But what have we done within the Saint Louis Community? Just an hour ago, at nearly 2 a.m., I was watching my Facebook feed blow up because of the use of one of these words. From my perspective (And again—I do not speak for anyone else, this is what I saw.):
Group A: Found it highly upsetting to see a specific word used in a flier. Group B: Finds it distasteful that Group A was offended. Group C: Doesn’t know that the use of the word “Tranny” is in fact, insulting and hateful. (Perhaps Group C—I can accept that. Maybe, just maybe, you did not know. So now you know—this should be the end of Group C.)
But why not instead of using Social Networking to air our negative behavior, we use that energy to learn, and to educate?
Words, they are horrible little things sometimes. They can cut a person worse and deeper than the sharpest Japanese knife. Once something has been said, unfortunately—it cannot be unsaid. So if I (being a GenderFluid, Queer Intersexed, Female Bodied, Sex Positive identifying person) call a gay male a“Faggot” as a joke—it’s wrong—even if I am a part of this community.
Now I don’t know this gay man’s story. Period. I mean how do I know that his father didn’t kick him out at the age of 15 and “Faggot” was the last thing his dad ever said to him?? Whether I understand why a word could be taken as offensive—it is my responsibility to know what words are malevolent and to never use them.
I remember at the age of 13 being called dyke by a group of people in Marching Band. That memory still sears into my soul. I didn’t even know myself at that point that I deviated from the norm. Even now, 21-year years later, it still hurts. Why would I or someone else ever want to put that hurt onto another human being? And have them carry that painful memory for that long?
So, what are we doing Saint Louis? We Pride ourselves that we have the biggest PrideFest in the Midwest for the LGBTIQA Community. But will it still be the biggest festival if we cut each other down with something so simple as words. Seriously? This is something that could be easily resolved just by being more sensitive with our own voices. Taking the time to understand why our sister or brother is upset. Why this word offended her. Or him. So it does not offend you, but it does someone else. So easy enough, don’t say it!
The Pride flag represents all of us, the colors are inclusive of every person on the spectrum. Is it still a rainbow if the yellow is taken out? The easiest way to divide the flag is call someone a name. We don’t like it when the majority of America degrades us—why would we allow it within our own community? What message are we sending to the people who vote on our rights if we cannot unify? What are we telling the youth of today? What legacy are we leaving to future generations? Breaking the cycle of hate and intolerance begins within our own ranks, within our own community. How can we preach tolerance to the masses if we cannot practice it?
We have all seen the “It Get’s Better Campaign.” The message being portrayed is “Life will get better as time goes by.” But the words that we are so flippantly throwing around amongst ourselves and at each other—these are the same words that these adolescents are hearing. We deserve better, and we owe them more.
So the next time you want to say “Dyke,” “Fag” or “Tranny”—no matter how clever or innocent it may be—think about those who might hear you, and what impact that simple word may have.
BY: S. WESTERMANN