Yeah, I know. I’m starting to feel like Peter Tatchell here, spotting it everywhere, as though it’s not just the economy that’s going into recession, but people’s attitudes. Anyway, this happened a bit earlier today whilst I was sat outside on my lunch break.
Group of students sat along the bench from me on campus, one of them talked about going out in gay clubs, referring to one that was full of “b***y boys”. Her friends tried to shush her. Then later, as she got up, I said: “Excuse me, but next time you consider using “b***y boy” to refer to a gay man, why don’t you try Googling “Jamaica” and “homophobia” first.” To which she responded “Well I’m gay, so what?” I remarked that the fact she was gay made it worse. She shrugged her shoulders (having talked loudly and incessantly for most of the preceding hour, I’d gathered she wasn’t the sort of person to consider the finer feelings of others) and stomped off. As a parting shot, I remarked to her friends that they should explain to her that, regardless of her sexual orientation, she shouldn’t be perpetuating hateful language.
Gah. Honestly. I mean, I know that “queer” has been reclaimed, but that was part of the ongoing struggle to assert identities and rights. Using the gay-bashing language of the Jamaican dancehalls smacks of ignorance or, if used knowingly, a crass attempt at irony.
What do you think? Was I over the top or totally justified?
In the meantime, the misguided young lesbian in question could perhaps do with a visit to Paul Harfleet’s website:
In this ongoing project, Harfleet plants beautiful flowers at the sites of homophobic assaults, be they physical and/or verbal (and, in some cases, fatal). Sometimes the most angry acts of defiance are also the most beautiful, a lesson I think many of us have forgotten.