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Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda Been Gayer

Today, while talking with coworkers about some recent good fortune, I threw my hands above my head and voiced excitement as I might, but probably wouldn’t, do in public. I may or may not have exclaimed, “Woo!”

One of them leaned into me, touched my arm, and said, “Could that have been any gayer?” She smiled, apparently quite pleased with herself.

I stopped, stunned, my lips forming the silent syllable, “Wha-?!”

There are some people in my life who can say something like this and I don’t blink an eye or probably even notice. They know me well. They defend me, so they’re allow to give me shit. This person doesn’t know me well. She may have gay friends, but I am not one of them. We don’t divulge our greatest hopes and fears by cell phone at all hours of the day. I am not the Rupert Everett to her Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding.

The thing she said is not horrible. Her presumptuousness, the familiarity, bothers me more than anything. If I knew her deeply, the comment would have skimmed the surface of my consciousness. But because we’re really just acquaintances, the words found their way in and went deep. Oh gawd, my life is an after-school special.

It doesn’t help that the comment was a gender slap: Men aren’t supposed to show excitement, and we sure ain’t supposed to exclaim, “Woo!” Unless we do it ironically, mocking the possibility that we might have had an unapproved emotion.

What really bothers me–so much so that I feel compelled to process it via blog and drag you into it–is that I didn’t say or do something in the moment. I must have really been off my game. I should have given her a disapproving look (I’m so good at those). Something like, “Please tell me you didn’t just say that out loud.”

Better yet, I should have said, “Gayer? You know it, girlina!” Then I could’ve cut loose, reading her beads in a flurry of snaps.

I. Am. So. Fierce. When I let myself be.

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One Response

  1. You’re fierce and funny, in a pointed way.

    Sometimes when I am with friends, gay and nongay, and we’re talking and laughing and feeling loose, one of the nongay women might say to one of the gay women, “You’re such a dyke!” Inside, I cringe. Even though everyone in that crowd is a close friend, it feels like a big overstepping of bounds to me. Disrespectful. Also, what does it mean to be a dyke? Isn’t such a remark referring to a stereotype?

    I do not like when traits are assigned to stereotypes. We should all be permitted — invited — to be ourselves, without feeling as though we are performing a role for our audiences.

    Your post raises the larger, important, question: What are the rights of allies? I wholeheartedly agree that your coworker had no right to speak as she did, although is it simply that she doesn’t know you well enough, or is it something bigger than that?

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