NOTE: I wrote this post last Christmas season. But since it’s funny and offensive and most of you have never seen it before, I’m running it again.
I was on a forum the other day when someone brought up the inconvenient hypothesis that saying, “That’s gay” might be offensive to gay people.
Typically, I’m a nonconfrontational offender. When I’m alone, I tend to think, “If someone is offended, that’s their problem.” It’s the same philosophy I use when eating meat. I love meat, but I have to pretend it wasn’t at one time frolicking in nature. I’ll let others kill for me, but if the apocalypse came tomorrow and I was suddenly required to kill my own food, I’d become a vegetarian. Same with offense. Once I can put a face together with someone being actually hurt, I often will pussy out and stop. Damn idiotic compassion. Knew I should stop following the Dalai Lama.
“There are worse things,” said my gay friend Nick when I asked his opinion, “but in a perfect world, I kind of wish that expression would just go away.”
Dammit. He was being cool about it, but the handwriting was on the wall. At heart, it bothered him.
He then added that his cousin keeps telling him how gay he is. She’s not doing it on purpose, either.
“She just can’t figure it out,” Nick told me. “Bless her poor, stupid heart.”
You’re probably wondering why I’m sweating any of this, but what you don’t know is that the gay arrow is among the largest and most powerful in my quiver. American Idol is gay, High School Musical is gay, Dancing with the Stars is gay, and the new Ronald McDonald is gay squared. There is no synonym to the way I use “gay.” “Lame” doesn’t cut it. “Dumb” doesn’t cut it. There is a certain particular species of lame/dumb to all of those things that implies that not only do they suck, but that they do so in a Bettie Boop wig, tap-dancing around with their penises tucked back between their legs.
“What if I’m not meaning for it to imply homosexuality in any way?” I begged. “What if it’s just a homonym that is actually an entirely different word, like ‘road’ and ‘rode?’ ”
“But it’s g-a-y, right?” Nick asked.
“A homonym that’s spelled the same way, then. Or maybe it could be g-h-e-y.”
“Look,” he told me, “use it if you want, seriously. Like I said, it’s not a big deal to me. But it will offend some gays, yes.”
Great. That’s like one of my black friends saying, “Well… I guess you could somehow justify referring to that hairstyle as ‘niggery.’ “
I sighed. “Times really do change. It’s funny – it was only 35 years ago that Carly Simon was able to score a major hit with, ‘You’re So Gay.’ “
“I don’t think that’s right,” he said.
“Well, between thirty and forty years, anyway,” I said.
Honestly, I think it’s all kind of unfair. Homosexuals annexed that word without notice. Overnight, it went from referring to a state of happiness and joy to one of wanting to have sex with dudes. Like, Liberace was always so bubbly and happy. In days past, you could have said he was gay. But then all of that changed.
And all of this at the gayest time of year. Revelers are gay. Tidings are gay. Hell, it’s December 6th, so thirty or forty years back, this was all one big gay season. “How are you today, Ted?” a man would ask his neighbor. “Very gay, thank you!” the other would reply. “I’ve never been so gay, in fact! And you, Roger – you’re also looking mightily gay. How’s the family? Gay, I imagine?”
As for us, we put up our Christmas tree today. While we were doing it, I made a point to think about how gay it was. I figured Nick wouldn’t mind. The true holiday spirit is one of universal gayness. This is the time of year that we can all be gay together as a people. We decorated; we hung tinsel; we listened to old music. If we wanted, we could even have roasted nuts over the fire.
I’m working on making peace with all of it. And Nick? He’s happy I’m trying.
“You should be my ambassador to the gay community,” I told him in the spirit of the gay holiday. “You know, help me sell some of my books across the rainbow border.”
“The cover art may need to change if you want me to do that,” he said, having seen the dog I placed on the cover of May Contain Nuts. “As it stands, your title implies an expectation that the book does not meet.”
I thought that was a funny thing to say, so I laughed and reveled in my holiday spirit of infinite gayness toward all mankind. I guess I can live without saying “that’s gay,” though I will indeed miss it. Perhaps I can find something less offensive, more universal.
But really, when you think about it, the whole situation is pretty retarded.