in which i reach a breaking point (addressing casual homophobia, trade school edition – part 3)

(want more on casual homophobia at trade school? see part 1 and part 2)

so yeah, last week i reached a breaking point with school, which unhappily coincided with having two puppies demanding attention and 4 am pee-trips to the great outdoors.

not enough sleep + 10 weeks of constant homophobic submersion = one fucking mad fg

the coursework itself is still great: i’m not racing ahead anymore but still keeping pace, and mostly enjoying the assignments. on a personal level, i also enjoy most of my classmates: i crack jokes, they laugh, i am redeemed for years of social exclusion in elementary school, we all win.

HOWEVER. every single fucking day, these classmates have declared things they hate to be “gay”, and insulted one another with “fag” or “homo” or even “fudgepacker”. WTF, PEOPLE???

i was going to write here all about my amazing success with calling classmates on their bullshit, but i couldn’t keep up. after the initial good interactions (of which i am happy to report there were several), i started getting a helluva lot of the following responses:

“i didn’t know you were gay.”

“it’s just that i always hear that sort of talk around me.”

“some of my best friends are gay and they don’t mind when i say that.”

“i didn’t know you’d hear me.”

double-yew tee eff. yeah, i realize that you’re uncomfortable cuz i’ve just pointed out that you’re behaving like a bigot, but please don’t try to foist responsibility for that bullshit onto somebody else.

like i said, i couldn’t keep up, and it was very very very wearing. especially since no one else ever says anything: they will chat with me during breaks, they will ask for my help on assignments, they will share jokes with me, but not a single one will tell another student to lay off the anti-gay comments.

so last thursday i talked to one of the supervisors, and basically had a mini-meltdown in her office. her focus was on making sure that i’d be able to succeed in the program, and so she offered to arrange a study space for me in the library: thanks, but no thanks. i *like* being in the classroom, i just don’t like being subjected to hate speech. besides, i told her, that wouldn’t change anything: these people need to know that queers are EVERYWHERE (whether you recognize us or not!) and they be told that it is unacceptable to talk the way they do, and they need to hear it from someone with authority.

on friday i was absent, because i was en route to the mainland, to rock out at the photovoltaics course.

the supervisor said that she’d talk to the whole program at morning roll-call that day, and make it clear that using homophobic language is grounds for dismissal.

not sure how it went, but today was a good day at school: people didn’t treat me any different, and i also didn’t hear any of the usual ear-pollution. if this keeps up, if these people learn that homophobia is unacceptable AND that queers are everyday classmates/coworkers/neighbours/etc. WHO WILL NOT SIMPLY SHUT UP AND DISAPPEAR, well then… i think we might just stand a fighting chance.

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2 responses to “in which i reach a breaking point (addressing casual homophobia, trade school edition – part 3)

  1. My dearest Simplemente Una Gay,

    Am I ever glad you aren’t going to shut up and disappear!

    When I was about 15, I had a row with 3 missionary classmates (whose parents had come to the African country of our residence to save its people).
    They said some idiotic shit (smilingly!) about the continent being worthless if it wasn’t for Jesus, foreign aid and foreigners; that Africans were ill-equipped to care for themselves and that it was a waste of time: “going down the toilet” to be exact. I said some horrible shit about white Christians. I remember getting thrown out of class because I had been so “harsh” with them.

    I have since always thought that my reaction was antagonistic and tactless, definitely not something that would want them to revisit their racist Judaeo-Christian elitism.

    Then, 4 years ago one of the classmates tracked down my address and wrote to me that the “conversation” had remained with her and changed her outlook on things. She thanked me.

    I think the reasons for her attitude shift are more complex that just me and my opinionated, arrogant teenager self, but nonetheless, something happened that day to the both of us.

    It took her almost a decade to formulate her feelings and assign that day and our interaction as a turning point.

    I know that your interactions will produce similar shifts in some of your classmates.
    I hope they will let you know down the road that you changed them. I know your reservations about being someone else’s educational experience, but it can be more than that. It could be like a chemical reaction in which two compounds react to form two different compounds.

    Anyway…

    Simplemente Una Mujer

    • feralgeographer

      dearest s.u.m.,

      thank you for sharing, and for those incredibly precious remnants of your opinionated, arrogant teenager self that make you so fucking wonderful!

      i hope the shifts will happen; as cynical and mean as i can be, i am always at my core very much an optimist.

      ps. i love “simplemente una gay”! though i guess the specific term would be “simplemente una lesbiandad”, or is that the act, ie. “lesbianism”? in any case, we all know that i prefer queer over lesbian… i wonder what the colloquial word for queer is in spanish? the word reference forums seem to make it out to be too political a word…

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