My Language BM2
“Your such a fag just buy the damn shirt!”
“Ehh but it doesn’t fit me, the v-necks too low.”
“Fine you’re a picky princess, but at least buy the yellow one then.”
“Oh come on honey you look just fine.”
As I hang clothes, I can hear the playful loud high-pitched voices of what I assume to be two gay guys shopping. They look to be my age, maybe sixteen and seventeen, possibly on a date. Quietly I start to ease drop on what they’re saying and buying and while judging them in my mind. One slips on a yellow cardigan, in my mind I want to join them and say, “Oh no honey, that is not for you,” but I quietly watch behind two racks of shirts in slight discomfort because they don’t see how bad it looks.
“Nah this isn’t for me either, come on lets go out to dinner”
The two take a couple of other shirts downstairs to the counter and leave behind the yellow fabric on the floor. I walk over and pick it up looking at it, then I place it on a hanger on the rack.
As I was sitting on the train on my way home later that night, I thought about the two guys. The idea of two gay guys out in public not attempting to hide their sexuality perplexes me. Having the courage to be loud and proud about ones sexuality is something I always think about but never have the will to do. I suppose I’m scared that others would judge me like I did, not just on their choice of clothing but the way they speak.
I could never see myself as being flamboyant enough to call another by princess or honey. It’s just something that bothers me. In school I hear my friends call people gay or a flame because we assume their gay, and although they are my friends, I can’t allow myself to speak as openly as those two gay teens did for the fear of being judged. I watch what I say so that my language won’t be recognized as “gay language”. Although there are some parts I’m good at hiding, there are others that are much harder. It’s a stereotype that gay men are very dramatic; this is something that I have difficulty hiding. Sometimes I don’t even notice it, but when I do, I become embarrassed. In my mind being quiet, and cool is straighter and is more likely to be accepted.
Finally in their conversation what really made me think of was the one word that I don’t say, fag. When I hear someone that I don’t categorize as gay say it, I feel animosity towards him or her. I feel that’s its not their word to say, and I do take it personally. I feel the need to respond and defend myself, but I don’t. I restrict my language to hide what people would judge me on. However my opinion changes when I hear a gay person say it. I feel respect toward him/her when I see that they are proud of who they are. Similar to how African Americans use nigger, and refer to it as their word, fag is our word. When I say it, it changes how I feel. It is a medium through which I release my anger. In my language that word is forbidden because it hurts. It hurts me to hear it because it’s a sign of disrespect to me. When I speak to them there language doesn’t respect me so my language won’t respect them.
I am not ashamed of my sexuality, but I am not confident. Desperately I want to be who I am to the world and not have to hide the gay part of me. Mike Rose described how I want to feel in I Just Wanna be Average by writing ,“Rely on your own good sense. Fuck this bullshit, bullshit, of course is everything you- and the others- fear is beyond you”. I feel like this quote gives me strength because it reminds me to not care about anyone else’s opinion. If someone or a friend doesn’t like me because I’m gay, I seem gay, or because I sound gay, that is not my fault. What they believe is beyond me and it is not my duty to change their minds. My good sense tells me to be who I am, so that is what I aspire to be. Although I am still hiding part of myself right now I am slowly making my way to freedom. The quote also mentions others, meaning more than one, in my case, other gay people. This quote aspires me to help others struggling with their sexualities. It is not my job to change the minds of those who do not agree. Want I can do however is to use my language and my words to help strengthen others, so that they can be proud of who they are.
The language I speak is the language I use to try to please everyone, to seem natural and what society wants. However I use it to hide my true self, my true language would speak openly without fear of being accepted. When I speak “straight.” I’m speaking a language that pleases me but is not free of the fear of being accepted. One day I aim to be open and speak my own language. Not the language of others.