News At A Glance

So, while just a few weeks ago we were lauding Utah’s progressive move forward in striking down the ban on same-sex marriage, we may have to take some of that celebration back.

Here, Gov. Herbert is explaining exactly how he intends to fuck with equality
Here, Gov. Herbert is explaining exactly how he intends to fuck with equality

Utah’s Governor, Republican Gary Herbert, has declared that all same-sex marriages performed between the time the federal judge struck down the ban, and the US Supreme Court’s stay on the decision will not be recognized. That means that about 1,300 couples status is currently up in the air. In an email to cabinet members, Herbert outlines instructions showing just how much these couples are in limbo.

Basically, any poor soul who has some kind of government connected change in the works (like last name change, driver license, etc.) will be put on hold until the ‘situation’ has been evened out. What gets me is the last few sentences: ‘We also recognize that these changes affect real people’s lives. Let us carefully and considerately ensure that we, and our employees throughout the state, continue to treat all people with respect and understanding as we assist them.’

Really? Respect and understanding, huh? How so – “Sorry we don’t see you as equal citizens, but you can still register to vote!”

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Following up with that same sense of ‘fuck you’ is Representative Eric Turner (R-Ind.) who wants to ban any form of

The incredibly attractive Eric Turner. Now I know why he hates everyone...
The incredibly attractive Eric Turner. Now I know why he hates everyone…

union outside of a marriage between one woman and one man. It hearkens back to Michigan’s Prop. 2 of 2004, defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The bill, titled HJR-3 wants to alter Indiana’s state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

I did a quick run through of the constitution, and I don’t see any amendment currently defining marriage, unlike Michigan’s constitution. However, also like Michigan’s constitution, Section 23 of their Bill of Rights states: ‘The General Assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens.’ Which this would be a direct violation of. (By the way, readers, I’ll be running a post of the recent history of same-sex marriage, and breaking things down quite extensively. I know I’ve done this before, but because of the changes from the initial post, it bears updating)

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Football already has enough innuendos. I'm good...
Football already has enough innuendos. I’m good…

A lot of athletes, particularly football and basketball players, have been coming out of the locker room lately. However, perhaps the craziest story falls to that of Chris Kluwe, former punter for the Minnesota Vikings. He was fired, he claims, after he had been publicly supporting same-sex marriage. Kluwe had previously stated that the Special Teams coach, Mike Priefer, had made some incredibly inflammatory statements, saying that gays should be rounded up, placed on an island, and that island should be nuked until it glows. Kluwe further stated that he would do his best to see that Priefer never coaches again. However, Kluwe is now stepping back a bit, stating that with some proper counseling and classes, Priefer might get better. Either way, the fact that Kluwe, who is not gay, was fired for supporting gays, says enough to me about the ‘fixability’ of Priefer’s bigotry. Only, of course, if all of this is true.

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And finally, our friends in France are at it again. 25 year old Julien Rochedy, a rising star of the National Front Party, is not only defending Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law, but is demanding it be brought into law in France as well.

Methinks thou doth protest too much (he's awfully manscaped...isn't he???)
Methinks thou doth protest too much (he’s awfully manscaped…isn’t he???)

When asked about the reports of violence and arrests against homosexuals and supporters in Russia, Rochedy said he didn’t believe them. When asked about the Holocausts, Rochedy said he didn’t believe in Jews. The National Front is basically France’s equivalent to the Tea Party.

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Sticks and Stones…

As promised, here’s the follow up to the previous post, Casual Homophobia.

Homophobic language didn’t always exist in society. In fact, many of the words we view as derogatory didn’t start out that way.

This post will address the following terms: gay, faggot/fag, queer, and dyke – as these are the terms most often used in a pejorative context.

GAY – Happy_smiley_face

The ultimate origin of the word ‘gay’ is unknown, but seems to come from the Old French word gai, meaning joyful, happy; pleasant, agreeably charming. The earliest documentation of the word comes from the 12th Century as a surname.

In the early 14th Century, gay was defined as ‘stately and beautiful; splendid and showily dressed’ – still an adjective, and not a noun. Certainly there was no negative connotation to the word at this point. In fact, it wasn’t until the 17th Century that the word gay was used to suggest immorality. Geoffrey Chaucer, lauded as the Father of English 23Literature, wrote in The Canterbury Tales in 1630:

But in our bed he was so fresh and gay,
And ther-with-al so wel coude he me glose,
Whan that he wolde han my bele chose,
That thogh he hadde me bet on every boon,
He coude winne agayn my love anoon.
Which, when translated, reads:
He was an animal in bed, though, and knew how to turn me on so much when he wanted my vagina that even if he beat every bone in my body, he could win my love again in no time at all.
This trend towards a negative connotation to the word gay continued, and in the 1890s, was used to suggest promiscuity. Brothels were referred to as gay bath houses. However, the word was still not used to specifically cat-sexydescribe homosexual men. It most likely got a boost in that direction during the same time period. The term gay cat was used by transients to describe a young or new hobo. The Gay Cat was often singled out and beaten, and many times, would become a slave of sorts to older, more experienced hobos, like a personal assistant. And while none of the older transients would come out and say so, it was known that being in that position, sexual acts were often part of the deal. These Gay Cats became a subculture, and apparently, homosexuality was a norm for the group.
Then, in the late 1940’s, ‘gay’ showed up as a slang term for homosexuality in psychological writings. However, it was still not easily distinguishable from older meanings of the word. From Rorschach Research Exchange and Journal of Projective Techniques, written in 1947:
After discharge A.Z. lived for some time at home. He was not happy at the farm and went to a Western city where he associated with a homosexual crowd, being “gay,” and wearing female clothes and makeup. He always wished others would make advances to him.
As you can see, the term ‘gay’ as used in the above example could either refer to the fact that the man was homosexual, or that he dressed in a flamboyant and showy fashion.
In the mid-20th Century, the term was applied to homosexuality, as in gay being deviant from the norm (homosexuality) and straight applied to heterosexuality – as in following the normal course of nature. 
However, the Dictionary of American Slang claims the word was used by homosexuals among themselves since at least 1920, lending to the password nature of the speak-easies during Prohibition. The term wasn’t openly used as a noun to reference homosexual males until 1971, but had been used prior to that as an adjective to describe the effeminate behavior of homosexual men. It was at this time that the term ‘gay’ began its journey into becoming a pejorative word. The use as an insult increased in the 1980’s (especially with the rise of AIDS and its stigma) and especially in the late 1990’s.
However, it wasn’t until 2000 that the term took on the slang meaning of ‘bad; inferior or undesirable’.
faggotFAGGOT
Initially, this word appeared in the late 13th Century, again derived from an Old French word, fagot, meaning a bundle of twigs bound up. This word quickly took on negative connotation in 1914 when it was applied to male homosexuals. The reference came from Jackson and Hellyer – A Vocabulary of Criminal Slang, With Some Examples of Common Usage. The shortened term ‘fag’ didn’t appear until 1921. The application of this term to gay men could have come from a contemptuous term for a woman, especially an old, homely woman. The reference is to the bundle of sticks – something awkward that has to be carried – like that of a worthless woman. This term came from a slang for baggage, referencing the woman, and was from the 1590’s. 
There is a bit of an Urban Legend behind the use of the term. It’s been said that the term became widely used to 1121reference homosexual males when Christianity was burning heretics at the stake. Heretics that recanted were required to wear an embroidered faggot on their sleeve, reminding them of who they were. It’s akin to the scarlet letter. However, the term was used mainly in England, where the preferred method of punishing homosexuals for violating the law was hanging. There is no evidence to back up the claim that faggot was applied to gay males in this fashion.
Now the term is primarily used in a pejorative sense in North America, especially by protest groups, most notably the Westboro Baptist Church, as an epithet to cause shock and garner attention.
Queer1QUEER
Initially appearing in 1922 in a derogatory sense to describe homosexual men, the word queer dates back to the 1500’s, when it meant ‘strange or peculiar’.  The term has never really taken the same kind of pejorative stronghold as ‘faggot’ and ‘gay’ have, however. This doesn’t mean it has lost its derogatory nature. It is now applied to those individuals who don’t necessarily classify themselves under the LGBT identities.
images (13)DYKE
Again, us lesbians are sort of left behind. Originally, the term ‘dyke’ shows from 1896 as vulgar slang for the vulva. Its application to lesbians are not clear, but could be from the term bulldyker – a term that appeared in 1920’s novels connected to the Harlem Renaissance. For example, in Claude McKay’s 1928 novel, Home to Harlem he writes:
Claude McKay
There’s evidence that the term may have come from the word morphodite, a dialect variant of hermaphrodite – a term that was once used to reference homosexuals. The word dyke originally referred to a specific type of lesbian – those with more masculine qualities, and today the word has a large spectrum for application to various types of lesbians based on appearance and demeanor.
What I find incredibly interesting is that these words didn’t really fall under the classification of pejorative language until after the United States was established. A country that was once called a ‘Melting Pot’ was also the least tolerant of many forms of diversity. And it seems to have continued that way, even today. I mean, it wasn’t until 2000 that someone suddenly decided that gay was synonymous with stupid. And with the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness did nothing but further the derogatory nature of these words.
And why? Why was it necessary to associate these words with homosexuality, especially in a negative fashion? Was it an attempt to contain that which was misunderstood? Even so, why do we perpetuate the negativity with these words today?
I don’t know that we’ll ever truly be able to answer those questions. At least not satisfactorily. But, from here on out, I’m going to be far more aware of the words others use around me, and I will hold them accountable for their words.

Casual Homophobia

While the LGBT community has made leaps and bounds increasing tolerance and acceptance, homophobia is still clearly evident in our society. We are used to seeing the hate-laced diatribes of members of the Religious Right hell-bent on putting all homosexuals on an island, and then blowing that island up. We hear the ignorant remarks from politicians, celebrities, corporate officers, and citizens as they try to condemn us to eternal damnation or convince us that we’re second class citizens.

But what we’re missing (or at least I missed it) is another, quieter form of homophobia – Casual Homophobia. It’s a term I hadn’t heard of until today. And it’s running rampant through social media, especially among the younger generation.

Initially, I was going to just discuss the origins of some of the pejorative language, like faggot and dyke. I still plan on doing that, because it’s important to know how these terms came about, and when they became derogatory. However, in doing research for the post, I ran across a website with some incredibly sad statistics. It’s run by The Institute for Sexual Minority Studies And Services, within the University of Alberta.

No Homophobes

The site looks for the use of faggot, dyke, ‘no homo’, and ‘so gay’ in Tweets posted on Twitter. That was the current count just for today, at about 5:27 pm. Over twenty five thousand tweets contained the word faggot or fag. You can see for yourself how quickly the numbers climb by clicking on the picture. From there, you can also see the use of the tweets as they roll in.

thats-so-gay-sound-machine-2So what is casual homophobia? It’s using phrases like ‘That’s so gay!’ in an incredibly passive manner, not paying attention to what that phrase actually implies. It’s the act of complacency we partake in when we don’t call people out for saying ‘that’s so gay!’ regardless of how innocuous the statement may seem. The website defines casual homophobia as language we use that may not be intended to be hurtful to any one particular person or group of people, but is ultimately rooted in a derogatory nature.

As the site says, we’ve addressed racist language. Terms like nigger are considered highly volatile language and are classified under hate speech. We’ve worked at addressing sexist language as well. Rather than say ‘mankind’ we’re far more likely to use the all-inclusive ‘humanity’.

But little to nothing has been done to address homophobic and transphobic language. As members and supports of morgan-freeman-on-homophobiathe LGBT community, that falls upon us. We need to make a big stink about this. Because this is a situation where sticks, stones, and words can hurt. The impact of the term dyke may face no real consequence with me personally, but it could seriously affect someone struggling with their sexual identity. It could keep them from being who they really are, and in extreme cases, push them over the edge to suicide.

Embracing these terms is not enough. Sure, it might be fine if a gay man and his group of friends call each other faggot or fairy in a playful manner. Yeah, it may make the impact of the word sting a bit less. But it doesn’t lessen the impact of the word faggot when someone else uses it to try and demean someone else.

Dykes_on_Bikes_logoI’m not saying that groups like Dykes on Bikes are in the wrong. They’re proud of who they are, and make a show of it by taking the word and flinging it back at protesters. But for that teenage boy who feels completely alone in this world because the other teenagers around him call each other fags, embracing the term isn’t going to help him feel accepted.

Letting people know it’s not okay to equate gay with stupid or wrong – that’s what needs to 4436265052_Homophobia_xlargebe done. Telling your friends that the word fag is not acceptable – put a stop to it. Of course we have freedom of speech, but that only falls to the constraints that government cannot restrict or restrain speech (certain exceptions apply, even then). We also have the right to live our lives without fear that death could be a justifiable reaction for who we are.

I ask you to visit this website. Take a look at the tweets. Think about what casual homophobia means. Then do something about it.

I’ll be writing an origin of homophobic language in the next post.