Calling Gay

This article was first published in the 36th Edition of Entelechy, a college magazine.

So I was made gay by a couple of friends the other day. I was on a call and the noise around was making it impossible to carry out the conversation so I went out of the room without pressing Windows + L. On coming back I had seen someone trying to quickly move away from my laptop and also my facebook account was logged out. I knew I had been made a homosexual. I haven’t removed the post. I don’t feel offended by it either because on the one hand I am boringly hetrosexual while on the other there’s no problem in being gay. But  are we homophobic ?

I don’t use facebook quite frequently, I guess I haven’t updated my status in years. And I chat or interact with hardly any set of people. And I am sure all of us know that the newsfeed and several other things on facebook adapt to our interactions with people. More the interaction with a person, the more of his/her activities we are made aware of in case there are other privacy settings in action. So you may guess that few people get to know what status i put up amongst other such things. But this “I am gay :D” thing, has fetched my wall the most number of likes and probably also the most number of comments(I might be statistically wrong but this update is right at the top in terms of number of likes and comments). I think the underlying assumption in having the supposed fun of calling someone gay is the fact that the person who is being called gay will feel uncomfortable about it. And that discomfort is the source of the supposed fun. It also means that we probably think of being gay or being called a gay when one is not, is an insult. If it is considered an insult then I think many from our community could have homophobic tendencies. I am not aware if we have any gay people around but come to think of it, you have a couple of gays on campus. I think the campus would turn into a very discomforting place.

Amongst the guys, we have also formed the habit of mocking people who by mistake happen to touch parts of a guy’s body that they are not supposed to. It’s extremely noticeable, the kind of reaction that people get even if its a minor poke in the belly. Amongst other attributes are people’s voices on the basis of which they could be ridiculed and also remarks on how one dresses.

There’s probably less of a problem in making this kind of fun then the manner in which that ridicule is constructed. The underlying assumption that I mentioned above during such gimmicks shows that probably not a lot of us are tolerant towards the queer population, may be intolerant towards many other issues. In that I see a discomforting scenario emerging. Though I do not have very relevant statistics to support my claims and questions but a few examples I collected from the world would be helpful.

In Jamaica, calling someone a “battyman” is considered to be the worst insult and people kill and die for such issues on a regular basis. A blogger posted that, “…It struck me a moment later that the particular kind of homo-related phobia that we have in Jamaica is not of gays themselves, but is instead of “being called gay” Being called gay in Jamaica is one of the worst things that someone can be accused of. Accusations can have dire consequences in this country. Lynchings happen from time to time, and less than a mile from my home a man was lynched after he attacked an employee at the tax office. The police only showed up when he was dead…”

Like in jamaica can we say that feeling belittled and insulted for being called a “gay” is one of the  examples one could offer of how homophobia is also present on campus ? May be not consciously but unconsciously probably.

Yevhen Tsarkov, a lawmaker from the Communist Party in Ukraine was quoted in the kyivpost, “Our society is traditional and just does not tolerate homosexuality. If some people are suffering from the mental illness of homosexuality, they should not display it in public and promote it to children. ” when After Sviatoslav Sheremet, head of the Gay Forum in Ukraine, announced on May 20 2012 the cancellation of the first-ever Gay Pride Parade, he was pummeled briefly by masked youths. No arrests have been reported. Sheremet was bloodied, but not seriously injured.

However, it was reported in the huffington post that a New York court has ruled that calling someone gay is not a case for slander any more. A straight New York man filed a slander suit against a woman who called him gay, claiming the false description damaged his very heterosexual relationship.

Though a Broome County court originally let the case go through, a judge today tossed the suit because “tremendous evolution” has changed social ideas of LGBT people.

From the Wall Street Journal:

A mid-level appeals court in New York says it’s no longer slander to falsely call someone gay.

The court says that although falsely calling someone gay or lesbian has for decades been grounds for slander, that’s no longer the case because being gay is no longer seen by society as negative. The court says a “tremendous evolution of social attitudes” and rights afforded to gays prompted the decision that overrules previous rulings. You may want to check this out.

Rephrasing the question, is calling someone gay still case enough for slander in DAIICT ? I think the answer would be yes for a lot of people amongst us.

I stumbled upon a news story that Italy was debating in 2010 whether calling someone gay is derogatory or not. The issue is all the more important since insulting someone in Italy is a fineable offence. I haven’t been able to find out what was the exact court ruling on the matter yet. “It risks reinforcing the idea that if you call somebody gay, they should feel offended,” said Aurelio Mancuso,” one of the country’s leading activists on the issue. “For us to be called gay is to be serene and comfortable.”

Violence against gays has continued to be a problem for most governments world wide. Studies have shown that there’s a higher chance of suicidal tendencies amongst gays then straight which is partly also because of the societal attitudes towards them, a considerable percentage homophobic killings continue to happen each year.

The world is not a good place to be gay after all, it seems.

Probably time to rethink our tools of ridicule in college life and otherwise.





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