Friday, March 24, 2006

I know it’s only words, but...

Does anyone else see a problem with the increasing use of the descriptive phrase ‘same-sex attracted’?

It just comes across as a means of avoiding using words like gay, homosexual, queer, lesbian, dyke, poof, etc.

Sure, these can be confronting words, given they are so strongly overlaid with negative connotations in general use. And for many people I’m sure it is less scary to use what would appear to be a value-neutral adjective rather than identifying with a whole ‘category’, ‘label’ or ‘type’ of person.

I don’t think I’m being overly defensive when I venture that avoiding using the established terminology just because of existing negative connotations is a kind of surrender (not that I could claim a spotless record of defiance and non-conformity anyway).

What makes me particularly uneasy about it is the possibility that the phrase is being used (even if subconciously) to try and placate, or avoid stirring up, people who might take offence at a bold declaration of a homosexual identity.

I guess there is always that argument that ‘queer’ is an identity, whereas ‘same-sex attracted’ is just an attribute. I’m a bit ambivalent on that one, because it still seems like avoidance to me.

It’s as if by using the self-descriptor ‘same sex attracted’ one is trying not to scare other people:

“Oh don’t worry, I’m not a fag or anything. I’m just same-sex attracted.”

And in this hypothetical conversation, let’s take a look at exactly who it is you are compromising yourself for? Who is it that you are worried about offending? People with latent homophobic tendencies. These people are not worth the bother, I say.

Cop. Out.

Which is not the same as a gay cop, but I just can't resist a visual gag.


bec said...

I totally agree with you, on this one. You don't see straight people having to walk around going 'oh, i'm not a hetero, im just opposite sex attracted'

It's ridiculous. I understand the desire to maybe avoid labels, but that's going way too far.

I'm definitely same sex attracted. Otherwise known as being a homo! Although, that image nearly made me change my mind.

Tempest said...

Yup you've hit it on the head C.S.H. If someone uses the old "Same-sex-attracted" line it means for some reason or another they are pussyfooting around the issue and obviously don't feel comfortable with themselves.

It brought to my mind a scene out of tales of the city (I think) where they are on a bus and some hoods get on and start making fag jokes and ask if tehre are any on the bus and one fo the characters says "here" and it starts a wave of people saying "here" "here" etc....

We just all have to stand up and say "Yup I'm queer" (I'll avoid the we're here part of it)


Sam said...

Methinks you have a specific, somewhat infamous Melburnian "same-sex attracted" blogger in mind when posting this?

JahTeh said...

What about straight me who doesn't know whether any of the other tags might offend?

This doesn't apply to Sam. I regularly call him everything.

Enny said...

I'm with jatteh (on the first bit - not so much the second bit!)

Enny said...

sh!t typo - jahteh, sorry!

comicstriphero said...

Well jahteh, you can call me comicstriphero.

Oh, dear, I'm ever so funny.

Sorry. No, seriously, I don't know.

I guess I was really only passing comment on the politics of self-naming.

If you're really stuck, I guess you could always just ask whoever it is how they like to describe themselves.

As a general rule of thumb, there are no rules and in my experience, everyone has a different preference.

Easy, huh!

But Sam - no, I didn't actually have him in mind. In fact, I often try not to have in mind...

TLA said...

I have nothing sage to add: I just wanted to say "eew" about the Cop-In-Shorts' puny legs. The only way that photo could be funnier is if it was full length and showed that he was wearing sandals and socks.

Then he could have a second career as a high school maths teacher.