Don’t Want To Be Part of the Problem: A Field Guide to Airborne Homophobia

Maybe I’m just feeling out of my element or maybe I’m thinking about it because of all the suicides last month, but it feels like I’ve encountered more homophobia in the past month than ever before.

Being here — in Spain, on a study abroad program with a bunch of other students from America and the UK — is like being 17 and having to come out to everyone all over again. When I’m at home, I’m surrounded by like-minded people who don’t say stupid things and who have my back if somebody else does. I took care of that problem ages ago by coming out. This time around I’m a lot more comfortable with myself, so it doesn’t feel like such a big deal, but I still worry that I might be stepping on someone’s toes. If I comment on how a girl looks, will someone think I’m being too aggressive or obnoxious? Is it too much to be political too?

So far there have been three times that I’ve said something. Each time, I’ve gone through the same cycle of thoughts and emotions afterward, making me think that someone should create a Kübler-Ross-style model of the stages of confronting ignorance. It would go something like this:

Regret: This stage occurs immediately after something is said. It is often accompanied by thoughts such as “Why can’t I keep my mouth shut?” “I don’t even know this person that well, now they’re going to think I’m crazy.” “They weren’t even being hateful, I should save my anger for when it really matters.” “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.”

Rethinking: This is the stage wherein the person tries to rationalize their initial reaction. Common sentiments include “If no one says anything, it’s never going to change.” “If it made me feel weird enough to have said something, think about how much it might hurt someone who isn’t comfortable with herself.”

Rerethinking: This stage settles in when the person can not get the incident out of their mind and are convinced that they’ve upset the social fabric of the entire world. Thoughts may include “What is wrong with me?” “Shit.” and “I actually am the angry dyke they were talking about.”

Rererethinking: This stage often occurs concurrently with the previous one. It may include feelings of empowerment or understanding such as “You’re only questioning yourself because there was no one there to back you up, you didn’t do anything wrong.” “They’ve probably never thought about that word before; maybe all they needed was someone to point it out.”

Rerererethinking: You get the point.

+++

Being somewhere new is like being a sleeper agent: no one knows you’re gay and so they feel free to say completely idiotic things in front of you. Let’s investigate.

Incident #1:

Location: Apartment party
Parties: Boy #1 (let’s call him Patricio), Boy #2 (BobEsponja), me

Patricio to BobEsponja: Dude, I love you. No homo.
Me: Don’t say that, you sound like an asshole.
Patricio: Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod.
Me: What?
Patricio: I just realized…you’re gay. I’m so sorry! I feel like such an idiot.
Me: It’s okay.
Patricio: It’s not okay! Oh noooo!
Me: I mean, yeah, it’s not okay. But I–
BobEsponja: It’s okay, we’ll just remember not to say it in front of you.
Me: What? No. No.
Patricio: Oh noooooooooooo.

Aftermath: I felt awful for calling him an asshole. There are way better ways to fight crime, superheroes. I also had to comfort him for 10 minutes afterward because he had a lot of feelings and was drunk. Actually everyone there was drunk and 10 minutes later, BobEsponja yelled “No homo” and passed out. Does it make sense to talk to people about homophobia when they’re drinking? I don’t know.


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Incident #2:

Location: Gender Studies classroom
Parties: Wet Lindsay, ADM, me

ADM: This class is going to be so full of annoying feminists.
Wet Lindsay: Yeah and the teacher said we’re just going to talk about women. This is a gender studies class, I came to learn about men too.
ADM: Yeah, our teacher’s a total dyke.
Me: Come on, seriously?
Wet Lindsay: Do you have a problem with us?
Me: Not with you but are you serious? “Our teacher’s a total dyke?”
ADM: I didn’t say that.
Me: Er, I’m sitting right here.
ADM: I didn’t say that.
Wet Lindsay: Yeah you did.
ADM: Okay yeah I did. So what?
Wet Lindsay: Anyway, if you’re going to be mad at anyone, you should be mad at me, I asked if she was a dyke.
Me: (angrily) I’m not angry! I’m just saying if you’re straight, and I’m assuming you are, don’t use that word.
Wet Lindsay: I am but you need to calm down, it doesn’t even mean anything in England.
Me: But we’re not in England.

Aftermath: I was eavesdropping and so felt entirely stupid injecting myself into their conversation. On the other hand, kids are killing themselves because of the homophobic messages they’re hearing and the girls were definitely talking loud enough in the silent classroom for all of us around them to hear. I was irritated that she used the word “dyke” when “lesbian” would have worked fine if all she was trying to do was describe her. And that she tried to defend herself by saying that it didn’t mean anything when she obviously meant it in a derogatory way. All that really matters was her intent, which was to undermine the teacher by commenting on her sexuality. Should you call strangers out when you’re listening in on their conversation? Probably not? I don’t know.


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Incident #3:

Location: Walking to class
Parties: Sam, me

Me: So what class are you taking?
Sam: History, don’t take it though, our teacher’s awful. She’s this complete dyke.
Me: No, no, no.
Sam: Huh?
Me: I don’t know what you mean by that.
Sam: She’s like really opinionated and asks us lots of questions and is really passionate.

Aftermath: I don’t even know what to think about this one. She meant it in a negative way, but all the reasons she hated her sounded like good things to me. Maybe it just means we don’t have much in common.

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Incident #4, Just for fun:

Location: Overheard at the Beach
Parties: Elizabeth, Ilene, Me

Elizabeth: Remember last night we went went to that gay bar?
Ilene: Ohmygod I was so drunk I totally forgot.
Elizabeth: That Italian chick totally wanted to bang you.
Ilene: You idiot, lesbians can’t have sex.
Elizabeth: Yeah but they can pretend, haven’t you ever seen The L Word?
Ilene: No.
Elizabeth: They use their fingers like this (hold her hands up like she’s holding a tray). The more fingers they use, the more it counts because it’s closer to sex.
Ilene: Ohh.
Me: (laughing)
Elizabeth: Is she laughing at us?
Ilene: We’re on a beach in Spain, I don’t think she speaks English.
Elizabeth: Oh, yeah.

+++

Anyway, this isn’t Spain I’m talking about, it’s the people I’ve met in Spain who are from America and the U.K. Despite a tradition of machista and a giant Catholic population, gay marriage and adoption are legal here. Women can be topless anywhere men can, the morning-after pill is available without a prescription, and and Zapatero has called himself a feminist. True, they just suspended sex education in Valencia, but my language teacher reassured me that Camps, the President of Valencia who approved the suspension, is infamous for being corrupt and shouldn’t be around much longer since elections are coming up. I don’t know what all this legislation means for day-to-day life yet, though. I need to gather up all my language skills and step out of the bubble I’m in because there’s got to be something out there that’s better.

But before I make my way into the big city that speaks The Spanish Language, I need to get a grip on my English. Here’s what I think works when talking about homophobia:

Be out. The more people realize that they actually know gay people, the more unacceptable it becomes to be homophobic. Being gay is certainly not the most important thing about you, but when you let people know that it’s an important part of who you are and how you see the world, if becomes harder for them to hate the sin, love the sinner or whatevs. Not to mention that stereotypes fall apart when people realize that you’re gay even when you’re wearing a skirt.

Be educated. Read things like this on Autostradde! Read all the books! Talk to people, so that when you find yourself in a situation that makes you think “I should say something,” you don’t sputter around for the right words and give up. Know why “no homo” makes you angry and be able to explain it calmly and reasonably.

Use the right words. Despite what Sam might think, being passionate about something is great. Damn the man but for lawd sakes don’t say that. Nothing is going to turn someone off what you have to say faster than words like “patriarchy.” There was probably a time when you were afraid to call yourself queer or a feminist or whatever identity you claim as your own now, so give the same benefit of the doubt to anyone else who is venturing into unknown territory. They’re not stupid or beneath you, they just don’t know yet that there are great people standing behind these words.

+++

What do you do? How do you balance having friends who don’t think exactly like you? Do you say what’s on your mind or do you pick your battles carefully? How do you think radically without alienating everyone? Do you share any of my feelings or am I alone in my compulsive need to be gaygaygay and in everyone else’s business?

Originally published on Paper Root.


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Laura is a tiny girl who wishes she were a superhero. She likes talking to her grandma on the phone and making things with her hands. Strengths include an impressive knowledge of Harry Potter, the ability to apply sociology to everything under the sun, and a knack for haggling for groceries in Spanish. Weaknesses: Chick-fil-a, her triceps, girls in glasses, and the subjunctive mood. Follow the vagabond adventures of Laura and her bike on twitter [@laurrrrita].

Laura has written 330 articles for us.

117 Comments

  1. 0

    this is great! in that horrible way where yes, all of these same things have happened to me/everyone else too. also i fucking love spain, it is my fave country (out of the not very many i’ve visited). and in retrospect, in spending time there, everything/one seems extremely heterointense and super gay simultaneously, which is confusing. i think that’s where a certain kind of faux-euroqueer thing comes in and makes it hard to ascertain who is gay/who is just sporting a euromullet.

  2. 0

    1. I love Spain.
    2. God, I would have punched them all in the face.
    3. You know what’s hard? You know how you can curse like a sailor all the live long day, but when a kid enters your sphere for 2 seconds, you neutrally switch gears into a curse-free zone? Or at least try to?

    The temptation to switch gears between radical and/or educated queer language to some dumbed-down version for the straights or unenlightened gays to understand is strong, sure, but is it right?

    Especially when we’re not talking about kids, we’re talking about grown-ass adults who shouldn’t need to be hand-held though being a respectful human being.

    But they do. I guess. Isn’t that appalling?

    Anyway, you know how people practice job interview questions? Or go through mock confrontations with family members or lovers in therapy and such? Doing mock retorts/responses to ignorant examples like these might help folks to be more comfortable and at ease with being an outspoken advocate/educator for queers (the same applies to having conversations w/ people re: violence against women and rape culture).

    Try it with your friends at your next dinner party, or with your hot GF.

    • 0

      I think they need people to hold their hand as they walk towards getting out of a habit of hateful speech that is very hard to break.

      But then, some people *coughcoughmyfathercough* see the homophobic comments as kinder and more polite than the alternative (the idea being that if we tell the homogays they’re doing wrong maybe they’ll stop being gay, and not go to hell, and that’s good for them, right?). And all I can say is, I guess, “Thanks for your concern, but no thanks.”

      I went on a comma binge just now. *sigh*

  3. 0

    “We’re on a beach in Spain, I don’t think she speaks English.”

    But doesn’t everyone on a beach in Spain speak English? I mean, didn’t tourists drive the actual Spanish people away from their beaches, or have I mixed up countries again?

    • 0

      + why on earth would a young Spanish girl on a beach not speak English?
      -this attitude explains a lot of the things I’ve heard American tourists say REALLY LOUDLY throughout the world. We speak English, you guys. Heard about globalization? International communication? Yeah…

    • 0

      Seriously, I’ve had people ask me if I speak English IN AMERICA. And I’m white. But I was working at jobs typically held by immigrants. I don’t know any Spanish at all.

      • 0

        Really? Wow. I’ve had the same question asked here in Scotland, except it was by someone just passing on the street. People amuse me.

      • 0

        I get asked if I speak English all the time! I am Hispanic, but that still doesn’t make it OK. My favorite is when someone asks me if I have “my papers”, whatever that is.

      • 0

        I’ve had people assume that I’m not from Australia without even hearing me speak (I’m white too, was born here, my family is from Italy and so is my appearance). People are so ignorant!

    • 0

      oh girl, obvs. it’s wayyy harder to convince people to speak spanish to me here than it is to find someone who speaks english. these girls just weren’t shining rays of intelligence.

      • 0

        Omg I’m so jealous of you!! I went to Universidad de Barcelona in 05 and it was seriously the best time ever. P.S. you should go to club Bikini if you haven’t already because they have Brazillian nights and there are live bands and often the really hot girls in the crowd will get up onstage and perform impromptu samba dances. it’s awesome!

  4. 0

    OMG I’m studying abroad in Argentina right now and I have the sammeee problem. Argetina is a very confusing country though, not just the North Americans I encounter here. Gay marriage just became legal about 2 months ago but I find the people are still fairly conservative. In fact, I got escorted out of a dance club two days ago by no less than FOUR bouncers for making out with a girl on the dance floor. The heterosexual couple that was practically fucking was perfectly fine though.

    • 0

      I’ve never heard that happen here before, it’s weird/hilarious. Though I’m assuming you’re in Buenos Aires and not some other province. And yeah, it is a confusing country. If you’re in Capital Federal, we should probably hang, I just got here like a month ago.

      • 0

        oh yeah, that’d be awesome! My email is anellis12@gmail.com. And yeah, it was weird/hilarious, I’m pretty sure it was just because of this one, apparently semi-important, douche that had been hitting on both of us earlier and was pissed that he obvs had no chance

    • 0

      @ash-catch-them: This has nothing to do with the discussion, but w/r/t to your sn: I used to ADORE pokemon. Just sayin’.

  5. 0

    No matter how politely and calmly I have put it…which usually is something along the lines of “Not cool.” they get instantly defensive. I suspect because they know from the moment I say “Not cool.” that they have indeed said something that wasn’t cool. They’re trying to justify it more to themselves.

    I don’t worry about coming off as an angry dyke. That’s just another way of calling someone uppity. Speaking out is always uppity.

  6. 0

    Location: kitchen at work
    Parties: me, and that kid josh*

    Josh: man that is so gay
    Me: yeah, that is so josh.
    Josh: What?
    Me: nothing

    I get really embarrassed all the time (by everything) so if I’d spoken louder and he’d actually heard me and maybe I could have opened up the whole “using a word negatively implies…” “how would feel if I used your name…” line of schooling.
    In my LGBT studies class we just critiqued a Sensitivity Training company’s power point. I’ve emailed them a link to this, just for them to mull over.

    *you think at some age in your life you’d never have to deal with teenage boys again but here they are all up in my minimum wage job…

  7. 0

    I should do this.

    I should call people out when they are homophobic. Why don’t I? Because I am scared of being the Angry Lesbian. I already suspect I have the Angry Feminist label. I don’t want another one. And…I don’t want to be out. It’s too scary. It’s a leap into the dark, one I don’t want to take.

    I hear people who kind of maybe declare themselves allies then use gay as a pejorative and I just…I just want to scream. Like in Mad Men, where people say “You’re such a Jew.” People say that there’s always going to be racism and homophobia. Well maybe, but are you saying we shouldn’t do anything about it? Because I seriously think with that attitude we’d still have slavery. Heck, we’d still be living in goddamn caves. It’s now no longer (I hope) acceptable to say you are such a Jew. Although the joke made recently at school “what difference is there between a black man and a park bench? A park bench supports a family” shows that racism really hasn’t gone in my generation. I wish it had.

    47 years after Martin Luther King said “I have a dream today” that dream is still not fulfilled.

    He also less famously said “There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?”

    Never. Until equality. For everyone. When it is no longer acceptable to say racist jokes, to call someone a faggot, dyke, poof, queer, fairy or any of the other myriad insults straight people have attacked us with over the years. When it is no longer acceptable for transgender people to be called a hermaphrodite. When Google Instant can no longer exclude lesbians from its search results. And when the Pope does not declare who I am to be against natural law. I did Philosophy ok? I know fucking well what natural law is.
    Judge people on the content of their character, not their skin colour. I so wish that was true.

    (N.B this was part of a diary I keep and it seemed relevant to the topic.)

  8. 0

    You are a better person than I, laura. I probably would have sighed loudly and then done a epic freddy headshake of disgust.

  9. 0

    So, I was visiting my brother’s recently, he lives in the suburbs with a wife and kids and everything. We’re living in the Midwest. He and his wife have both told me that they’re ok with my homosexuality though we haven’t talked about it really at all.

    I was there that day mainly to babysit his kids, so I was there for a favor for him. And then he and his wife got home and went to their neighbors for some drinks and invited me and I would have felt like an anti-social ass for not going. And they’re talking and I have nothing to say and feel like I have nothing in common with them and then they decide to start telling these weird stories about finding people in public having sex. And they all seem to have a story about catching someone in a car or at work in akward positions.

    Then suddenly the guy whose house we’re at goes to his wife, “Remember that time I saw those lesbians making out in a car at the high school?” Everyone seemed to get a little quiet and uncomfortable, and I didn’t understand the point and I felt my whole body just go kind of numb. Like I wanted to get the fuck out of there but didn’t really understand why. And I don’t really remember what he said after that because I was sort of hearing it in a haze and I was thinking, this is actually happening to me, I’ve never felt more awkward before. Then I heard my sister-in-law exclaim, “Ick!” Then I wanted to die. But I just sat there and waited until we left feeling like my whole body wanted to crawl out of its skin.

    Like. I don’t know. What do you do in a situation like that? My sister-in-law tells me she loves me and doesn’t care that I’m gay, but WTF? And I got so mad at both of them after that and felt like I didn’t have a right to be mad because nobody said anything directly to me or anything. And I’ve said stuff before when my brother has said, “that’s gay” and like, they’re just not getting it. And then I was mad at myself for not saying anything. I just didn’t have the guts.

    So yeah. I think you’re awesome for speaking up and I hope I can grow some ovaries and do the same eventually.

    • 0

      I hate it when things like this happen–feeling hurt by someone who is pretending that what they’re saying isn’t going to hurt you, then feeling like you must be hysterical or something. It’s not fair. And to me it’s this kind of situation that I feel most compelled to speak up, because the thing that’s hurting you is compounded by feeling paranoid, by feeling like because you love this person you should buy into their implicit request to forgive them for what they’re saying…ugh. Not fair at all. But! If we speak up in these moments, with these people we care about, then everyone can actually move on and be better people.

      That said, a lot of the time I just feel like this is just a gigantic responsibility that I don’t want and I just end up saying whatever I think Daria would say….

        • 0

          I would but there’s that whole evil lie that MTV perpetuated, which we all know well–the lie that Daria and Jane weren’t doing it.

          • 0

            TOTALLy. wow thanks guys, I never figured out why that didn’t make sense to me when I was younger, but yeah I think that even before I realized I was gay I somehow knew that Daria and Jane should’ve been portrayed as gay. hah

  10. 0

    For me personally, any of the friends that I hang out with know that it’s not okay with me. It’s not okay to use homophobic pejoratives. So mostly when I encounter this its not with people that I’d like to continue any sort of relationship with. Of course, I’m not in a foreign country where I know relatively few people. Its a circumstantial thing.

    Mostly that means that I turn in Cranky Angry Feminist Lesbian on the inside and stop caring about what people think of me.

    On the outside I’m usually satisfied with just saying “not cool” and then let everyone get all defensive and sputter at me. Sorry, I don’t recognize your “right” to demean me as a human being.

    • 0

      -Sorry, I don’t recognize your “right” to demean me as a human being.

      Thank you, I will be saying this in the future.

  11. 0

    You know what, me and my best friend, we have found an excellent way to cope with that.

    I live in Germany and not that long ago the word “gay” has become the new “that sucks”. That did actually hit me unexpectedly, because, really, I could swear half a year ago, none of my peers knew what the word ment!!!
    But I think with that, people gave me the permission to use their names as well. I mean, I honestly don t see a difference in depicting something/one as “so Aina” for saying “such a slow thinker” or “that joke was so beyond Lynn” for “that joke was less than flat” as those people screaming the whole day “THAT S SOOOO GAY”.
    And another thing we are doing is to just give the whole expression a new meaning by adding a positive connotation to it. The last time someone went like “That teacher is so gay” we put on a super serious face and answered “Really? We like her as well, we also think she is a nice person. But do you really like her THAT much? “GAY” that is almost beyond any describable words!”
    And I have to tell you that worked pretty well =)
    All of them were so confused, they re never going to do that again in front of us!

    Fortunately few people know words like “faggot” or “dyke” up until now, so they just stick with gay… but their English skills will advance =S

  12. 0

    did you ever hear that feminist slogan, “women TAKE UP SPACE”? i feel like that applies here too, by taking up space with WORDS – being out, confronting people about their homophobia, and forcing them to acknowledge it too – it helps us all TAKE UP SPACE.

  13. 0

    “What do you do?”

    I talk to everybody the same way. If you talk to gay people one way, and straight people another way, people see this, and they know it. This is exactly the kind of shifty, shady behavior that nobody can get a grounding in. I’ve had things work out best when I’ve made no allowances for people’s orientation, gender, background, living conditions, etc. I simply assume that like me, they are people who are interested in not having their time wasted.

    “How do you balance having friends who don’t think exactly like you?”

    There’s nobody that thinks exactly like anybody. I’m gay, I own guns, I live happily in the sticks, I have a non-standard gender configuration, and I don’t believe in the whole left/right paradigm, much less place myself on the left wing. I don’t know anybody else who is like this. See above. Start with the assumption that people are competent. To do otherwise is unethical.

    “Do you say what’s on your mind or do you pick your battles carefully?”

    Both. I wing it.

    “How do you think radically without alienating everyone?”

    I’ve alienated lots of people, which is fine. The only way to make meaningful connections with other people is by being yourself and saying what you really think. If people don’t agree, well, just disagreeing doesn’t kill anybody.

  14. 0

    Getting into an argument doesn’t really help anyone and people also don’t generally respond well to being accused of homophobia even indirectly.

    I think it might be better to ask them, as though you are genuinely interested rather than hurt or angry, why they used say dyke as opposed to lesbian or why he felt the need to qualify his affection for his friend with a ‘no homo’. If you do it right, it draws attention to their use of language without turning it into a confrontation, and gives them the opportunity to reflect on it themselves rather than being told how to act and what to think.

    Be polite, be kind, be calm. It helps other feel better about changing their behaviour if it’s coming from someone who is very reasonable and understanding.

    • 0

      This.

      Yelling at people might get them to stop saying “dyke” around you, but it won’t do anything to change their understanding of why it’s wrong.

      In a way, it’s about being an ambassador to the queers — that’s an ambassador, not a war general. You’re absolutely justified in being upset/offended, but most of these people have never spent more than 10 seconds thinking about what life is really like for someone who isn’t straight. But most of them are smart/well-intentioned enough to get it if someone explains it to them. Gotta get them thinking, not getting defensive.

      Hope you’re having fun in Spain, Laura! 🙂

  15. 0

    I have a few tactics for dealing with particularly difficult individuals. There are men who come into my restaurant all the time and I think it’s because they know or are “friends” with my crazy owner, but generally if they are there and i am there, they will take the opportunity to hit on me. These guys are of all stripes, races, religions, etc. so usually what I do is try the “can’t judge a book by its cover” approach. it works pretty well. the following convo took place during a really slow night at the restaurant between me and a straight, black man in his thirties with a slight accent that i couldn’t place:

    man: soooo what do you do besides this? are you an actress? a model?

    [this is a very typical question asked of waitresses in LA…really…every single one of my coworkers has been asked this, such a tired line]

    me: sigh. nope. i’m a writer, sort of, but i’m trying to figure out my life at the moment. thinking about a few different careers, maybe grad school. I really don’t know yet.

    man: well i mean if you gave me your number, maybe i could help you out.

    me: mmm…i don’t usually give out my number. wow it really looks like those forks need rearranging over there…

    at this point my bizarre coworker, joe, who has done far too many drugs in his life and spends most of his time talking about farts and his dick, walks by and goes “hey man! get away from her! you’re scaring the customers away cuz you look like a thug!”

    now, joe knows this guy and they are semi friends i guess, so i guess joe thinks it’s okay to make a random racially/stereotypically-charged remark to this dude, even though i was totally appalled by it.

    man: i don’t look like a thug, joe! i’m just talkin’ to the lady.

    joe: whatever, dude. fart.

    me: please ignore him, he’s an idiot and an asshole. just goes to show that stereotypes suck and are usually wrong. you can never assume anything about a person based on what they look like, and no one ever should. you don’t steal things, so your’e not a thug. end of story.

    man: yeah, i know, joe’s just a crazy guy. i have to shrug that kind of stuff off a lot.

    me: i know how you feel, people are always making incorrect assumptions about me based on how i look.

    man: oh, i bet i know why. it’s because you’re blonde right? but you’re actually smart?

    me: uh no… i was going to say that pretty much everyone i’m meet assumes i’m straight.

    man; ….what do you mean by that

    me: ..liking guys? what else does “straight” mean??

    man: so wait, you like women?

    me: yeah

    man: but like, do you ALWAYS like women or um…

    me: do i sometimes sleep with guys, are you asking? no, i don’t. i’m not bisexual.

    man: oh. um. well the competitive man in me wants to tell you to come back to my team. the competitive man in me wants to convert you and tell you about all the advantages of being on my team.

    me: please, just don’t. i’ve heard it all before. and you DO realize you can’t convert people, right?? i mean, could i make you like men, if i tried reeeallly hard to convince you?

    man: *pause* okay i see what you’re sayin’ i guess i can respect that. uh. but i mean i would wish i could try. i mean god really didn’t make a mistake with you.

    me: okay well i REALLY have to go fold napkins now. talk to you later…

    man: where are you from?

    me: the san francisco bay area. you?

    man: uganda

    At that point i froze, all i could think about was the “kill the gays” bill, and was thinking to myself “holy shit katie who did you just out yourself to??” but i took a breath and realized that assuming what this man would think based on the fact that he is from uganda is on par with him thinking he could turn me straight (although i DO think it is wise to keep sexuality on the DL in countries whose governments are openly hostile to lgbt people). however, this particular guy was harmless, if a little misguided. i ended up talking to him a few minutes later again and he said he respects my life and was sorry if he upset me. so i guess that’s a win?

    anyway, i think i’ve procrastinated studying for the gre enough by now. really enjoyed the article. thanks laura! oh and ps when i studied abroad in spain i was still “straight” so i wasn’t tuned in to the rampant homophobia everywhere. but MAN are women objectified on the streets of europe! still, though, i love spain with a firey, penelope-infused passion and i will one day return…

  16. 0

    I get that people fear being isolated/alienated/ostracized for seeming “too gay.”

    “Angry dyke” is a label many butch dykes carry regardless of their demeanor. “Angry dyke” is the lesbian equivalent of “faggy” or “flaming”. Masculine women = angry dyke.

    Being called an angry dyke has completely lost it’s effect on me as a deterrent. In 8th grade my guidance counselor called me “anti-social” because I didn’t fit in.

    The reality was that I was a painfully shy baby butch that couldn’t relate to my peers. They were all in high gear boy crazy phase and talking about clothes and makeup. I thought there was something wrong with me for not feeling attracted to boys–for not getting it. Putting on makeup or wearing a dress felt foreign…so foreign in fact that I thought God put me in the wrong body.

    I didn’t come out. I was outed by how I looked. Kids in high school called me dyke and pussylicker because I looked gay and my mannerisms were masculine. I didn’t have a girlfriend. I didn’t hit on girls. I didn’t comment on girls. In fact, I did everything I could to not even look at girls. But somehow they could still tell. I looked gay.

    Now, not every gay girl looks like me. But that’s not the point. Every girl who looks like me is going to get called a “fucking dyke” whether they’re gay or not.

    My junior year of high school I did the unthinkable. I cut my hair. Holy shit. Before I just had long hair in a ponytail, frequently with baseball hat. But I guess I just got tired of it. It didn’t occur to me that cutting my hair would come across as some sort of statement. But boy howdy did the floodgates of homophobic slurs open when I, already rumored to be gay, showed up to school with short hair. I may as well have shown up to school waving a rainbow flag and yelling “I’m here, I’m queer, fuck you.”

    It was also at this point what friends I had left were just like “Now you’re just bringing it on yourself.” Because, surely if I wanted the harassment to stop I could try to look a little less queer.

    I have this problem…I let this shit fester when it feels like other lesbians are trying to distance themselves from “stereotypical dykes.” Their fears are not unfounded. You will be alienated if you happen to fit a stereotype. Get it?

    The masculine=aggressive=angry stereotype was forged out of butch identity, not the other way around. To embrace my identity is to embrace the stereotype and all the shitty things people say about it.

    There is no rise in suicides. There is no rise in homophobia. This is how it’s been…but unreported. And it’s really easy to filter out when you’re not constantly reminded of it. Filtering isn’t necessarily bad though…it’s a coping mechanism. It’s just, you know, you can’t filter direct bullying like when it’s said to your face rather than overheard.

    • 0

      “I let this shit fester when it feels like other lesbians are trying to distance themselves from “stereotypical dykes.” Their fears are not unfounded. You will be alienated if you happen to fit a stereotype. Get it?”

      Oh shit, you mean if gay people act like good little gays, remain asexual, constantly self-police, and try as hard as we possibly can to replicate everything people want from us, we still won’t be accepted?

      This is devastating news!

      LOL

      • 0

        No, actually I meant if you happen to fit a stereotype, even other gays will make you feel alienated as they try to distance themselves from that stereotype.

        • 0

          Right, and what I was getting at is: even if you do your “best” to try NOT to fit a stereotype, you’ll still get shit on.

          Looks like there’s no use either way, so we might as well enjoy our lives :D.

        • 0

          I have the opposite situation–I’m constantly getting mistaken for straight because I don’t fit the gay girl stereotype. I just simply don’t feel comfortable with short hair or being more butch because that is not who I am. I can’t rock the short hair or alternative hair or androgynous or masculine presentation, but I think women who can are sexy! I just feel like I would be shortchanging myself because the way I am now is how I feel most comfortable. But I never ever avoid hanging girls who look more obviously gay because of the association factor. I think butch women are amazingly brave for going through the world looking the way they do and being unabashed about who they are, regardless of the backlash, and I’m proud to walk side by side with them. If it makes even one person realize that lesbians come in all stripes, presentations, shapes, and sizes, then we are doing something right! 🙂

    • 0

      I agree completely with what you say grrl romeo. The problem with looking butch is its assumed your gay right from the start. I can imagine a lot of girls not wanting to associate with someone who looks visibly gay if they are uncomfortable with the “gay by association” thing that people seem to assume.

      Being butch means being out all the time, and you have to deal with the subtle homophobia on a day to day basis.

      I am not that butch, so i dont have to deal with it but I can imagine.

  17. 0

    Excellent article aside, that was a glorious, GLORIOUS “Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging” reference.

  18. 0

    Laura – Thanks for the great article! I have this problem all the time at work, and haven’t quite figured out how to manage it. I change teams constantly (work teams) and don’t feel like coming out anew every month to people. But I think being out is a HUGE part of the solution. People are way less homophobic and bitchy when they have a real live queer around as an example.

    I found this video really helpful on understanding the whole no homo thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84wHXT2KgWY

    I’d never really heard of it before, and it’s helpful to have background.

    Rock on!

  19. 0

    My English teacher referred to a character as “faggy” at the end of class the other day, and I was too shocked to do anything but walk out the door when class was over. Should I do something about this, like write an anonymous note telling him it was offensive, or should I try not to get on his bad side? I know he wasn’t doing it to be offensive, but I basically have a zero-tolerance attitude towards gay slurs (specifically when straight people use them).

    • 0

      Do NOT write an anonymous note. Face him. Tell him you are gay (or whatever it is you are), that you don’t accept what he did, and that you will continue to call him to task on that stuff every single time he does it.

      What do you mean try not to get on his bad side? Who the hell is he? He doesn’t run your life. He’s a person. You don’t need to impress him. I know, I know – you want a good grade from him. Consider this:

      Grades are moronic. There are only two kinds of assessment that really matter: self-assessment, and one’s actual performance in the real world. Grades teach people to eschew these common sense measures of performance and instead look to “experts” to tell them how they are doing.

      Think of something you learned to do, that you do very well. Now imagine that every time you did it, somebody stopped you and wrote a number in red pen on what you were doing. You would never have become competent at it.

      Most worthwhile activities require repeated failure at first. With grades, failure is actually considered bad. In life, failure is essential to learning. If you haven’t failed, you haven’t done anything worthwhile.

      And this talk that you need good grades/test scores/fancy diplomas to have a decent life? It’s bullshit. I flatly don’t believe that grades or test scores have any correlation to success or fulfillment (whatever those things may be to you) later in life. When your parents chose what doctor you were going to have, they didn’t ask the doctor what grades they got or what their SAT score was, BECAUSE IT DOESN’T MATTER. So forget the grade thing.

      The way to win respect from anybody who is worthwhile is to show them, through your actions, that you are serious about what you are doing. Start with the assumption that this guy is a reasonable person who is capable of things like considering others’ point of view, or admitting that he was wrong. Look him in the eye and talk to him as a fellow human being. Show him you mean what you say.

      Not intending to steamroll you with my rant here, but I feel strongly about all of this. It’s going to be hard to get any kind of genuine response about him, because he is going to be concerned about getting fired, sued, etc. But that’s not your problem. Try to handle things face to face with this guy. Good luck.

    • 0

      An alternative would be to go to your department head and have a chat with him or her. Explain that you felt uncomfortable.

      Unless, of course, this jerk is the department head. That happens sometimes.

    • 0

      When I heard my high school bus driver call someone a fag I told the Dean of Students and she told the driver to cut that shit out. I think you should go to the principal if you can.

          • 0

            They won’t take a student seriously if the student doesn’t actually face them. As for the boss, let’s listen in on the conversation:

            PRINCIPAL: Hate to call you in here, but we got these PC yahoos running rampant now.
            TEACHER: No shit. Ridiculous.
            PRINCIPAL: Hey, we’re golfing this weekend. You in?
            TEACHER: What are you, a little light in the loafers?
            BOTH: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
            TEACHER: Sure, if I can get the wife to shut the fuck up about it.

          • 0

            I’m only giving her advice based on my experience. The bus driver wouldn’t have listened to me – she didn’t like me – and for all I know the same is true of the English teacher. Of course a conversation like you described could take place and she should use her judgment.

          • 0

            diver, i like reading your comments. they come from a viewpoint that’s pretty different from what i’m used to and i’m glad that there are people who are secure enough in themselves, their jobs, their friends, and their lives to say “fuck it” and do what they want. you know what, though? i’m not and that’s why i wrote this article; i struggle with what to do in this kind of [ok, every] situation. i’m 22 and about as self-concious as you could be. persephone’s got a problem and she’s looking for help. you said above that you’re not like anyone else so why would you assume that your way is the only right way? keep telling us how you live because i know i need to hear that one day maybe i’ll be ‘me’ enough to not worry about how i come off to others but don’t shut down dialogue.

          • 0

            Huh? Well THAT wasn’t what I was trying to get across. Communication breakdown… Anyway, you know best what to do in your own situation, and the same for persephone.. I guess that’s the bottom line.

        • 0

          I was suggesting it as an alternative in case the student wasn’t comfortable wasn’t talking to the teacher, not the only way ever. There are many approaches, and I think both are valid depending on the circumstance.

    • 0

      For what it’s worth, I agree with Dina and Brianna. There’s nothing wrong with talking to someone higher. This is what adults do in the work place in cases of sexual harassment. Do which ever you’re more comfortable with.

        • 0

          AND they do it if they don’t feel safe, or that they will face severe consequences for speaking their mind.

          I am all for growing a pair, don’t get me wrong…but as mentioned before, there are different ways to get to the same place.

          • 0

            I really do see that point of view, and in some circumstances, it’s the correct solution. But I can’t overlook this:

            If you said something that someone else found to be offensive/hurtful/distasteful, would you rather that person talk to you about it, or bypass that step and go to your boss?

            Again, I get the other point of view, but to me it’s better to just go the human route and talk to people if it’s possible to do it at all.

            We get in a mindset where we believe that our own inner resources are not sufficient to solve a problem, and that we must go to the “officials,” “experts,” and “authority” for everthing. You know, “It’s their job, they get paid to do it.” But it’s YOUR life, and for that reason, you should do it if possible. There’s so many instances in which the official channels are smoke and mirrors.

          • 0

            I’m pretty certain that going to the person above is also the human route.

            I have a decent life. Sure. But it would’ve been a better one had I gotten better grades and gone to college after high school. It’s not bullshit. It sucks that it is the way it is. But it doesn’t change that it matters. There are a number of jobs that ask for college transcripts.

            We are actually talking to someone in high school asking what to do about a teacher saying something homophobic. There’s a clear power differential, and if you can’t see that…then, well…maybe you don’t really know what the human route is either.

          • 0

            I think you know I see the power differential, but why not show people that they can have another reaction to it besides being intimidated by it, or just flatly accepting it (and their place in relation to it)? What’s the harm in talking to the teacher directly? I’m suggesting this as a course of action in part because I’ve had so many experiences where power structures that seemed so absolute to me when I was younger turned out to be weak in the face of any meaningful opposition. And besides, the teacher could be receptive to discussion anyway.

            As for grades, there’s certainly numerous examples of people who had terrible grades and are doing fine. These people are hardly the exception to some rule. I understand you feel differently, but I really do think that whole thing is not just bullshit, but is worse – it’s actively detrimental.

            In any case, it’s good that different points of view are being presented here. People in these situations can read and make up their minds.

  20. 0

    LOVED this article! Thank you so much for taking the time to write up all these experiences. Shit man, these people really suck. I think your responses were really good! You can’t make ppl change their minds, but you can tell them what’s on yours, and how their comments are affecting you. Even if they didn’t apologize in the moment, they’re definitely going to think about what you said after the conversation is done.

    I am in a grad program where we constantly challenge ourselves and each other on our homophobia, biphobia, racism, sizeism, abelism, etc. Actually, we all have to go to seminars teaching us how to tone it down so as NOT to alienate the rest of the human population in doing so. I am not a conflict-loving person but the one thing I will argue with ANYONE over, and I mean ANYONE, whether it’s one of my clients at work or my partner’s parent’s Republican best friends, is IF THEY TALK SMACK ABOUT PEOPLE. I have found if you just kind of calmly state a fact it puts ppl on less of a defensive: “Actually, it’s not really true that gay people are more promiscuous than straight people.” “You know, I think that’s a word people who are gay use, but sometimes when straight people use it, it can sound kind of mean.” No one has EVER stopped being friends with me for telling them something like this. They might not agree with me, but I think they actually like me more.

    This technique also works when you’re Speaking Truth To Power! My bosses and teachers always know where I stand on this stuff because I tell them. I had a teacher in high school who told our whole class, “I wouldn’t shake hands with someone with AIDS because I wouldn’t shake hands with a murderer.” He was the scariest Republican nutjob I have ever encountered in a public education setting. I told him a fact after class: “My uncle died of AIDS, and he wasn’t gay, and he wasn’t a murderer, and I’d appreciate if you didn’t say things like this in class.” He apologized profusely and never said anything more about his obvious hatred for homos. I don’t think I changed his mind much, but at least he wasn’t poisoning the airwaves and polluting the minds of my classmates.

  21. 0

    I grew up being bullied pretty much my whole life, and one of the first coping mechanisms I developed was to take what was being said to or about me and claim “ownership” of it. Kids wanted to call me weird, call me a freak and a nerd, so I decided to embrace those things. They gave me power. In the same sense, I’m not at all bothered by being called a dyke, and while I’ve toned down my usage, I, my girl, and our friends are still guilty of saying “gay” as a detraction.

    I tend to watch more about what people say in regards to the actual queer life, and not so much about when certain words get slung around. I will become Militant Feminist Dykster Supreme on someone who uses the Bible as an excuse to ostracize, belittle, or attack anyone – gay, muslim, jew, whatever. I’ll shred anyone who tries to fling around bullshit about “natural law,” “wanting special rights,” or “not as successful and valid.”

    I just don’t know, for me, where the line is between defending and being defensive. I don’t know that lecturing every single person out there every single time they utter a no-no phrase is really going to do much to endear homos to him or her. I do feel like, in my case (as I can only speak for me), that letting that stuff roll off my back and showing that I’m not a hypersensitive ninny baby has actually won me more friends and more respect.

    I’m sure many of you won’t agree with that, I can think of plenty of ways I can contradict what I’ve just wrote in my own life and practice. I respect that, I’m just winging it too, you know?

  22. 0

    This is basically my entire social life. Even though I go to a liberal college and have mostly queer friendly friends and co-workers, i find plenty to be offended by. I have decided I don’t care who i offend, because whatever they just said was said without thought for other people. At least my response will come from a carefully examined place, not just blurted out and hurtful.

  23. 0

    my gender studies college experience…at a rather wellknown WOMENS college, i signed up for a class on the history of feminism. arrived & the prof asked, “what is feminism?”
    the class–all women–all straight-looking but who knows– brainstormed for awhile until one girl said,
    “There are all these negative stereotypes about feminists!”
    “like what?” sez prof
    “like… they wear flannel!”
    “They have short hair!”
    “They don’t shave their legs!”
    “They’re all lesbians!”
    “They hate men!”
    etc etc and i sat there in the back with my flannel wearing dykey self thinking, Should I just walk out of the room? Once the description was complete the prof said,
    “OK, well WE know feminists arent those negative stereotypes… so what does feminist mean to US?”

    i dropped the class.

  24. 0

    i love this article, thank you for writing it. i went to a very liberal (gay/activist/hippie) college that has since changed immensely. it makes me very sad since i still work here but that’s my problem. having a degree in women’s studies (now called gender studies here) makes you feel insane about 85% of the time. it’s a gift and a curse because you never get to feel the whole ‘ignorance is bliss’ feeling. not that i want to be ignorant but i trust you get what i mean. it’s difficult to be around the majority of people, which is also pretty sad. anyhow, great article!

    p.s. i truly adore all of the tegan and sara references peppered throughout this site. <3

  25. 0

    I loved the article. I have so many thoughts on this subject. One of them is that it’s harder to be a feminist lesbian when you’re socially awkward with new people, and have low self-esteem.
    My best friend is a straight girl and I hang out with so many straight people, but they all have some understanding of queerness. I seriously don’t get along with people who are so straight that they don’t even want to understand how they can seem offensive. I don’t know. I’m happy that I’m studying architecture at university now. All the people are kinda sexually fluid in their own way, so that’s awesome. And one of the loudest/popular girls is a butch lesbian. So therefore it’s a lot easier for a shy femmy lesbian like me to be out.
    Hope I made sense

  26. 0

    Oh boy! I had a fun one the other day. I had just gotten back from a weekend at Atl pride and ran into some acquaintances at the grocery store.

    Parties: Stefan (my best friend, gay), Josh, Mark

    Josh (to me): Nice blazer! And short hair. You always have the best hair cuts.
    Me: Thanks.
    Josh (to Mark): So anyway, I think we should fight to get married. Not coz we’re gay or anything, but so you can get instate tuition. How long do we have to stay married in order to get residency?
    Stefan: Just three months, then you can get an annulment.
    Mark: Just like that?
    Stefan: Well, either you have to have cheated on your wife, you wife has to have cheated on you, or you have never consummated the marriage.
    Mark: What if you cheat on your wife with a man?
    Stefan: I believe that counts as cheating.
    Mark: But I bet it doesn’t count if your wife cheats on you with a woman.
    Josh: Yeah, that’d just be hot. I’d be like, “just invite me next time.”
    Me: Scissoring.
    Stefan: [snorts]
    Josh: What?
    Me: What? I’m gonna go find the tofu.

  27. 0

    Something really similar happened to me recently at a wedding. I actually wrote a blog post on it if you want the whole story, but here’s the rundown. We were talking about schools with some other people at our table:

    Guy: Oh yeah, Amanda goes to that dyke school, Notre Dame.
    *laughter*
    Guy: And her sister went there too. She even played softball!
    *his girlfriend tries to stop him*
    Guy: Yeah, but it’s OK. She’s married to a man now, which is good.

    Let’s just say all of us were pissed.

  28. 0

    Just today I had a (very brief) training on giving feedback to folks you work with. The big takeaway message was the importance of naming your feelings, whether positive or negative, and calmly, directly addressing the person you have an issue with. It was framed in a retrospective manner (At the meeting yesterday, when you said this…) but with practice it could be applied to an in-the-moment situation.

    When I’m with folks who make problematic remarks, I too quickly become red-in-the-face-sweaty-pissed. It feels awesome to drop something like “that makes me feel really sad/upset/uncomfortable.” Generally a dialogue is opened and some minds are changed.

    Confrontation is awkward and messy, but necessary for one’s sanity. Practice strong communication and asserting your feelings. You’ll likely get some backlash, but I’d take that over the sucky feeling of not standing up for myself and my community any day.

    I’m an angry dyke? Too vocal? Too opinionated? A bitch?

    Deal with it.

  29. 0

    “ADM” could well be forgiven for calling your gender studies teacher a dyke – she obviously meant “dike” – an embankment for preventing flooding along a river. In England, we call people this ALL THE TIME.

  30. 0

    “Not to mention that stereotypes fall apart when people realize that you’re gay even when you’re wearing a skirt.”

    What if you’re not? I can’t friggin’ remember the last time I wore a skirt.

    Anyway, I gotta say, WHY are people afraid of being seen as an “angry feminist”? Quite frankly I have never met this proverbial “angry feminist” that is so annoying and angry and whatnot. Most people who call people “angry feminists” are sexist bastards. I’ve really met very few people who have an intelligent reason for hating on feminists of any kind.

    There’s nothing wrong with making people uncomfortable because you speak the truth…there have been various times when I’ve been made to feel uncomfortable by others who have felt the need to correct my language or thinking (like when I said communism was the same as fascism to a bunch of a kids in Students for a Democratic Society. lulz much?). The reason people get angry or uncomfortable in these situations is simply because they feel they are being judged or hated on when they get “called out”. I think the key to pointing out homophobic language and behavior is to let people know that you still accept them and feel they are worthy of your time even if they make mistakes sometimes, and that really you are just interested in an intelligent conversation with them about the issues surrounding what they said, and not just interested in “schooling” them.

    Maybe this is the difference between an angry feminist and a not angry feminist…thankfully I have met very few of the angry variety :).

    • 0

      go women not in skirts!

      that sentence was written in a fit of rage after someone told me that i didn’t look gay and then said that if i just looked gayer, people wouldn’t say homophobic things in front of me and then i wouldn’t be angry. and there are just too many things wrong with that to even start to comment on it.

  31. 0

    Laura and co.,

    For my own sanity, I try not to pick battles with every schmo that says something idiotic. It takes up too much of my energy. However, if I’m going to be around the offending party on a regular basis, I will “call them out” as gently as possible. I had to play this game when abroad in France, so I can relate for sure.

    I’ve found that people are so afraid of being called sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. [because of appearances] that they fail to question their own behavior. Ignorance is a defense mechanism. Until these people can take a long hard honest look at themselves, real change is unlikely. You can train them to shut up, but not to think.

    As for being an “angry feminist” or a “bitch”, I embrace both. I like the word “bitch” in particular. I think that’s the word somebody uses to describe an unrelenting hard-ass, tough as nails woman that doesn’t take crap. Yes I am. Thank you.

    Good luck in Italy!

  32. 0

    This was really funny, sad, but funny.

    I try very hard not to pick battles but I cannot stand ignorance, stereotypes and inaccurate preconceived notions. So when it arises and it often does, I say something. I have too. I have gotten in heated arguments its SO frustrating.

    People, mainly guys, often accuse me of being gay for caring so much or knowing so much and I tell them just because I am not an obstinate idiot doesn’t make me gay.

  33. 0

    I love this so much. I’m a 14 years old/pansexual/genderqueer/feminist and holy crap I feel like by the end of the day it’s impossible to even remember all of the homophobic and sexist b.s. I’ve heard over the course of the day. Actually, I wrote about talking back on my feminist blog here

    http://rabbitthefeminist.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/rabbit-does-more-than-fume/

    It’s really inspiring to hear other people’s stories of speaking out! I am really shy so I have a hard time saying anything back. But it’s awesome just knowing other people hear this and mentally bang their head against a wall.

  34. 0

    Helpful!
    also frustrating to remember how prevalent these types of conversations are still, everywhere.
    i hear it even at my urrbody-friendly school

    but the Georgia Nicolson references? That I can approve of 🙂

  35. 0

    Ouch… I’ve just read your view about Spain. Well, I’m from Spain, and I wanted to say a few things:

    1) Camps won again. It seems that people from Valencia enjoy being robbed. u_u

    2) Next year the PP will probably win the general elections. The PP candidate, Rajoy, has just said that one of the things he wants to change right away is the fact that gay and lesbians can marry. u_u

    Not so wonderful here anymore, it seems… u_u

    • 0

      I’ve read it just know also. I’m also from Spain
      Next elections, Rajoy is probably going to win, but i have faith that even though he wants to change the law so gay can’t marry, he won’t be able because of all the oposition he’ll find. That’s what I think and hope. ^^

  36. 0

    For the record, ADM is lying her ass off.

    “Dyke” means exactly the same in the UK and Republic of Ireland as it does in the USA, and probably every country including the Netherlands where it may also mean a levee, a natural or artificial slope or wall to regulate water levels. Into which I will happily stick my fingers. Amen.

    • 0

      Yeah, for some reason here in London, the vast majority of middle-class kids are using “dyke” and “fag” as insults for each other. These are people who claim “I’m all for gay rights and gay marriage and wtf is up with that homophobe” yet they’d happily say “ah, you’re such as dyke!” to each other. It’s truly baffling.

  37. 0

    1. I’m from a Spanish village which is basically still in the Middle Ages BUT, once a year in Carnival, each man (no matter how machista) dresses in drag. It is EPIC.
    2. I go to a girls’ school, and it is quite shocking how ignorant my classmates are. I genuinely received a Facebook message from a friend: “OMG our school is soooo lame, did u kno our uniform is the same colours as the suffragette movement?? I kno we’re women, but no need to go all feminist!!!”. I calmly replied that there’s nothing wrong with feminism, and I received a lovely “HI I’M [my name] AND I HATE MEN” as a reply. Charming.
    3. My favourite General Schoolgirl Ignorance is aimed at my Religious Studies teacher, who (rumour has it) is a lesbian. Of course my dear classmates, who aren’t patronising towards LGBTQ people or anything (God forbid) often comment that “It’s really brave of her to wear trousers in a girls’ school, it’s cool she’s not ashamed to show that she’s gay.” I’m sorry, was a rainbow flag branded on her forehead? No? Then how the f*ck is she openly gay?! She’s never even mentioned it! And “ashamed”?! *no comment*

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