Homophobic Slang and Slurs: Part 1
January 30, 2011 § 3 Comments
“You’re so gay,” my teammate jested as I stood holding our motel room door open for a friend. It was the night before a greatly anticipated indoor track meet and our team was bunking in a Motor Inn. After 4 hours on a cramped bus, our runners had grown rowdy and the aforementioned shout wasn’t uncommon in our hallways. Typical team banter some may say, and I have grown accustom to it as that, but the banter can still be cutting.
The phrase wasn’t shouted jokingly at me, merely at my teammate who I was opening the door for. His best friend, my roommate, said it and both chuckled afterwards. Knowing their intention, I took no offense. I never do. For them “gay” has grown synonymous with stupid or lame. Because of this new meaning, I grew calloused to the phrase during my Freshman and Sophomore years of track when words were hastily thrown about. Yet as I reflect, I regret my progression towards being unaffected and now I strive to end the use of a phrase which irked me while I was closeted.
“Hey, can we not use that phrase anymore?” I asked as the joke lingered in the air.
“Sure thing Craig,” they said with smiles. That was all it took.
Though no longer affected by gay slang, I should be. I am obliged to prevent others from using “gay” as a synonym for stupid or lame. Growing numb to the pain may stave off further destruction, but if it means losing connection with those closeted and my ability to help them, I would rather wince in pain or feel the burn.
Fortunately, my track team is rather accepting. Their support is one thing I have never questioned and when asked to stop using phrases such as “that’s gay,” they do. Every single time. Just as they did that night in the motel room. These people I train with every day, spend more hours with than my parents, talk over dreams and goals with, are my teammates. While they may not understand my homosexuality, those who can accept it have and those who can’t have not let it tear apart our camaraderie. We may not agree with each other, but we are still a team and I am most thankful for our mutual understanding of that.
It is this mutual understanding that allows the brotherhood of sport to transcend even homophobia on our team and allows us to succeed as teammates, friends. It is this understanding which transforms a team into a family.