As luck would have it, a big chunk of my circle of close friends happens to be gay. I say happens to be because it’s not like I walked up to this posse of dudes and ladies and was like “Hey homosexuals, please let me into your clique”. I’ve just met a ton of people over the years, weeded out the crappy ones and am left with a predominantly gay Top Tier. Like everyone, I have inside jokes with my peeps and we say a lot of inappropriate stuff and then laugh & laugh & laugh. But that’s private talk.
I may have one of the crudest mouths this side of the Mississippi but here are some things I never say: “Fag Hag”, “My Gays”, “The Gays” or any variation of such. All of the amazing legal and cultural strides that we’ve seen in the past few years offer a glimpse of equality on the not-so-far-off horizon which means that now, even seemingly innocent or said-in-jest words like those, matter so much more.
Ladies, it’s time we seriously stepped up our “watching what we say” game.
When comedian Kathy Griffin goes on stage for her stand-up specials, there’s always a moment where she calls “Where my gays at?” or something along those lines. Then, the audience cheers and she basks in it, preening and fluffing her hair. It infuriates me. How can someone so successful, who works so hard on behalf of the LGBTQ community, be so flagrant and irresponsible? It’s one thing to talk shit about Paris Hilton but quite another to belittle her own fan-base and speak as if they’re her property. Like a harem. I mean, technically, they’re the ones who fill her bank account with $$$ so it’d be more accurate if they referred to her as “Our Kathy” but that’s neither here nor there.
Now, myself and all you smarties who are reading this already know all about how unacceptable it is to use derogatory language about people of different races/ethnicities, even just as a joke, because it perpetuates a still covertly racist culture. Calling your gay friends “My Gays” or referring to gay people as “The Gays” or a woman as a “Fag Hag” is basically the same as using the N word. I know what you’re thinking:
But hear me out. Gay is certainly not a derogatory term on its own but would you call your Black friends “My Blacks” or your Asian friends “My Asians”? Hell no, you wouldn’t! Because those two letters M-Y change everything, don’t they? Also, referring to someone you care about by what they are, as opposed to who they are, just kind of sucks.
Your “gays” are not yours. They’re individuals who, no matter how much fun you have with them, are engaged in a full-on, totally serious civil rights battle. “The Gays” implies “Other” and the whole fucking point is that they are not Other, they are SAME! These little words do matter. And the F-A-G word? Just don’t say it, OK? Even if your gay friend is like “It’s fine with me if you say it”, still don’t because I’d wager a guess that it’s not fine with the overwhelming majority of LGBTQ people who overhear you throwing it around like it’s no big thang.
You’re not an honorary gay man or a gay man trapped in a woman’s body, as I’ve heard so many girls gleefully exclaim. Stop with this careless talk! As hetero friends and family of the LGBTQ community, we can show our support in like, a million ways. This essay is one of my ways and maybe one of yours is to stop using hurtful language in reference to the gay people in your life, who you probably love a whole bunch.