Walking down the street often takes a lot out of me. Sometimes, the conversations I overhear are enough to make me cringe and want to run away to the dark safety of my bed and maybe a box of cookies.
Too often, leaving my house and interacting with society means being subjected to subtle verbal cues that the speaker in question does not, in fact, view me (or anyone else who isn’t a heterosexual cisgender white male) as a fully functioning human being capable of complex thoughts.
My friends and I recently met a few guys at the bar and went back to their place for more drinks. When we heard them routinely referring to each other as “f*****s,” we asked them to kindly stop demeaning each other’s masculinity by using words that have historically been used to justify discrimination. Their reply was standard:
“Aw, we don’t really mean it though. I swear I don’t have a problem with gay people, it doesn’t affect me at all. I don’t care if someone’s gay.”
This response makes me fume. No matter how much people want to deny it, words are powerful and have real meaning. When people use “f*****s” as an insult and insist they “don’t really mean anything” by it, they’re attempting to rid themselves of responsibility by denying years and years of oppression and hate crimes.