That is So Not Gay
Photo: Skip ODonnell/ istock
We can’t really call it a “man-cave” with a 3 - 2 ratio of females to males in our household, but our basement television room is occupied by large gatherings of adolescent males on a regular basis, shooting things (onscreen), each other (with Nerf guns), and making weapons out of duct tape and PVC piping. They also play Dungeons and Dragons, manufacture chain mail, hang out and watch kids’ movies with wry commentary and purposeful misinterpretation. And swear a lot; often while I’m walking through the room.
The boys freeze, eyes darting side-to-side nervously, until our teenage son says “she doesn’t care,” knowing perfectly well I’ve heard it all, and they go on with whatever game they’ve got going, be it D & D, Mario Kart, or Gears of War (a video game so disgusting even the guys were turned off by it).
What does stop me in my tracks is a sexist slur or those three words “that’s so gay.”
The online gaming world is homophobia-heaven, according to our straight-but-supportive son, who could spend all his time correcting slurs if he confronted every one. But the ones in our home, or the ones he hears among his posse at school, don’t get a free pass.
It is a mistake each boy only makes once, though with one he corrected "that's so gay" with "that's retarded" earning him a second death glare from our daughter, mighty protector of her developmentally-challenged little bro'.
The last time it happened was during summer, when we hosted a marathon of gaming, movie watching and burger barbequing that kept fourteen to seventeen year-olds, boys and girls, traipsing in and out of the backyard for weeks. It was one of the more eccentric boys, one who likes to pick on his peers and get a rise out of them, but he wasn’t even thinking when, in the middle of things, he said, “That’s so gay.”
And the room went silent. The girls, pretty much more socially adroit than their male counterparts, cringed. The other boys pretended they weren’t there.
I think it was my wife who said, “Dude, did you forget whose house you’re in?”
And the boy said, “What? Huh? What’s the matter?”
Our son said something along the lines of “lesbian moms” with a gesture and raised eyebrows.
At first the boy continued to pull the “What, what did I do?” bit, and then, confronted with the fact that he was using “so gay” as a criticism, making “gay” equal “bad,” he got that Bambi in the headlights look, and started with another round of “Wha…” when our daughter chimed in, stone-faced, with “just don’t say it.”
Best not to argue with a fourteen year-old girl. Especially when riled.
The boy continued to look confused, and the crowd of kids was becoming incredulous. My wife, as she passed out the door, tossed out, "I'll let them explain it to you," and they did.
Haven’t heard it since, though, according to our older son’s college application essay, he continues to confront it whenever he hears it in person (and disparaging comments about nerds as well), so we know there’s work to be done.
We can get rid of crap like that. One “man-cave,” I mean “basement” at a time.
Blogger Bio: Beren deMotier is a Carol Brady in Levis/tattooed lesbian mama in a mini-van, obsessed with safety, doing the right thing and the amount of dog hair on her wood floors. She is a regular contributor to both Curve and Black Lamb, and has written for Hip Mama, And Baby, Pride Parenting, ehow.com, and for her blog, “That Lesbian Mom Next Door.” Her multi-award-winning book, The Brides of March: Memoir of a Same-Sex Marriage, recounts her giddy leap through a legal window, straight onto the barbeque pit of public debate when she and her partner married in Oregon in 2004, their three children along for the raucous ride. (berendemotier.com)