View Full Version : Reclaiming the insults?
09-06-2006, 10:09 PM
What's in a name anyway?
Do you use a name that used to be negatively associated with GLBT people to describe yourself/friends?
Which ones have you reclaimed? Which ones do you still hate? Is it different coming from other people? Anyone know where these names came from?
09-06-2006, 10:18 PM
Among most of my friends, we use "lesbian" or "gay", but personally I do like the word "queer". "Dyke" is a bit harsher... but I feel more comfortable calling myself one when I'm dressed more masculine.
Of course, when hanging out with sbonser, you never know what you'll be called. :lol: I've been called lots of things that I would have taken offense to if she weren't gay and a close friend. It's a special understanding, though. :p
09-07-2006, 08:05 AM
I am a firm believer that it is not so much the words that are used, although that does have an impact. For me, more importantly, it is the intent behind the language that concerns me. If someone refers to me as a lesbian, which would feel comfortable to me, but uses the term in a way that has negative intent, to me that is as harmful as being called a dyke in a playful, fun sense. Does anyone get me on this? Sometimes, when I am trying to be sensitive to the needs of others in terms of the language I use to identify their culture/ethnicity/race, I use words that may not be the current PC word (like African AMerican instead of black) because my intent is not to be disrespectful- it is to not assume that using certain terms implies respect and admiration. INTENT. I also, will at times, ask questions of a person about what is a comfortable term of reference (gay, homosexual, etc).
09-09-2006, 12:44 PM
This is a tough one...
Given that I've pretty much waited until joining SF to come out as bi, I really haven't given much thought to which words I would feel insulted by...but I know the ones that make me cringe when I'm with LGBT friends. There is one in particular that's not on the list: fairy. I HATE that one! I can't tell you why, but it just makes my skin crawl.
The problem I have is that I have spent a good portion of my life "passing." I don't particularly "look" Jewish, so I can pass for a non-Jew...provided I take off my yarmulke! I'm married, so I don't "look" like a lesbian or bi. I get away with wearing a yarmulke because I'm clergy. But do I come out with the fact that I am bi? And what will that say about my husband? He knows of my preference for women.
Well, I got carried off on a tangent there. Back to the subject, when I hear the word "fag" I think of a cigarette...too much BBC growing up, I suppose. I don't really like dyke, but I will admit to a giggle when sbonser uses it in a sentence! :lol: (who can forget 'dykes on bikes?')
I don't think I like homosexual, simply because it has the word "sex" in it, and that seems to imply to non LGBT's that one is sexually active (why heterosexual doesn't have the same effect, I will never understand!:confused: )
I'm still working this one through for my own identity...I'll have to get back to you. For instance, am I a lesbian because I prefer women? Or am I bi because I'm happily married (though I have a hard time finding other men attractive)? :o I think however people term themselves is okay, but we have to be especially careful when applying terms to another. In a sense, if we choose to label others, no matter how kindly we feel towards them, it is still a judgement of sorts. I'm with Vanessa in that I think I would ask someone how they would term themselves.
09-09-2006, 06:18 PM
I am usually comfortable with just saying "gay" or "queer"... I do not like "fag" or "faggot" because I've been called that numerous times. I was just called that while waiting for the bus the other day by this coward in a vehicle. He drove away and yelled it. It was like he could not stop and say it to my face.
09-09-2006, 10:05 PM
I like the word dyke better than lesbian for some reason. It seems more powerful to me, stronger.
But it does matter who refers to me that way. If an anti-gay bigot were flinging that word at me, I might feel differently than when my partner and I just refer to each other as a couple of dykes. I guess it depends on the circumstance, really.
09-10-2006, 10:33 AM
For me, it's not so much was is said, as how it was said and in what context. Someone can be disrespectful using the word "person/people" - it can seem innocent enough, but when the context or delivery is mean and hateful, the words become mean and hateful.
In usual conversations, the words gay and lesbian are mostly used by myself and others. I haven't experienced too much 'name-calling', most of the negativity that I've received from some close family members are with the word "homosexual" - a favorite of the right-winged fundamentalist. I agree with the others, I believe that's because it contains the word "sex" in it, therefore, they enjoy emphasizing the word "sex" within the entire word to get their point across, and therefore, in that context the word becomes mean and hateful.
Some of the others are downright disrespectful and they aren't too cool in any context: fag, fairy, faggot - not a fan of these words. To many have been very hurt by them. I'm so thankful that I word for an employer who has NO tolerance for this type of language or abuse (the state of CA). It's wonderful to be able to be myself, out and not hiding in fear, and not worry about being disrespected in this way.
09-10-2006, 01:09 PM
OK, so I checked everything. Though I would agree that it matters where I am and who is saying it. However, the question was among friends. In other words in the general population I would just use gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans. While I prefer queer, in the general population it would just take too long to explain why I use that word.
Ok so it also asks what other words I have used- again this is just among friends- however they tend to be variations on a theme: uberfag, theory-queer(a person who knows all about queer studies theory but has never belonged to a glbt group and does not want to), softball player, dyke-licious (A lesbian who is also a fag-hag). Ok that's all I can think of right now and write on a public site without worrying about my post being deleted.
09-10-2006, 03:31 PM
Very much like Vanessa's take on the matter. It's all in the intent behind the words. My own way of saying this is that it has everything to do with tone of voice. Which, btw, is very hard to discern on a forum like this. There is the literal tone of voice which is heard by the listener and the tone of voice where a word is used in the context of a sentence, paragraph etc. And its easy to mis-hear the latter, isn't it?
I keep my ears open for uses of the word 'queer'. The younger generation seems to be 'taking back' that word. In fact, universities now have 'Queer Studies' departments.
I want to share with you a fascinating and fun online art installation that I just ran across yesterday. It's a bit risque, so I'm a little hesitant...but it is so pertinent that I can't resist. :)
This artist translates "derogatory words (400) used to disempower as well as identify queer culture" into Latin from English. On the website, the viewer "mouses over" the Latin words to hear the artist speak the English words.
I can't yet say why I find this website so compelling. Perhaps some of you will have thoughts. There is no offensive imagery associated with this site, but there are sections for "G", "PG", "R" and "X-rated" words and phrases. Please forgive me if you find it offensive.
Artist statement: http://www.sheilamalone.com/gallo.html
The Artwork: http://www.sheilamalone.com/DHW/index.html
My feelings about these kinds of words....
It is certainly one of our most amazing traits, this ability to absorb and metabolize these derogations. So many have been directed at us (as such kinds have been directed at other minority/hated groups throughout history) yet we invariably and with irrepresible humor are able to "reclaim" them as Mia says.
God is always making pearls from the gritty bits that irritate us.
I'm liking "queer" a lot lately...specifically because of things Zerbie has written here. She has changed me and helped me to identify many people around me that do not fit the standard labels. It has also been helpful for me to accept the most bitterly hateful terms for myself as a way of recognizing that I'm not always the person I would like to project...or that I imagine myself to be...or that I try NOT to be. I've been a great "judger" of people in my time, so understanding that I'm...(yes dear Zerbie) "the worst of all" is very liberating.
So...I laugh and call myself a "big ol' fairy" sometimes...though I'd never say it in public for fear of hurting someone. I embrace the part of me that is sometimes a "nelly queen" and try to identify with all the aspects of my people that are so hated by those who so hate us. In my speaking I use gay and lesbian mostly.
09-16-2006, 10:49 AM
I agree with most of what's been said so far about the situation and speaker making all the difference.
When sbonser :love: comes up and says "Hey, dyke," it's not an insult, but a friendly greeting. :D That same exact phrase spoken by a stranger would evoke completely different feelings.
It's kind of funny, but I don't think I would find the word offensive if I knew or even suspected the person using it was GLBT. If I wasn't sure, if I knew they were straight, or even if they were a straight ally, I would be on guard.
vBulletin® v3.8.4, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.