Two straight-presenting black men are having lunch next to me in Studio City. They keep using the word “faggot” to describe a mutual friend who, as far as I can discern, is acting lame this weekend and not coming to a party with them because he wants to spend time with his girlfriend.
You know, just like a faggot does.
I was going to use this post to make a provocative joke about how I’m going to use the “n” word with impunity from now on, but that’s not actually how I feel. I want the n word to be off limits. I want people to err on the side of sensitivity when they’re in public, at the very least. I’d like to live in a world where using words like faggot, cunt, trannie, dyke carry the same risk as using the n word offhandedly. I don’t live anywhere near that world, and I live in an historic mansion in the Hollywood hills.
Sometimes, I call it out. I’ll ask, in my requisite right-but-annoying tone, can we please keep the bigoted language to a minimum? Today, however, I’m not in the mood to start an altercation. I don’t need to be the 40 year old man yelling at college aged kids. I mean, it’s a crowded cafe. There’s a diverse swath of people eating here. Everyone can hear these guys throwing the word faggot around and nobody is going to say anything.
I’m going to take that mute, indignant anger, put it on Facebook, and continue with my day. Later I’ll perform an intake session with a 16 year old probationary foster youth. A new client for my social work job. Part of my intake questionnaire will be to ask if the youth needs LGBT resources. I’m bracing myself for the inevitable answer of “I don’t need any faggot shit,” or some variation of that. It happens often in this line of work. I’m servicing underprivileged teenagers-wards of the state. They are not even a little bit PC. They will say faggot and not even apologize when you ask them to stop. Indeed, they will also not even stop.
I did, however, make eye contact with a scruffy person sitting here in the same cafe. They’re wearing a mesh top and a cute pencil skirt. Our eye contact seemed to convey the mutual pain of having to hear the word faggot, unchallenged, in public, in Southern California, in 2017. Who knows? Maybe the eye contact just meant eye contact? I did the only thing I could think to do: on the way to the restroom I mentioned I liked their skirt. They seemed appreciative of the compliment. They smiled. It was a nice moment.
The black dudes have moved on to a new subject – bitches. It also sounds like they’re talking about how some bitches can’t handle their Instagram branding. “This bitch stupid! She gonna try to be cat famous with this kinda branding??” Scintillating stuff.
Later this afternoon I’ll come home and take a nap before heading down to Silverlake to tend bar at a dance party. College students blowing mom and dads money and learning how to hit on each other. If there’s time between social work, napping, and tending bar, I might unpack my knapsack and play with all my white male privilege. But, probably not. It’s not even noon yet and the day’s already proving to be exhausting.
Sure do hope that bitch on Instagram becomes cat famous, though – despite her janked-out branding. If that can happen, if just one person in this equation can rise above the scrum and rabble to join the lucrative ranks of Instagram cat fame, it will prove to be a shining beacon of hope in an otherwise dark world.