Is something I have never and will never say.
In fact I’ve often said the opposite many a time, “I LOVE being gay!” (Seriously, check out the link.)
After one of my blog posts, GURL PLEASE, recently made quite the stir across a small part of the Internet, I found myself feeling the need to defend and explain myself. People I know and people I have never met questioned my integrity, my mission, and my goals.
I suppose some readers felt a personal connection to the piece, which is the ultimate goal for any writer. I understand how emotions run high, especially when someone says something you disagree with.
I touched on something sensitive. I hit upon something very deep and intimate that many of us in the gay community have had to deal with, which is being made to feel different, less than or ostracized.
I know that feeling well. I understand why people were so angry.
I literally was bullied every day of my adolescence because I wasn’t who other people thought I should be.
I do take offense when someone I don’t know calls me things like faggot, gurl, or she in any context because I grew up being made to feel like I didn’t deserve to live because I was more flamboyant than the other boys. I was different, not the norm, not masculine enough for society.
I get the importance people see in expressions like “gurl”, “she” and “her”.
What I don’t get is how some members of my own community decided to bully me like I was 12 and we were in elementary school. (See why we are so competitive).
I’m all for constructive conversations; however, a majority of the responses I received simply looked to put me down, obstinately dismiss any differing point of view and outright discontinue the conversation, and because of that the people who did have intelligent, thoughtful and productive things to say were lost in the fire.
I've literally written about these problems before, "The Top 10 Reasons Why The Gay Community Is So Competitive," but this piece wasn't as controversial, so it wasn't shared as much, thus getting the same kind of attention.
My position was not, and has never been, that anyone was less than, that anyone should stop completely being who they are, or that anyone should change who they are in order to fit in better. If anyone felt as if I had, then for that, I truly am sorry, this was never the goal.
I posed a question, and simply suggested that we should be mindful of the language we use and the impact it has.
I made a vital error, and forgot that not everyone who reads something I write will have read everything else I have written, met me in person, or watched my YouTube videos. Due to this, my intentions were left to be interpreted in many different ways (a common occurrence when putting your opinion out there), which is something I fully understand and accept.
In return, I was picked apart about everything: what I wrote, what I look like, how I choose to get my messages out there, how I act, etc.
Someone I know, someone I let cry on my shoulder during our first encounter, even went on to call me out for being “super effeminate.” Something that would’ve hurt me once a long time ago, and I’m sure was meant to, but no longer oppresses me.
I’ve grown to learn that being effeminate, or feminine for that matter, doesn’t mean you are less than, bad, or unworthy of love and respect. Additionally, being effeminate and not wanting to use specific language aren’t the same thing. Saying “gurl” and “she” doesn’t make you effeminate, and being effeminate doesn’t necessarily mean you say “gurl” and “she.”
To be told that I “should kill myself,” have mocking websites made about me, and be subjected to various other down right mean reactions was hurtful because I am sensitive. I am a person. I am gay too.
This misdirected anger is the type of thing I was trying to explain, trying to avoid, trying to change. These words are still used to throw shade (if you will) at one another, and until they are completely devoid of their negative connotations do so.
I mean just look at some of the comments on GURL PLEASE.
I want to make it abundantly clear that these words do cause damage, harm, and hurt to people still figuring themselves out. We throw these words around playfully, but we also throw these words around in less than friendly contexts, which again perpetuates the idea that it’s ok for those outside of our community to do the same.
The main issue I see with this type of language is when straight girls and guys, use these words thinking it’s “cute,” but don’t realize it’s inappropriate to just call any gay man “gurl.” Yes, it’s different within the confines of our own community, and it isn’t our job to police language, but where do the lines get crossed?
I don’t find it cute when Becky calls me “gurl” after just meeting me. This doesn’t mean I am self-loathing, gay-hating, or internally-homophobic. What it does mean is that I want Becky to call me Barrett.
I wish that bathrooms weren’t marked for gender, that gender-specific pronouns didn’t exist at all, and that yes, we could all just get along. This simply isn’t the world we live in, yet.
I know that not everyone will agree with me, that I am unable to make everyone happy, and that some people are not going to understand everything I’m trying to say. I also know that this is ok, and a good thing.
I won’t stop voicing my opinion because a few people made more noise than others.
I guess all there is left to say is, “I want pink hair.”
I want pink hair like the little boy I saw on the subway, who was riding with his mom, who was cool enough to let her son dye his hair pink. I want pink hair like the little boy on the subway who has the ability to go to school, and not be bullied because he picked a color he liked to dye his hair. I want pink hair like the little boy on the subway, who was just being himself.
I would’ve died to be nine-years-old with pink hair. Pink was my favorite color, but because I lived in a conservative suburb, pink meant gay, and gay wasn’t ok. I had parents that let me be myself, but the outside world wasn’t and still isn’t always as friendly. I was the kid that brought his Barbies to school, played with the girls, and yes, loved all things pink.
When I see that little boy on the subway I know times are changing, and for nine-year-old me, and every other little boy out there who was and is too afraid to have pink hair I walked right up to him, and said, “I like your hair, it’s very cool,” and with a smile to his mom, who mouthed thank you, went about my day knowing that we will all be ok.
I didn’t need to say, “Gurl, I like your hair,” or “Bro, cool hair.” I just said, “I like your hair.”
Whether you agree with me, or disagree with me is up to you, but no matter what your opinion is, you should always let love, kindness, and positivity guide you in the journey that is life. We all have growing to do, and things to learn. Hate doesn't provoke change, and meanness doesn't make people want to listen. The next time someone pushes your buttons, stop, breathe, and think, how do I want to move forwards?