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I don’t like the term fag. I really, really don’t, and while I could go into the philosphical and anthropological reasons why you shouldn’t use it as an insult, I’ll go the PERSONAL STORY route because I think it’s more important to put this into something people might be able to relate to and oh goodness look at this sentence go on and on.
As some of you might know, my parents are gay. Well, My mom’s a lesbian and her wife is a lesbian. My dad, rest in peace, was straight (to the best of my knowledge) and he had no problem when mom came out to him and they seperated. In fact, he helped her get on her feet to take care of me and such when she moved out. For the most part, since I was 8 years old, I grew up with lesbian parents. My mom wore fruit loops (aka gay pride rings, I’m just so used to hearing them called that I guess) and had a tiny, small gay pride rainbow on the back of her car. When her wife would leave for work in the morning, she’d give her a small peck on the cheek goodbye.
This was around the mid 90’s, mind, and prop 22 (and later, prop 8) were yet to be even discussed, let alone passed. Ellen was about to come out (with an ad for the newly formed Olivia Cruises, the lesbian cruise line formed from the remains of the the lesbian Olivia Records, notably playing) and gay kisses on tv came with explicit warnings in front of them telling you to take the kids out of the room. The Gay march on washington was a few years behind and while things were getting better, they certainly weren’t where they are now.
Now, one day my mom received an anonymous from “concerned mom” or someone of that ilk, cursing her and saying that her teeny, tiny peck on her wife’s cheek was harming the neighborhood and oh won’t someone think of the children and all that crap that we heard from all over. This was truly a teeny kiss, too, to the point that my adolescent-near-teen self didn’t even find it gross (as any child that age would think of any parents kissing). After getting the letter, because my mom is an awesome motherfucker, my mom gave her wife one HECK of a kiss the next morning and then returned to tiny pecks.
One week later, the day of my first time going to San Diego Comic-Con back in 1996, we found the car window smashed in and the tires slashed.
A kid at school, back in 1994, was calling me a fag and singing a song making fun of lesbians. I told her to stop making fun of lesbians, because my mom was gay and that she shouldn’t be mean.
Later that day, my mom got a call home from the teacher saying that I was spreading vicious lies about my mom being gay and that I was lucky I wasn’t put in detention. The bully never was punished.
I went on a school trip with a girl scout troop with my parents, around 1997? or so. We went to Pharaoh’s lost kingdom, a now-closed themepark about twenty minutes from where I lived, with my Girl Scout troop. A fun time was had by all, but when we returned to the car the word faggot was etched into the back of the car. We sort of stood around, and one of the girls tried to turn it into the word “pretty” with dust on the trunk of the vehicle.
We weren’t rich, so we didn’t really go to the movies often. We would rent a movie once a month, and it was a big deal. I’d always beg for mom to rent me a video game and she always obliged, which is how I got to play Earthbound and Lunar and other delicious rpg treats. One time, our first time as a real family, we went and picked up Fargo (I forgo-ed a game for a battered vhs tape of some anime. Hey, I was young!) and something for us to watch together (not sure what). As we drove out, a car slowed down next to us, and began to honk. They then gave us the finger, made shooting motions, and screamed fag over and over. This was about 1998 or so.
Then there was the table next to us loudly berating gays after seeing my mom and her wife sit down. Or the restaurant that refused to seat us. Or the fact that I had to sign a waiver to look up the word “homosexual” on a school’s copy of Encarta.
I could go on, but I’m honestly not feeling up to it.
Anyway, if you’re a straight person and you use the term fag and I bristle and leave the room, you now know why. I wish you wouldn’t, but what can I do other than tell my story and point out how that sort of casual homophobia enables the harsher homophobia that hurts others. So use another word. I’ll thank you, as will the other kids with gay parents.
Oh, and finally: having gay parents didn’t make me gay. I am a pretty big fan of dongs right here.