Nov 20, 2013

Response to A Self Proclaimed Cock Sucking Fag


If you haven't read it, click here and read.

In response to the Alec Baldwin's offensive and homophobic, Huffington Post's Gay Voices writer Noah Michelson wrote the article "A Few Words From a Real, Live Cocksucking Fag."

He also did an interview with Huffington Post Live in which he reiterated his feelings about Baldwin's use of the offensive language and his handling of the situation. Near the end of the video, Michelson says

"just like I'd never use the N word as a white person. If you're a black person and you want to use that, that's your word, but if it doesn't belong to
you, you don't get to use it. And I don't care how many gay friends you have, I don't care how many gay family members you have... that's not a word you get to use."

And this is where I have a problem. 

Whether it's the "F" word, or the "N" word, who is any person to tell any other person what language they can and cannot use? 

In the video Michelson states that because he was held down in showers, bullied, tormented, and ridiculed, he has the right to use the word "fag" or "faggot" in jest with his gay friends. The same sentiments are echoed in his writing with the following points:

1. If you are a straight person, you do not get to use the word "fag." Ever. You just don't. Even if all your friends are gay and everyone in your family is gay and they all say they're fine with it (more on this below), it's still not OK. Sorry. Choose another insult.

2. If, for some reason, you do use "fag," you don't get to then insist, as rapper Tyler the Creator recently did, that "it's just another word that has no meaning." For millions of gay men, that word is only charged with meaning: There's a surge of crackling, bright-blue electricity sprinting down the corridor between our heads and our hearts whenever we hear or see it. It's the word we hear just before a fist meets our eye socket or a bottle is brought down upon our skull. It's the word that has told us we are dangerous and filthy and evil. It's the word that has led too many of us to our ends (real or imagined) too soon.

4. As a fag, I do get to use that word. And so do my faggot friends if they should choose to do so (and, it should be noted, many of them don't). It stitches us together with a shared history of pain and violence and strength and resilience, and if and when we choose to reclaim and use it to define ourselves, it is ours to do with it as we please. We have earned that right.

I become confused because I don't understand how we go from the latter part of point 2 to point 4. As I was reading these excerpts, I was reminded of the nigger vs. nigga argument, and thought that this was where Michelson was going. The problem with comparing this argument to the "nigga" debate is that there aren't two different words. The word is "faggot", "fag" for short. 

Even in the black community, if a black person says "y'all ain't nothin but a bunch of niggers" that could very well be received as insulting, as opposed to "y'all ain't nothin but a bunch of niggas." The latter would be received with laughter and a hearty elbow jab while the former would be followed by dead silence. And it is because of the lack of clear transformation here with the word "faggot/fag" that I believe I am confused by this "I get to say it, you don't" mantra, and why alarms start going off in my head when he likens the "F word" situation to the "N word" situation. 

Michelson has no "other" word, yet he insists on telling heterosexual people that, no matter what, they aren't allowed to use said word. He gives us point 2 (above) but insists that it's alright to use the word anyway (so long as you are homosexual) and then likens it to the "N word" debate. 

Not the same thing Noah. 

Many people involved in both arguments (F word/N word) take the stance that offensive words and slurs, like the ones used in this discussion, have no place in civilized vocabulary. These people believe that perpetuating the use of these words is negative on the psyche and that only negativity can come from it. Others, like Michelson, maintain the "I earned it so it's mine and you can't use it... no matter what" position.

I disagree with both stances because in both situations, there may "outsiders" who have experienced the struggles and hardships for simply being associated with the persecuted group. What about your average non-black that grew up in the majority black school where the struggle was real for everyone? What about the non-black who, save for the color of his skin, is a thread in the fabric of the community in which he was raised?

On the flip side of that, what about the self hating gay that was ridiculed growing up, acknowledges that he is gay but classifies himself as a strict masculine top, and sees gay turning cartwheels down Fifth Avenue and utters "fags"...? 

My stance: it's all about context. But Noah, while we can both agree that Baldwin wasn't trying to be endearing to the homosexual community with his outburst, you can't make such mandates. It's exclusive and alienates people, and that's not what equality is all about. 





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