Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Homophobic words getting unnoticed

Last Sunday I was at my parents' house before dinner.  My parents, my sister and her boyfriend as well as my brother were there.

During one of the discussions, my brother talks about an object that is weak, made cheap (I don't remember the object in question).  He finished by saying that the object in question is made fag (fif in french).  I look at him, not knowing how to react.  Then my sister replies: "Ah those fag things."  And it ends like that.  At this point I know that they don't want to hurt me or anything, but I don't know how to react.  It's the first time since I came out that a situation like that happens.  I don't want to do a scene, so I decide to delay my reaction.  I think about it a bit during the dinner, but it doesn't really affect me.  I just wonder what's going through everyone else's mind.

So on Tuesday, I sent a quick message to them on Facebook, saying:

Yo, it's not cool to use the word fag, even less to use it to describe something weak or cheap.  Have a good day!

Today, my sister replies:  "??"

So I detail how it happened.

Tonight, my brother calls me.  He says he wanted to call me yesterday but forgot.  He says he doesn't remember.  I recall the events again, but he says he doesn't remember.  He's clearly uncomfortable and he says he didn't mean to hurt me.  I tell him that I'm not mad or anything, but I just wanted them to know to pay attention to the words they use, because it's not OK to say what they have said. 

I have yet to hear again from my sister.

All I want to say (and all of you already know it I'm sure), is that even the well-intended can do something homophobic and the worst part of it is that they don't even realize it.  That's to prove how much homophobia is deeply instilled in our society...  Just a sad fact....


  1. This is one of the hardest things to deal with because well-meaning people do say hurtful things without even realizing that what they said was hurtful, let alone intending to do so. I'm glad your brother reacted relatively well to your message. Hopefully your sister understands in time as well.

    You might want to consider performing a Google search on the phrase "heterosexual privilege checklist." It should bring up some resources that might eventually prove helpful when talking to your family and friends about issues like this.

  2. I don't really understand your sister's reaction, but perhaps she honestly doesn't remember saying it. I suppose it could just be a natural thing to say for some people, which I find even more disheartening. Gay, dyke, fag, etc are not words that should be used as euphemisms for an insulting word. It's not a slight to be born homosexual, bi, or trans. It just is.

  3. Colorful and Shell: i do think that my sister simply didn,t remember. I don't imagine her not understanding.

    Colorful: I've already seen this list: it's so very true!! I think I'll reread it to gather more "munitions"!!!

  4. Hey JF,
    I'm glad to hear that your brother responded positively - it sounds like your sister will as well. I think you're very right about homophobia being so entrenched in our culture that many people don't even notice the ugly comments or slights.

    My "rant" on Matt and Brad's blog was somewhat similar to your post. I live in a very conservative, rural area and I am constantly shocked at the racist/homophobic/sexist comments my neighbors casually throw around (or write on the side of their truck - I shit you not). Too many people are proud of that kind of behavior, which is disheartening. Anyway, I'm glad you spoke up and that the response from your siblings was positive. Yay, family!

  5. Still have a hard time getting my sister to understand that the words she uses can be hurtful to others. She uses the word "gay" to describe a lame party, a friend being stupid, etc. She thinks I am the one taking it the wrong way and that people who use the word "gay" in that context, aren't using it in a homophobic way. She's very supportive of me and really supportive of same-sex rights, always was, even before she found out about me...I think she's just having trouble grasping how much homophobia is ingrained in our society and that people don't even realize what they are saying or doing anymore. It sucks that the culture is like that today, needs to stop. Anyways man, just starting reading/following, great blog.

  6. I personnally understand that most of the time , people don't mean to be mean. However, I want them to understand that these words can be hurtful and don't help to get rid of homophobia.

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