Unconscious homophobia damages lives

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Written to a friend on unsubscribing from his email joke list.

"I'm not Jewish and never will be."

I don't clearly remember the message that prompted my unsubscribing. There've been a few that tempted me to leave the list. I line so fine as to be invisible to most people had been passed I guess. And not a bad idea to quit before something strongly offended me.

Notions of homophobia are necessarily blurry and idiosyncratic. The day my father told to die and starve aside I've hardly ever seen it (that wasn't a traumatic day: I never liked the old bastard). I'm a heterosexual seeming queer and was lucky enough to come out after Stonewall.

All of my sexually aware life I've loved visibly gay men: the swishy guys with limp wrists who leave a trail of glitter in their wake.

Even if they weren't feminine in manner as boys they were skinny, shy - wimpy, sometimes. Growing up they were often picked on or laughed at. But that is equally true of many a straight nerd boy. More seriously they grew up in a social context thick with words that implied that they were inferior, contemptible. Maybe it was just a couple of het males laughing and calling each other 'fag.' There are plenty of other expressions that imply that a guy who doesn't want pussy is diminished or odd.

For a young gay man even if he's yet to come out the implicit heterosexist propaganda is damned hurtful. Regardless of who you want to fuck (or be fucked by) without self-acceptance and sexual satisfaction you're apt to become a worthless adult (maybe even Attorney General).

Sorry that some of this sounds like self-help crap.

Those nervous nelly boys have been my lovers. Because of the delight they've given me I owe them a debt. I'm alive to that debt as I am to few things. That leaves me perhaps over-conscious of unfelt, unintended homophobia. The person uttering them isn't actually homophobic. But I have a sharp sense of who might be hurt without ever remembering the words.

I don't grudge straight men this that much (it has more to do with my own sense of personal honor). Gay men do it knowingly. We even have a word for it: sissyphobia. Reminiscent of the light skinned blacks that used to regard themselves as superior to their darker kith.

Today a guy that I like was in the shop. A few weeks ago he said "Wally Cox that f--." The dashes are just that. If he'd completed the sentence I don't know what I'd've done. He's a nice guy. If he'd said fag I'd have never been able to accept him in the store again. As it is I can't help but regard him with doubt.

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Richard

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