GURL PLEASE: Are We Fighting A Stereotype Or Perpetuating One?

I'd really like to start a movement of proper and stronger language being used in the gay community, and otherwise.

Bracelets by Alex And Ani & Heart Happy

Bracelets by Alex And Ani & Heart Happy

Gurl, She, Sister, etc are all things that I totally get as playful and fun, but I feel as if they’re detracting away from our community being taken seriously, and furthermore makes outsiders think these are appropriate things to say to us.

I cannot tell you the amount of times I've had a girl, whom I just met, call me gurl, or think that just because I'm gay means that I'm instantly fabulous. I appreciate the compliment, but you've just met me, and to be honest, I'm not that fabulous.

It’s hard to not get caught up in the “fun” of using these words when you’re with specific friends that throw these words around in spirited manners, but I’m sure if we were to carefully consider what we’re trying to truly say, these words wouldn’t hit the truest sense of what we’re trying to communicate.


Furthermore, while we are on the topic of language, why is it that we (along with a lot of the younger generation) feel the need to adopt slang that perpetuates a divide? I get that lewk, werk, kiki and countless other words are fun, and essentially help create some form of community that feels more “ours,” but I think this is furthering a stereotype and a stigma that doesn’t actually represent the smart, ambitious and successful community of men that make up our diverse and intelligent brotherhood. 

I’m not looking to be a Debbie Downer, or take away from what makes our community special, unique and different. I get that we have a full spectrum of men that make up our rainbow flag, and that we should be proud of who we are individually and as a collective.

What I’m saying is that we need to really look at how powerful language is. It’s not only about the obvious derogatory words like faggot, but rather a full range of speech that we need to be mindful of when looking to accurately represent ourselves.

We’re not sisters. Sisters are two women that are born from the same mother or father. We aren’t even brothers because technically we all aren’t born from the same parents, but what we are, and should strive to be, is a group of powerful, successful and amazing men.

NOTE:  In reaction to the above blog piece I had written a few weeks ago, and one I've already addressed, I present this:

I'd like everyone to consider what is actually being said, which is to be mindful.

There have been a lot of assumptions being made about this piece, and as with anything anyone puts out there a lot of people have jumped at the chance to argue something, which I say good. I say get angry, get pissed off, use your voice because too many people are doing nothing, which is far more dangerous than anything else. This is the point of anything I put out there. So many gay men want to speak about the LGBTQ community as if they fully understand being anything other than a gay man. I have worked in gay bars, had amazing gay mentors for a long portion of my life, and have looked to find my faults, question my own thoughts, and throughout it all put it out there for critique, which a lot of other people have been too afraid to attempt. We filter ourselves to fit what large groups want us to say, even amongst subcultures. We jump with the mob because it's easier than challenging what might be thought otherwise.

I'm excited to have this conversation. I'm excited to start a dialogue. I'm excited for people who normally don't read what I have to say to find my OWN personal outlet for my OWN thoughts, feelings and questions.

A lot of the reactions to this only look to put down and further exclude, which is again what bothers me so much about a large portion of our community. Differing opinions are important and will arise.

As to some of the points that have arisen:

1. I'm saying I'm a man that likes men. Men of all different races, ages and levels of fluidity. A word I commonly use when speaking to anyone in real life. I've dated a full spectrum of men, and constantly look to find the beauty in all people. My friend circle includes people of all different backgrounds, ages, races and professions. 
2. There are a lot of implied statements being made with this piece. I have long held onto the belief that there is nothing wrong with being feminine. I think it's a beautiful thing to watch women and femininity become something of equal to what their counterparts have deemed weak due to an oppression of the white straight male. 
3. I have also spoken about the fact that I am not someone who identifies or likes the expression masc. Again I am openly and proudly gay. You, and many people who jumped to write their two cents, personally know me, and know I am by no means some macho asshole. I have never and will never identify with the word "masculine" 100% because that would mean I would have to oppress all the other sides to my eccentric personality. I love sensitivity and through all of my writing look to convey a softness that is deemed more "feminine."
4. The LGBT code speak that has been brought up is language we have stolen from the African American community. Insert the incredible and important documentary Paris is Burning here. This language is not something we created, nor is it something that holds our community together. To address this issue one step further, there is a huge divide racially when it comes to the gay community. While I can't speak from my own personal knowledge, I would assume, as many people have done with my piece, that a lot of the people writing their own reactions are the same people who sit on apps like Grindr with profiles that are beyond exclusive, saying "no blacks or Asians or Fems," and wouldn't even consider swiping right to someone who doesn't look "masc" enough to them. This to me is far more damaging than sharing an opinion that pushes people to consider language. 
5. The images that are used in conjunction with these pieces are fully meant to attract attention, and get more people reading what I have to say. Unfortunately without these images many people would glaze over the words I have to write. Catchy titles and covers are used to attract readers. This is not news.

Ultimately, I will never claim to be the end all be all voice, or opinion, for a community I'm proud to be a part of. I simply am honored to be one of many.

What I will leave everyone with is the fact that a large portion of my college education from NYU, an incredible, liberal, and diverse university, which I paid for myself and worked very hard to get into, was focused on gender and sexuality studies. My B.S. is in communication, culture and media. I have educated myself through first hand accounts of what it was like to be gay in the past through amazing men like David Mixner and heads of companies.

I have written countless other pieces and filmed YouTube videos (all of which are done on my own spare time for no compensation) to help men and women of all ages help understand themselves better, understand that being different is not only ok, but beyond important, and that there are different ways to be gay.

Lastly for anyone who questions my integrity, or intentions with this piece I ask you to watch my coming out video on YouTube, or read my open coming out letter, and see if what is being assumed holds true.

http://www.artisanandking.com/…/…/10/11/my-coming-out-story…

ADDITIONAL NOTE: As this piece picks up more and more attention, I felt the need to share this Facebook post, which I wrote in response to what a lot of people had to say after reading this controversial piece:

This piece, like all my other pieces, is my personal opinion, and I only speak for myself, a gay man. By no means am I ever looking to put anyone down, or say that one person is more right or wrong than another.  If you read any of my other written pieces, watch my youtube videos, or know me in real life, you know that I am a fan of diversity, being yourself and living your truth.

I champion different, and am PROUDLY a member of the LGBTQ community.

I'm simply using my platform to spark thoughts and create conversation. I'm also very aware that not everyone will agree with what I have to say. However, if you do disagree with me then please support your opinion with something other than mean comments. I 'm very aware that this piece doesn't address many points, as that would require writing a book, which is something I have long planned on doing.

If something I have written really does bother you than I challenge you to write your own piece, and really consider where your opinion is coming from. Keep the dialogue moving in a constructive manner.

I'm proud of the messages I have put out, and will always try to be a positive role model in whatever way I can for ALL people.

Always With Love,

Barrett

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Posted on February 10, 2016 .