image in their heads.
I love these people, this is only one small small side of them they are some of the most giving, funny, and kind people I know. I’m not hating on anyone and there is so much more to them than using a poor choice of words one night. Nevertheless, having all of them stand together when most of them at least knew it was wrong but thought it was fine for a night hurt me.
Because we would never say, “damn, that’s so straight” instead of “that’s so lame”. Regardless of where you fall, what your view of homosexuality and the bible is. As followers of Jesus, we are called to love one another and to build each other up with our words as well as our actions. (Or if you don’t believe in Jesus just as a kind human being), Calling something gay does not do this. It is not loving it is not kind.
I am more scared than ever to come out now. Bit I am also more determined than ever to do it, because we are so few at least in my area, that is it any wonder there is so much ignorance and confusion? I am studying God’s word, praying, and trying to follow Jesus in every aspect of my life. Soon I will come out and I want to show those I love that you can be gay and Christian. That I am still the girl or woman that they always knew that loves Jesus and that loves people fiercely. I want to create an honest and open dialogue. I want to speak to people always with love but also with honesty and conviction. I want to show them that being gay is not a negative thing.
If anyone has any advice on how they would have handled things I would love it, advice that is kind and loving is always welcome.
Thanks for reading!!