Reader Rant: I am a gay OBcian. I noticed with broad interest that this blog published a photo and short commentary on some recent anti-gay graffiti in Ocean Beach. One commenter even pointed out the obvious hate slur in a piece of graffiti – but it brought out the usual response, variations on “No, you’re wrong.”
Some gay men address each other as “fag” in the same diminutive and familiar way as some black people address each other with the “n-word”. Words like “fag”, “faggot” and “queer” should not be used by straight people to describe gay people, just as the “n-word” should not be used by white people to describe black people. These words are sometimes used within a group, but should never be used from outside the group. When coming from outside the group, they are an expression of hate and intolerance for that group, even if not intended that way.
Younger people who did not live through the civil rights movement or the gay liberation movement tend to use hate slurs in a very cavalier way. They don’t know how much hate is packed into those words, so they just toss them around like it was nothing. Their lack of knowledge does not excuse their use of hate slurs.
Just to illustrate how far gay liberation still has to go, consider this: How would the community have responded if that graffiti had been the “n-word”?
What if it had been a racial slur instead of sexual orientation slur? I suspect the public outcry would have been much louder and not so supportive of the graffiti artist’s right of free expression. Gay people are still “okay to hate”.
So often, when someone takes a stand, the immediate response is “No, you’re wrong”. Regardless of the facts, too many people just have to take the opposing view. How can anybody defend the use of a hate slur? That’s why I keep my mouth shut most of the time and keep my opinions to myself, to avoid the inevitable confrontation. The inevitable “no, you’re wrong” response pushes my hot button and gets me riled up. Not many people can understand the concept of disagreeing and both being right.