Note: I apologize in advance to any conservatives who may be reading this. I am sure that you are nothing like the “conservatives” portrayed in this post.
If you’re reading this blog, then there’s a 95-99 percent chance that you’re a friend of mine, and were probably directed here via facebook or my gchat status. If that’s the case, upon seeing the title of this post, you might be thinking, “A-ha! J is finally coming out of the closet! I knew it!” Well, sorry folks, I’m not actually gay. If you don’t believe me, look at the contents of my closet and you will not find anything remotely insinuating that I have any sort of fashion taste, except for a few stylish hats that a friend gave me (and have been my only means of attracting women for the past 4 years—probably because it makes them think I’m gay, and that’s a good thing for attracting women, from what I understand). The chain-mail vest I’d been wearing for karaoke for all of those years was actually on loan from my brother-in-law, and I recently returned it to him. For those of you who don’t me, for many years I’d put on a chain mail vest when going to karaoke (and occasionally to 80s night). But I’m totally not gay.
That is all beside the point. This entry is not about my lifestyle choices, but about homosexuality in the abstract. After all, this is a San Francisco blog, and homosexuality is a pretty big part of the San Francisco experience. The estimates vary, but I’ve heard that up to 1/3 of the population of the city is gay. There are some theories as to why. My favorite is that during the gold rush of the mid-1800s, when San Francisco became San Francisco (kind of literally—shortly before that it was “Yerba Buena”), the population of the city was 90% male (and the only women were prostitutes), and so with few women around, the men resorted to having sex with each other, and the trend stuck around long after the gold prospectors left. I’m not sure this is true—I think it’s more that the liberal atmosphere that started with the beat poets and the Summer of Love made it clear that our fair city was more accepting of people who deviated from the mainstream than most other cities in the U.S. (even New York!).
But this post is not meant to be a history lesson. I actually haven’t decided exactly what it’s going to be about yet, but it will most likely be 3 or so pages’ worth of bashing conservative, religious, asshole homophobes. I know, I’m likely preaching to the choir, but I’m going to try to make this post slightly more interesting than the myriad other pieces of a similar nature found in the liberal media these days. In particular, I’m hoping that this post will be noticeably more interesting than anything ever written by Mark Morford on the subject (for example, this piece). I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Mark Morford, but he’s a popular San Francisco Chronicle/SFGate columnist whom I can’t stand. He is supposedly “edgy” because he’s not afraid to talk about how he’s superior to everybody because he’s so enlightened and everybody else is so repressed. This should not pass for “edgy” in San Francisco. In San Francisco, this is what we call “normal”. I will concede that Mark Morford is a good writer, but he has a mediocre-at-best sense of humor and amateur grasp of sarcasm, and he wouldn’t know irony if it bit him in the ass. On top of all that, Mark Morford is so proud of being “unapologetic”. Since when are apologies such a bad thing? There is a great article in this month’s ABA journal about how apologies are actually quite helpful in the legal world. Maybe such principles could be applied to other professions as well, such as politics, or in this case, journalism. Note that I began this post with an apology. This alone demonstrates that I’m a better person than Mark Morford.
I know at least one person reading my blog right now is a Mark Morford fan, and I’m sure I’ll get some backlash, but I really wish that the San Francisco liberal community could produce a “voice or our culture” that was a little funnier, that’s all. Wow, I am now officially using my blog to insult other another writer who is more successful than me. I wonder if Mark will see this post tomorrow when does his daily googling of his name. Zing!
But this post is not entitled “On Mark Morford”, it’s entitled “On Homosexuality”, so we need not speak of him anymore. I actually got the idea for this post the day my blog went online, when a friend of mine sent me the following gchat message: “dude, props on doing a blog, but that title is gayer than 8 dudes blowing 9 dudes (to quote patton oswalt).” I actually don’t know who Patton Oswalt is, but a quick Wikipedia search tells me that he is best known for his work on that brilliantly comedic Kevin James vehicle, King of Queens (by the way, that use of “brilliantly comedic” was sarcasm. Mark, I hope you’re taking notes). This quote got me thinking—would Patton Oswalt have the cajones to make the statement, “that’s blacker than 8 dudes eating 9 buckets of fried chicken” or “that’s more jewy than 8 dudes fighting over 9 quarters”? I doubt it. All three statements are offensive, and yet, as a society, we’re slightly more comfortable publicly insulting gays than we are Blacks, Jews, or most other groups (except maybe for Muslims and, to an equal extent but in a different way, women…but these are issues for other posts. Also, is it okay that I capitalize “Blacks”, “Jews”, and “Muslims” but not “women” or “gays”? The rules are constantly shifting and I can never keep up with them). As a side note, although I didn’t call my friend out by name, he’s probably reading this post, so let it be known that he is definitely not homophobic, and I apologize for insinuating that he was. I merely meant to illustrate that using “gay” as an insult has become such a part of our lexicon that we often do it among our friends without realizing that this is actually a bad thing.
More on that in a bit. Before I go on, I’ll let you know that as I’m writing this post I’m simultaneously doing internet research, and I’ve just learned that Patton Oswalt is actually quite the proponent of gay rights, as can be heard here. On top of that, judging from this one clip I might go as far as to say that Mr. Oswalt is actually quite funny (unlike a certain SFGate columnist who will go about unnamed).
But Patton Oswalt’s personal beliefs on the subject aren’t important right now. The point I’m trying to make here is that political correctness has not quite made it to homosexuality yet. And when I say “political correctness”, I say it as if it’s a good thing. I’m personally happy that “No Jews or Dogs” signs don’t exist anymore, and I actually prefer “Happy Holidays” cards to their more traditional “Merry Christmas” counterparts. Most of us try to avoid using the words “Black” or “Asian” or “Hispanic” or “Jewish” as insults. This is a good thing, and you can thank political correctness for it. Somehow, “gay” has not yet joined this club. I cannot speak for any or all gay people, but I feel like many of them would prefer if “gay” was not a commonly-accepted and tolerated insult, particularly among males. Using the word “gay” to describe something that one doesn’t like, or using it as an attack on another male’s manhood, is, for whatever reason, not chastised as much as throwing around terms that describe other groups. Take, for example, this classic scene:
Do gay people find humor in this scene? Interestingly enough, I’ve only talked it about it with one gay person, and he found it hilarious. Go figure, not everybody is as into political correctness as me, I suppose.
What about this one:
Is that funny? The idea behind the humor is that if you are so much of a loser that you spend all of your time playing video games, this is tantamount to being a homosexual, which, according to Southpark, is a very bad thing. There’s an extra layer of offensiveness added by using “fag”, which is a derogatory term, as opposed to just saying “you guys are gay.” Southpark later devoted an entire episode to explain their justification of using the word “fag”, claiming that the word evolved so that it no longer is restricted to describing gay people (and, in the U.K., cigarettes). But that’s bullshit. When somebody calls another person a “fag”, the underlying subconscious thought process is, “I don’t like you, you’re less of a man than me, gays are less of men than me, therefore, you are gay, and “fag” is a nasty word for somebody who is gay so that’s what I’m going to call you.” It is a testament to the wonder of the human mind that even the most cro-magnon-like males can make that kind of syllogism in nanoseconds.
Let’s focus on derogatory words for a moment, shall we? Question: why are we allowed to say “fag”, but not “n*gg*r” or “kyk*” or “sp*c” or “ch*nk”? Why has this word not yet made the switch to “f*g” (except in the U.K., when describing cigarettes)? The answer is the same as why we’re allowed to use “gay” as an insult in general, or why we’re allowed to prohibit two people of the same sex who are in love to get married. Because, as a society, we need people to look down upon. We need to have minority groups that we can marginalize so that we feel better about themselves. You’ve taken away our ability to insult racial and (some) religious minorities, but please, please let us maintain our right to be better than the gays! And when I say “we” and “our”, I do not include myself. I’m talking about conservative assholes. I don’t even mind the fact that they’re assholes. The word “asshole” has been used on more than one occasion to describe me (if you can believe it)—it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Or rather, it is necessarily a bad thing, I just don’t take it as an insult. If you called me a conservative, however, I would probably take it as an insult, because you’d be putting me in the same bucket as these folks:
Honestly, how the h-e-double hockey sticks are major media personalities, politicians (including potential presidential candidates), and other public figures allowed to say these things? Imagine if anybody ever said, “Judaism is harmful to not only to society, but more importantly, to the individuals who engage in that behavior,” or “there’s something wrong in this country when Hispanics can serve openly in the military”—would these people be allowed to keep their jobs? If you’re like me, watching that video really chapped your hide, but apparently there’s enough of a critical mass of conservative assholes in this country that those comments are “acceptable” enough for people to say them on national television with effective impunity.
One could say that these people have first amendment rights to make such statements. Personally, I think the first amendment is overrated. I would like it if people were uncomfortable publicly making disparaging comments about gays. It would only help our society if the same “PC police” who helped sharply reduce casual racism and anti-Semitism in America did the same to homophobia, Islamophobia, and sexism. A justice of the peace who doesn’t allow to people of the same gender to get married should receive the same negative treatment by the media and the public at large as one who refuses to grant marriage licenses to interracial couples. In short, I would like to see a time not only when homosexuality is accepted, but when people are scared to not accept it.
Hmm…in reading over this post, it appears to be full of apologies, political correctness, and sympathy. If only there was a derogatory term to describe somebody who employs such devices…