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Author Topic: Stuff that I didn't say... (Homophobia Trigger Warning)
MusicNerd
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(HOMOPHOBIA TRIGGER WARNING)

I guess I just need to get this off of my chest, but I wanted to talk about how I didn't say retorts to sexist/homophobic things like I normally do. I feel guilty and pissed off at myself about it, because I tend to consider myself a strong, opinionated woman and I’ve been an outspoken person on multiple occasions before when it came to scenarios like the one listed below.

So, two things happened around the same time today; I don't know if I didn't speak up because I was so tired and it was late at night, or if it was because the guy who was saying these things is someone I have a crush on (I'm pretty sure he likes me back since he's always giving me compliments, but anyway, let's call him Evan), or because I was in shock, or all of the above. At one point, Evan was looking up a profile of one of his friends (just to see what she was up to, I guess) and I was with a few of my other friends in his room, one of his friends (let's call him Tony) said, "Look at her boobs hanging out! She looks half-slutty." Then, Evan said, "Well, she's a cool person, though... But yeah she is a bit slutty…" And his voice kinda trailed off awkwardly as if he was torn between her being a “cool person” and being “slutty”. I was in shock, because I have such a visceral internal reaction to words like "slut" and "ho" and I didn't say anything probably for some of/a combination of the reasons listed above. A little later on, Evan said, "That's so gay" about something and I'm pretty sure either he or Tony used the word "faggot" to say something, but I was just sitting there in shock. I guess I was so shocked because the high school I came from was so absolutely against using homophobic phrases like this, and we even had posters like this one hanging around the school to show how much we were against sayings like those; though I've spoken out against other people saying things like this outside of my school before. I'm just wondering why this time is different?

I feel so guilty about it now, because as a bisexual woman, even though I didn't say anything, normally I speak out about these sorts of things (especially if I find them offensive) and I didn't say anything this time. It went by really quickly and we'd just move on to another random topic. I could just kick myself! I feel even guiltier because I'm just ashamed that I let something like a crush and other ridiculous reasons like being exhausted get in the way. I hope that a situation like this will rise again with them so that I can say something like, "So it's attracted to something of the same sex?" or "I’m not cool with words like ‘faggot’ or 'that's so gay'. Could you not use them?” like I normally do. It just seems pretty impractical to bring it up out-of-the-blue. I know that I’m painting these people in a negative light, and they most definitely did say some pretty crappy things (there's no denying that), but I don’t think they intentionally meant to hurt me since they've been so nice to me in every other way and we've beein hanging out a lot together; I haven’t come out to them in particular, so they’re probably not even aware of my bisexuality. I wish I'd said something, like one of those replies I listed, at the time.

Would randomly bringing it up work if they don’t say things like this around me again, or should I just wait until the opportunity arises again and keep hanging out with them in the meantime? Any and all responses would be greatly appreciated!

[ 08-03-2012, 02:43 AM: Message edited by: MusicNerd ]

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"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

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copper86
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Hi, MusicNerd!

I'm so sorry that this has happened. You know, you are definitely not alone when it comes to these things. The very same thing happens sometimes with my partner and I. He likes saying, "that's gay" sometimes; and I usually take offense to those kinds of statements, because 1) I have close friends who are homosexual, 2) I support homosexuality, and 3) it's like someone is associating "being gay" with a negative connotation (since usually, when people around me say "that's gay," it's in relation to something that happened that they do not like). But with my partner, I never say something like, "hey, please don't use that kind of language around me." and it's because I really like him and do not want to start a confrontation. It isn't just because I like him, though - I honestly do not like confrontation - but that doesn't mean that I don't get offended when these things happen. I also want you to know that, even though you (and I) feel guilty because our feelings for these people get in the way of us being assertive, it's very common and it's also human (we don't want them mad at us, we want their acceptance). Again, I'm not saying that we shouldn't speak up (since we both want to) - just that your situation isn't anything bad to be reflected on you: it's entirely natural to want people to like us and to not want an argument to spill out.

I understand how guilty you must feel, and I think that if you really feel upset about it, you can maybe do one of two things. If they ever say something like that again, you can tell them in a nice way - as you put above - that you find those remarks to be offensive. Or, you can randomly say to them one day, "This new friend of mine used the term 'that's gay' around me, and I got really upset because of it." Maybe they would catch on that those are the kind of things you do not enjoy hearing and will be more considerate next time.

I don't think these people are negative in any way at all - sometimes people (myself included!) say stuff that they don't know is offensive or hurtful. Often, if people are made aware of that, they will make an effort to stop saying it. Also, this is your first time in college, you're tired, you want to make new friends and have smooth relationships and transitions... So not only do I understand exactly what you did, I would have probably done the same thing. That is not to say I like those words... But you know what I mean. [Smile]

Did you meet these guys your first week there? I'd love to hear more about your crush - but only if you want to talk about him! [Smile] Try not to beat yourself up over what happened, either. You already have some ideas on how to handle this next time, so think of that next time as making up for this time, if you like. [Smile]

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"I do the best that I can. I'm just what I am." - Rush (Best I Can)

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MusicNerd
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Copper, how do you always know just the right things to say? *hugs*

Maybe I will try that casual, "Hey, someone was saying 'that's so gay' to me today and I thought that was just so unnecessary" thing or something, like that. Actualy, in my Biology class today, this guy sitting next to me (let's call him John) found out that my name (which is not an "unusual" name in the U.S.) is spelled in a unique way. So, when I explained to him why it was spelled that way, he went, "That's so gay!" and I replied, "Uh, can you not say things like that?" Before I could say, "I find things like that to be offensive," he cut me off and said, "No, no, no. It's just that I think your name's very interesting." Then he went on to talk about how someone he knows spells her uncommon name in an unusual way. It made me feel better to at least say something today, you know? [Smile]

Yeah, I too probably say things that I don't even realize are offensive or weren't intended to be taken that way. Thanks for understanding where I was coming from, I thought I was just being ridiculous! The whole "we're human" thing really resonated with me, so thank you for that.

Yes, I met them the first week I came here. Evan (my crush) in my opinion is really, really attractive and funny. [Smile] He's shorter than me (and he's quite thin), but he has the most gorgeous eyes, cute freckles all over his face and a really great smile. One of my temporary roommates (let's call her Angie) was describing someone who sounded like him to a friend of hers on the phone. She's about two inches shorter than me (but she's still tall) and she was like, "I thought I found someone really cute today, and then he stood up and I was like, 'Nevermind'!" Personally, I don't care that he's shorter than me and he doesn't seem to care that I'm taller than him. [Smile] Supposedly, his ex-girlfriend was a model (that's a little intimidating! I've been told that I should model, but being told that you should be a model and actually being one are two totally different things), so I guess he has a thing for tall women?

He's given me compliments pretty much everyday. One time in English class, I was reading a passage out loud for the class, and he told me later that he absolutely loves my speaking voice and that he wanted to clap when I was finished (a few of my other friends have said this, too. hahaha! [Big Grin] ). He was like, "You have the voice of an angel!" and he jokes about me having to one day read him a bedtime story if/when my friends decide to have a sleepover, 'cause he thinks my voice is "soothing". When he found out that I could sing, he was like, "If I'm really nice to you, could you sing me a song one day?" He's pretty hilarious. XD Evan's also complimented me on my short hair (which looks a little longer than this haircut now, and it doesn't have any sort of part). He's admitted to "facebook stalking" me in order to see what my hair looked like in the past. He said, "I really like your hair now. I mean, I think you looked pretty when you had long hair too, but I really like the way it looks now." I was just thinking, Who is this kid that so bluntly compliments me and also has an awesome sense of humor?; but all I really said out loud was, "Aww, thanks!" lol! And then he kept asking me questions about it.

I'll try not to beat myself up so much about it, Copper. Thanks so much again for your input! [Smile]

[ 08-03-2012, 04:34 PM: Message edited by: MusicNerd ]

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"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

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copper86
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*Hugs!* I'm so happy that you were able to say something in Biology class (and good for you for taking college-level Biology! I have friends in Biology and Chemistry [and Bio-chem, which terrifies me!] courses, and I have a ton of respect for science students). I think choosing to say something or not depends on the situation too and not just the people. When you think about it, due to class size and the fact that these students can be mere acquaintances or not involved in your life at all, being a bit more assertive than you would with a crush (someone you want to accept you and someone you want to be easygoing and fun with) makes a lot of sense. Either way, I am glad you said something. I think some people don't even know that "that's gay," or terms like that, are quite offensive. They're used to saying them so much that they probably don't even know what it means anymore. I don't know about the men you know, but a lot of the guys I know are almost homophobic. I think our culture is so over-fed by heterosexual stuff that anything different literally scares people.

Evan sounds like a great guy! Eyes really get me too on guys; or anyone I'm meeting, really. If they have nice eyes, I'm drawn to them! I'm not too good at eye contact, though; so I also notice other features. Hair is a HUGE factor for me (which is again ironic, since I love long hair and my partner has short hair). And I really think height shouldn't have a bearing when it comes to making decisions about who you date - so kudos to you! I think you're right that guys like taller women; and models are normally tall, right? His ex-girlfriend was a model? If he's saying all kinds of nice things about your hair and giving you compliments left and right, I think you should NOT be intimidated by that fact. And you know, models have their own sets of flaws and insecurities (and that's not just something I tell myself when I feel low about myself! [Wink] ). They're air-brushed in magazines and their faces get distorted; and honestly, I'd rather order a big poutine once in a while and not think, "Oh, crap, I can't eat this - I have to model tomorrow!" [Wink]

Evan saying you have a voice of an angel to me sounds like a HUGE compliment. I'd be putty in someone's hands if they said those kinds of things! Lol. I don't know, some compliments are just so lovely that you feel like you can melt when you receive them... And it sounds like he really enjoys talking with you and being around you in general! In my own opinion, it sounds like he's flirting with you! By the way, your hairstyle looks so cool! When did you get it cut like that?

I don't mean to pry, but is this guy in the same residence area as you? I miss university so much! Lol. Mine was a building with dorm rooms. Some were a two-person bedroom with a linking bathroom and then two other people in another room sharing that bathroom; some were just a two-person dorm room; and some floors had single rooms with linked bathrooms or just single rooms in general. I had a double room and then a single room with a linked bathroom. I loved having my own room! You must enjoy having your own room, too! And you can use your living room space for hanging out, so it's not like you have to be alone if you don't want to be! It sounds like you're having a blast - hooray!

Please try to not beat yourself up over it! I still think what happened was just a very human thing and a natural tendency that we all do at some time or another. [Smile]

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"I do the best that I can. I'm just what I am." - Rush (Best I Can)

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MusicNerd
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I saw a picture of his ex on Facebook (at least I'm fairly certain it was her) and she's very, very skinny. She makes me look fat (and I wear small-sized clothing). But you're right, she probably has insecurities too just like all of us. I never thought about that, "Models have their own sets of flaws and insecurities". That makes sense, since they're human, too. [Smile] I had to Google what "poutine" was. lol It looks absolutely delicious! [Big Grin]

On Friday, I was hanging out with Tony and Evan and all of my other friends and at one point when just Tony and I were talking he said the word "faggot" again. I then said, "I'm not comfortable with words like that". He kinda played it off as a joke and then I said, "But really, I am uncomfortable with words like that", and then he said, "Oh, okay" and it was all good. [Smile]

Yesterday and today, I noticed that Evan seems to give compliments to different girls; not in a creepy kind of way, but in a genuine nice guy kind of way. For example, he commented on how he noticed that one of my friends' eyeshadow matched her earrings really nicely or how another girl has "the prettiest eyes" or nice things like that, you know? I'm thinking that the throwing of compliments is kinda just part of his nature and not really anything to do with liking me. I mean, he was fake-fighting with his friend Tony about how he wanted to sit next to me today, and he's invited me to come study with him before, and he randomly asked my friend for my number the other day, but I feel like I'm pretty much viewed as a friend to him as opposed to a mutual crush. It's not that I mind being his friend, it's just that I wouldn't exactly mind if he felt the same way about me, you know? I just can't figure this guy out at all!

You remember how I read people, right? Well, to me he comes off as possibly being an in-the-closet bi/gay guy (even though he seemed shocked/offended when one of my friends told him that she thought he was gay), and so it's really confusing to me when he's said homophobic stuff like "That's so gay" in the past but also has commented on how he thinks that some male actor is hot. I do know straight people who find people of the same sex attractive sometimes and admit it (so it's possible that that's what's going on since I think that sexuality's a lot more fluid than we as a society give it credit for) or maybe he's questioning his sexuality and says homophobic things in order to smother his curiosity (I've seen people do that before), or maybe he just wants to be labeled as straight. Who knows?

[ 08-05-2012, 08:30 PM: Message edited by: MusicNerd ]

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"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

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WesLuck
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Well, all the best with your studies! [Smile]

-hugs for MusicNerd-

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MusicNerd
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Thanks, WesLuck! *returns hug* [Smile]

Oh, and Copper, I forgot to add in my last post that I sent out earlier today, that I'm definitely working on not beating myself up over things I didn't say.

[ 08-05-2012, 09:58 PM: Message edited by: MusicNerd ]

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"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

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copper86
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MusicNerd! I've been thinking about you - how are you doing? How's college life?

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"I do the best that I can. I'm just what I am." - Rush (Best I Can)

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MusicNerd
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Hey! Aww, thanks Copper! I've been good. I have a few tests coming up this week, so hopefully I do well on them! Evan and I still hang out and Casey is still friendly to me whenever I see her. I just found out from Evan today that he's only one inch shorter than me (not as big of a height difference as I thought); I guess I thought he was much shorter because he's so thin. He was telling me more flattering things about my voice today (but like I mentioned in the post right above WesLuck's, it seems like throwing compliments to people is just part of his nature) and he told me how he wants to be my height. lol [Smile]

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"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

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copper86
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Hey! I remember tests and studying all too well... Good luck! I'm sure you'll do great! What subjects are they in? I'll be thinking of you!

Evan sounds like such a sweet guy, and Casey sounds so nice! You must see them on a fairly regular basis, right? Maybe you could suggest a casual hang-out with them - coffee or studying togethr or doing homework together (which is a casual and common thing for college students to ask of one another) - what do you think about that? It sounds like Evan likes a lot of things about you, from your voice to your height!! [Big Grin]

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"I do the best that I can. I'm just what I am." - Rush (Best I Can)

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MusicNerd
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I finished an essay, and now I have two math tests and a bio test. [Frown] I do see Evan and Casey on a regular basis, because I'm in a small early summer program at my college, and there's only a small portion of our class here.

Evan invited me to his room to hang out and do homework/goof off together with some of our friends last week; actually, today I invited myself over and I was hanging out with him and goofing off/working with him and we also walked back to our dorm house together before that and talked (yes we're in the same house temporarily, because this is a summer program for only a very small portion of our class, but Evan and I are not going to be living in the same building together when the actual school year starts). I felt like there were some awkward pauses in our conversation during the walk, but yet it was still good.

At one point while I was in his room, I was singing to myself and he came in and asked me how I didn’t put myself to sleep with my voice. He was all, “If I had your voice, I’d be instantly asleep. I don't mean that in a bad way. I mean, it's just so pretty, that I don't see how you don't fall asleep to your own voice."

I don't know if he so much likes my height or if he just likes the idea of being my height; I'm thinking that it's more the latter idea. He was joking around a bit yesterday about how he thinks my hugs with him are "fake" or "awkward", but that he thinks that they seem a little awkward because I'm taller than him (I think that awkwardness is more on his part though). He called my height weird and then I jokingly said, "What, are you jealous of the fact that I'm taller than you?" And then he was like, "YESSSS~! I just wanna be your height!!" Then I responded, "You know, I'm only 1 inch taller than you. That's not a huge height difference." He replied, "Yeah, I know, but I still wanna be your height," and then he made a pretend sad face. I told him, “Well, you’re like the average height for a guy in this country,” and he was like, “No, that’s your height”. Then I told him that I’ve heard that his height was also the average, too (not that it even matters, anyway).

So, from what I’ve gathered, I think he’s pretty uncomfortable with the fact that I’m taller than him (even by just a mere inch!); yet, he seems to find other things about me attractive (hair, voice, etc). It's quite odd... Oh, well! It’s not like I’m gonna voluntarily cut off my kneecaps for him or something.

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"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

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WesLuck
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unique is normal,
normal is weird,
weird is good! [Smile]

-hugs for the very fantabulous Peer Ambassador MusicNerd!- ta daa!

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Claire P.
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MusicNerd:
A reply to your dilemma about the always-awkward "don't say that's gay" interaction. It's always difficult to make those stands in a situation which may involve an atmosphere/people you are less familiar and therefore, less comfortable with, due to the potential risk factor.

But, if you are with people who you feel comfortable with, or at least people you know are probably not against non-heterosexual orientations at heart, it can be easier because you can frame it as a more casual response.

Just an idea: try teasing a little. In the same vein as that statement that you hope another situation can arise so you can ask, "so it's attracted to the same sex?"

Though this is not always the case, for people who use "gay" negatively, it can be just another ingrained part of their vocabulary that they haven't thought twice about (although I'm not sure the same can be said about "faggot?"). If you say, "I am offended by the use of those words," IF your listeners remember and respect that, there is a possibility that they are only altering their speech in front of you. And that's not indicative of any greater understanding you'd hope they have come to terms with.

For example of another method- I most often hear "gay" being used like casually and negatively like that by my two younger teenage brothers and their collective friends. I usually respond in studied mock interest, "Oh, that's/he's homosexual? How so?"

The response is almost always the listeners trading looks like they think I'm slow in some way- how could I not have understood what they meant?

Usually one or a few will try to explain that they just meant the thing or person in question was lame or a loser, and that's just something people say. To which I (still faking confusion- but exaggeratedly) respond, "Ohh...so when you said gay, you weren't meaning to hurt a gay person's feelings who might be listening. You were just going along with the culture, I see.

So...would you be able to just bounce back and be cool and understand if it's just a "thing people say" but instead of "gay," the "thing" was "Black" or "Chinese" or "Hemophiliac" or "Female?"
(Those are just examples- I usually try to pick terms that the specific individuals I am talking to personally identify with as a part of their identity they cannot do away with.)

While it is still obviously difficult to just erase a regular term from your regular vocabulary, I have witnessed a certain level of success with this. Maybe because people are less likely to go on the defensive immediately, and are therefore more open when you get to the closing question?

It's even harder to stand up and say something if you're interested in someone, and think they might respond negatively. But if he is worth your affection and time, he should be open to respecting not only your personal opinions, but that which they are grounded in.

Good luck!

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MusicNerd
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Sorry to take so long to reply!

Thanks WesLuck! As always, your hugs and little sayings are so helpful. [Smile]

Hi Claire! I don't believe we've met before, so nice to meet you! [Big Grin] I think I probably will try the teasing thing, but since the program's over, I probably won't see them as much anyway. Thanks so much for your input! [Smile]

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"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

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Claire P.
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No problem, MusicNerd!
If you have any similar future problems, even with different people, could still be worth trying out the teasing thing!

And it's nice to meet you too. [Smile]

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