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Facebook is a great place to be reminded of people you had happily forgotten. For example, I recently received a message from this girl I’d known years and years ago. (Like, when I was 8 years old) She’d apparently gone on a friend-anybody-I-remember-talking-to rampage and had decided to “reconnect” with me. Fair enough.
She asks me about how I’m doing, what I’d been up to, and what I was reading. It just so happened that I’d visited my parents the previous day and flipped through a copy of Martha Stewart Living my mom had left out. There was an image in the magazine of two kids with plaster masks playing in the woods. I have fantastic memories of tromping through the woods with my sister as kids.
So I mentioned this to my new Facebook friend-finder and was taken aback by her response:
She: Umm Martha Stewart?? masks??? are you gay?
Note: I don’t know about Martha Stewart, but masks have a long tradition of use by heterosexual males.
Me: I have a very low tolerance for such questions. I haven’t asked you about your sexuality in any way, shape, or form. Why bring it up? If I were gay, I’d be offended that you used “gay” in a pejorative sense. As it is, I’m just fatigued by the question because I can’t respond with a question in the same vein without being incredibly inappropriate. Savvy?
As to what I meant with, “respond with questions in the same vein…” A question like, “Are you gay?” is, to me, very weighty. I put it in the same category as questions like, “Do you have trouble reaching orgasm?” It’s not a question one asks random people without a lot of previous interaction and certainly is not a question to be asked in jest.
She (part I): I’m so sorry. I never meant to offend you. I tease some of my guy friends sometimes when they like things that aren’t so normally guy things (Martha Stewart,masks,etc) but never in a derogatory way. Just teasing, I guess now I will think about how it could effect other people that I don’t know so well.
If I were gay, I’m sure I’d already be accustomed to such short-sighted bias. But I’m not so I found her response infuriating.
She teases guys for liking things outside stereotypical male fascinations? Okay. I understand why she does that. I grew up in the same sort of ultra-conservative household with very strict gender roles. It was just a mistake and she’s going to think about the things she says in the future. Excellent. That’s progress!
But it wasn’t progress. Her conclusion had an entirely different tone:
She (Part II): And by the way just so you don’t think I have something against gays, the guy that does my hair is gay, I think he’s very nice and I don’t condemn him for it. Quite frankly I chose him already knowing he was. I never meant it as any big question regarding your sexuality but even if it was true I would think that having made that decision you would be fully accepting it and not something that you would upset to be asked.
So now it’s up to the recipient of the biased remarks to happily accept them as part of the package? Classy. I hope her stylist shaves her head the next time she goes in for a trim.
What would you say to her? I’m thinking I’ll send her a reply sometime this week.
Live ferociously… and don’t let your friends get away with saying stupidly biased things!