Sunday 14 July 2019

Nerd Church - Casual Homophobia: A Thousand Cuts

(Warning: this post discusses several instances of homophobia, and the feelings caused.)

I use the term homophobia here as a catch-all for all types of bigotry against LGBTQ+ people.

When I was very, very, small, someone I love - an adult - said something that stuck a tiny dagger into my heart.

They said, " shows being Gay as something natural. Which it's not."

And a teeny-tiny voice in my small child brain said, 'But what about me?' and then I stamped it down very, very, hard.

Partly because I didn't know what I meant. What about me? What was I?

Well, if straight was the natural... then I was straight? Right?

Not long ago I recounted this occurrence to that same person (who is a lot more accepting and supportive these days)... and they couldn't remember it.

This big thing in my life - in my heart - was nothing to them. Not worth remembering.

Just a casual typical 1990s attitude - said and then forgotten.

But I didn't forget it.

Even when I'd bound myself up so tight I'd pushed all the Queer into a deep metaphorical dungeon somewhere (which I don't recommend,) I remembered that person telling me that being Gay was not natural.

And they must be right, right? They were an adult.

They were someone I loved and looked up to - I still love and look up to. Therefore, they must be right.

(For the record, I totally adore this person, so please don't criticise them as a person - it would break my heart. What they said was hurtful, but they're now very supportive and I love them very much.)

And that throwaway comment served as an internal magnet to every other casually Homophobic comment that you hear, growing up:

- Every time someone shouts 'Gay!' or 'Lesbian!' as an insult

- Every time someone calls even your tightly-closeted-self a 'f**king d*ke' (yes, that's happened to me)

- That time the freaking Biology teacher (I f**k you not,) explained that being Gay is genetic for boys, but a lifestyle choice for girls

- Every sly comment, subtle dig, and allo-cis-hetero-normative expectation - 'when you meet a nice boy,' 'no homo!' 'I think she's just trying it out - she can't really be, she's too pretty!'

...All of it wraps itself around that first remembered shard of hurt in your heart, and makes it bigger and more and more painful.

When I was about 13 or 14, our school had a non-uniform day.

Most schools in the UK have uniform, and you're only allowed to wear your own clothes on special charity days or sports days or sometimes school trips.

(...I always figured school trips are the one place you kind of need uniform, in order to keep track of everyone, but anyway...)

So, at the time, and completely subconsciously, I was dressing kind of butch.

As in, loose joggers and a nice big sports jumper, and I was done. No fuss. Comfy. Boyish. I didn't care.

Those were my clothes. They were what I liked to wear. I didn't think twice before I wore them to school. lovely school-mates soon corrected my non-socially-compliant attitude.

After that day, I made damned sure I dressed 'girly' enough on all non-school-uniform days.

I think I've blocked out most of what people said to me that day... I just remember that it hurt like hell.

I also vaguely remember being physically shoved at least once...

It's all a bit fuzzy because a) it was a long time ago, and b) I honestly don't like remembering it. Who would?

Each little incident - and if you're a Queer person, these little incidents are sadly more-or-less inevitable at some point in your life - leaves a mark.

It's like a thousand little cuts at who you are. A thousand little slices at your soul.

And they rarely heal completely - they leave a weakness there, an uncertainty, that wasn't there before.

...which means the next little cut has an easier path through, especially if it's made by family or friends - those cuts always go deepest.

And casual homophobia - the stuff that no-one challenges or blinks an eye at? - it's insidious.

It gets under your goddamn skin. But if you complain, somehow you're 'over-reacting.'

And then, there's the shock factor: how can you complain when you've been blind-sided by an unexpected comment?

And the safety factor: these things can escalate, and Queer people can and do get badly hurt and worse.

And it normalises hatred.

It says it's ok to treat LGBTQ+ people as less-than, as dirt, as something worthy of hurtful ridicule.

And that's not OK.

So please, non-LGBTQ+ people in particular, stop it.

Stop the casual comments and insults.

Challenge others who say and do these things (when it's safe to do so.)

Help heal a few of those cuts.

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Last updated: 9th August 2019


  1. Aw Cee :( This post broke my heart. I grew up with the adults around me using gay as an insult, and luckily I was able to realize that this was wrong. However, so many straight people never really grasp that concept, and it’s so disheartening.

    1. Aw, *hugs* you're so sweet Em!

      I think it's important to keep talking about it, and keep telling people that casual homophobia isn't ok.

      A year or two back, I legit. heard a small child turn to her father and say 'Daddy, you're a f****t.' (If I had said that to my parents they would never have found my body! Lol.) Instead of telling her off, the father turned around and said, 'No, you're a f****t!' and I swear to God if The Bestie hadn't heard it too, I'd think I was imagining stuff. Some people. *sighs*

  2. Some hurts never heal, or stay with us a looong time, like you say- I'm so sorry you had those experiences, but I think it's awesome you share them with the world so maybe people will understand and things get better?

    Great post. :)

  3. Yeah... she really was not a good teacher. In any way. But she was full-on about the 'fact' that Gay men are biologically Gay, and Queer woman, according to her, weren't. This would've been the late 00s-ish. *sighs*

    And thank you so much! <3


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