November 1, 2006

I like to think that most of the people I associate with are pretty open minded. They don't discriminate, they don't feel joy from hurting people, and they help each other out (at least when it really matters). They are a pretty cool bunch, and I am proud to call them friends. But the rest of America I don't necessarily enjoy being around. I don't like people who assume they are right, or people who are opposed to change. I don't like people who vote without a full understanding of the candidate for whom they are voting. Ignorance drives me nuts, and so does people who think they aren't. I know I am ignorant about certain things. I know that when I talk to Gym about photography, I don't know what I am talking about. I am very glad that Josh puts up with me when we watch football, because I still ask a lot of questions. Yes, I am a male that doesn't understand all of the inner-workings of football. But does it really matter if I know the difference between a nickel and a dime lineup? I can still enjoy the game.

OK, I'm off topic (I'm really good at that). Like I was saying, my friends are great. But even some of my greatest friends still do things that bother me. The one thing that bothers me the most is the use of the word "gay". In high school people would always use it in a bad way, much like the way most people use the word "stupid". for example:

"That car is gay".
"Man, my professor gave me an F. That's so gay."
"Divo, quit being gay".
That drives me nuts. In my high school, if you were gay you didn't tell anyone. If someone knew you were gay, you would basically be shunned from everything cool. Those popular assholes ran the school with the fear of "not being accepted" as their weapon of choice (but that's a completely different rant). But back then being called gay, or some reference to homosexuality, was the worst put down you could receive. I'm almost 100% sure that I've never said that something was gay and meant it, unless it was in reference to a person who actually was gay. And I would never use it as a put down. I've seen someone witness a rather flamboyant man and then ask about him. Upon hearing that he was in fact a homosexual they were instantly calmed about him, like it wasn't OK for him to act gay unless he is gay. I can totally understand that stereotypes come from certain defining characteristics, but they shouldn't define how someone is supposed to act. If I want to say that my guy friend has a nice ass, I should be able to say it without people looking at me funny or bringing it up later. Why is being gay so bad? Are some of us still stuck in the high school mentality that it is a bad thing? So what if someone is gay, does that make them less of a person? And why must we use the word in a bad way all of the time? My twin brother is mentally handicapped. He is also one of my favorite people. I have learned a lot from him, yet he has never tried to teach me anything. So if you say something is "retarded" in my house you will get in big trouble. I only did it once, a year or two ago, and I knew I was in trouble before it came out. I couldn't think of a word and it slipped out. But how is that different from saying something is gay? I've found that saying something is retarded is more socially acceptable, yet I find it to be the same idea.

I know a few of my friends that still use the word gay as a derogatory term. John and I like to point out to them how silly it sounds.
Unnamed Friend: "I don't like that car. It's so gay looking."
John: "So you are saying that car likes to have sex with other male cars?"
This usually gets some confused faces. Most of the time they stop saying it. But I still hear it all the time. I've gotten Josh to say that something is "homosexually inspired", but he still uses it in a negative way half the time. And when it isn't, it is a reference to the stereotype of homosexual men. Most people will tell you that stereotypes are a bad thing, yet they use them all the time. I know I am guilty. But that doesn't mean it's OK.

One thing I love to do is talk to others about 'gay people'. Most of the time, if they are willing to argue with me, it's because they feel strongly against the gay community. But as soon as I mention that I have a gay older brother, they are more unsure of what they are saying. To them it's OK to argue with a straight man about how gay people are bad, but not with a gay man. And the fact that I have a gay brother puts me somewhere in between. They know that I personally wont feel discriminated against, but they also know that you don't mess with family. Seriously, I find this hilarious. The other part is that my brother very rarely acts like the token gay man. He doesn't have a lisp, he doesn't dress fancy and he doesn't shave his whole body. If you met him, you would probably think he was straight. Yet when he went to the same high school as me, no one knew he was gay. Hell, I didn't even know until my step-mom said so. But I don't think less of my brother for not tell anyone, because I wouldn't want to deal with those students either. They were brought up that way, and they will probably stay that way. Why? Because people aren't smart enough to question what they think.

While I'm on the topic, I'm glad that I had the upbringing I had. Yes, I went to one of the most white-bread high schools in Minnesota. Yes, some of the people I went to school with were racist and afraid of any minority. But I never felt that. It certainly helped that there was very little confrontation (I think my class was 3% non-white). When I was younger, my step-mom owned a few apartment buildings in North Minneapolis, that bad part of the city. It's the place where gang shootings poor housing run amok. I spent time down there helping her out. Yes, I did feel a little scared some times and I should have. But for the most part, I didn't feel like I was going to get shot. I think now I would feel more uneasy, but I'm glad I had that chance to visit. It helped me get away from the whites of my home town. So when I got to college I met a kid on my floor named Nimit. If you know me, you know that Nimit is one of my best friends here at ISU and I will be living with him next semester (again). I remember when I met him, I honestly had no clue what ethnicity he was. I not proud to say it, but I didn't have that type of upbringing. But I am glad I met Nimit because I was able to start fresh on the Indian culture (and he's a great guy). I didn't have any stereotypes to go by. In fact, it wasn't until my junior year of college that I found out that one of the stereotypes of African-Americans is that they steal stuff (I had some wonderful roommates). I still don't understand that one. So now that I am out of high school, I have many more friends that are non-white. I even have a friend that is Asian, but I have no idea which country they would be from. Honestly, I don't care. I take the person for who they are, and they are very much a white person in an Asian body. Strange but true. My roommate will be the first to tell you that he is "white-washed". Am I going to think less of him for not knowing his native culture? No. He was born and raised in America, so he is American to me. But nationality shouldn't matter either. So I will change that statement. He is my friend, and that is all that matters.

I like to think that I can (for the most part) look beyond race, gender and sexual orientation. I'm not saying I am perfect, as Emilia has pointed out many times, but I certainly hope that I am better than average. I don't want anyone to censor themselves around me, but I do want them to think about what they are saying. Find the beauty in everything and show it off. Don't drag things/people down. I hope that in my lifetime the lines blur and people become more accepting of everything. Not just race and gender, but of other people and how they act. I want my friends to question my comments about dress clothes. I like to dress up and look good. Who doesn't? But as soon as I make a comment about how you shouldn't wear black with brown, they call me Divo (a male Diva). It's about the same as being called gay, at least in my mind. What the hell is wrong with wanting to look good?! Seriously, when I look good, I feel more confident. It's the same reason why you put on jeans this morning instead of sweatpants. Yet when I want to feel good about how I look, I because a semi-homosexual man, in the eyes of my peers. You can question my sexuality if you want, I have no qualms about that, but don't resort to name calling. If I am confident enough in my sexuality to wear pink, then applaud me for it. Don't call me gay. That's just ignorant.

So I say let the straight men worry about how they look. It's alright if a gay man is hairy, or an attractive woman is smart. Men seem to think it's cool is their girlfriend watches football with them, yet their guy friend can't enjoy Sex in the City. Forget that. Give your guy friend your favorite kind of socks for his birthday. Tell your friend that he looks good. It will boost his self esteem. Ignore these "boundaries" that we have put up. It will make the world a better place.

1 comment:

  1. I like the line about "homosexually inspired".