The other F word

Today I got called a “faggot”

It was quite unsettling, yet it didn’t really bother me because I really don’t think the person who called me that meant it. But I’m not sure. I texted Thumper and Axel to ask their opinions and both were a bit taken a bit aback by it, but I think my nonchalantness may have tempered the expected response.

Now, hours later sitting in a big blue leather seat flying through some stormy looking clouds, I am pissed off because, that just shouldn’t happen, but it did, and in a professional environment.

Here’s the story. Today I was at an a very well known 200 year old institution north of New York that has seen its share of scandal through the years. I am a regular consultant there and have been there enough times through the years that I have gotten to know some of the  staff who I don’t work with specifically. So, when I got there today I was greeted by a man who I have not seen in years and he asked for my email address after we chatted a bit and caught up on life and baseball (thank you again, Thumper). I handed him a business card since it had been a few years since I had given him one and he started looking at me quizzically.

Now, as you may or may not know, when the first SCOTUS ruling happened in 2013, Axel and I got legally married on our anniversary (which happens to be his birthday) (which happens to be this weekend) (which happens to mark 18 years) ( I happen to be taking him to Miami/South Beach for dinner tomorrow and a Saturday play date) (it happens that mileage and points are my one career luxury).

For about 250 different reasons, the most compelling of which was that my mother thought it was “only appropriate”, Axel and I wanted to have the same last name, you know, like all the popular straight couples do. I had a long name with lots of vowels. He had a short name that was kinda cool yet not too common. We tried half and half. We tried adding a hyphen. We tried creating something new. But, in the end, his name just sounded good with my actual first name, so I changed my legal last name, a process that is awful for anyone, but for a man in the South it is, or hopefully WAS, a hassle that needed court rulings and lots of signatures. Adding to this, I had about 20 plus years of doing what it is that I do, so I had to essentially come out to every client I had, but luckily had the blessing of my bosses that I could tell them to “fuck off” if I had any issue because we didn’t want them as a client (it was a good year and luckily I never had a single issue).

So,back to this morning.

It’s been a few years now and most of my clients and coworkers just know me as the married me with the short name and don’t think twice about it. Hell, even I have reached a point where I can answer to it without giggling a bit, so I just don’t think about it. Then, this morning as I handed him my card, he said, “wait, this is not you. Did you change your name or something?” To which I replied a simple “yes, when I got married a few years ago I decided to change mine”. I don’t go into the dribble of who I married, who I fuck, etc, I just simply leave it at that. So, that was that and then he said, “huh, I didn’t know you were a faggot. Well, good for you and I hope marriage treats you well” and then he went about his day and I went about mine walking away a bit puzzled, maybe hurt, maybe not. I had work to do and went to do it.

So, a bit later I was texting with Thump about this,that and Josh Duggar, when I just casually thought to say, “oh, guess what, I got called…”. He responded with something akin to “what the fuck?” with a “who do I need to come hurt?” tone and I played it off a bit in the way I used to forgive my grandmother for saying “colored”, because during her life that was all she knew.
But this man wasn’t too old, was, based on where he worked, fairly well educated and exposed to many types of people, and as I sit here now I can’t forgive him as easily as I did this afternoon, though I can’t say I hate him either.

It’s funny, I think I had a fucking real life commenter from this blog or Thumper’s right there in front of me because he did the exact same things some of the nasty people here have done by insulting in the first sentence followed by a nice expression in the second one. Since the first time Amy in Alabama lit up my comments with hate almost a year ago, I have always wondered what I would do if I ever had the chance to meet one of those people in real life and, I’ll be damned, I did and didn’t even realize it.

Now, to be fair to me, he did not start out with “I’ve been reading your boyfriend’s posts for years…” like 90 percent of them do. If he had, I would like to think I would have clued in, but I blew my chance, though, it wasn’t a place I would have caused a scene anyway.

But, like many of the comments we have gotten, I am confused by the hate followed by the happy. Do these people do this regularly in life with other things too? Should we try it? I’m currently thinking of all the muggle variations we could give back like:

“you look great, even with the extra weight”,

“wow you have aged, but you do it well”,

“your child is really stupid, but she’s so pretty”, or

“I’ve seen your sinning pictures on the Internet, but boy you ride that dildo quite well”

Actually, I have done this in my life before and I remember it being therapeutic, because a friend of my mother’s saw me once after awhile and said “wow, Drew, you are really bald” and I remember in a split second coming back at her with “wow, Helen, you sure are old” while my mother laughed like she was proud of the smart assed son she raised. It felt great and is still something I think about many, many years later.

All this, but no answers here and I will likely never know whether Mr. Man was being nice to me or judging me. I want to think he had a stroke or just didn’t catch himself in time, like when I catch myself wanting to say “Oriental”. I’m not going to worry about it either because it’s over and I am not sure I would have made the situation any better had I scolded him. I just don’t think he knew what damage a word like that can do and, if he had to use it, I am glad he did on me versus one of the younger people who are still fragile enough to let that get into their head.

So, I am going to forgive him and let it go, however, I do hope someone in his world calls him fat and old this weekend.

12 thoughts on “The other F word

  1. Karma will come around. I couldn’t get past the first line. It took me a few times. That shouldn’t have happened and especially not at work. I’m not sure I would have held my tongue. Forgiveness is best.

    Hope your anniversary is a great one!!! Living well is always the best revenge.

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  2. First, yesterday was not a great day to be flying. I sat on a metal tube in Philadelphia for an hour past our scheduled departure due to storms along our route before finally getting rerouted. Barely made my connection in the Motor City (had 7 minutes to go 30 gates). YES, airline miles and hotel points are the one career luxury that makes travel worth it…otherwise…it wouldn’t be.

    As for the fat old guy, as my Mom would have said “Bless his heart.” Growing up and living in the South you know that phrase is a polite way to say “you are a true ididot” or something along those lines. It never ceases to amaze me what people let come out of their mouth. I have to constantly remind my oldest son to engage his brain before he says something. I applaud you for living your life, loving who you want to love, and being the better man in this situation.

    On a professional note, how does one break in to the consulting business? Since leaving corporate America 4 years ago I have been trying to get a consulting gig. Any insights? Thanks!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, I think we may have been on the same flights last night – mad dash in DTW.

      Thank you for the response and for reminding your son to think 🙂

      Email me at the link about and we can talk about the other stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it’s all about intent. This dude clearly didn’t understand what he was saying probably because he’s been saying it all his life and finds it synonymous with “gay” (even though it’s not). He should learn a new word but I’d probably give him a pass.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do agree with you because there was nothing in his facial expressions that said anything other than “huh, a new fact about Drew”. I just regret not taking advantage of a teachable moment.

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  4. I do agree that intent is important. It sounds like he said it out of ignorance rather than malice. But honestly, that still doesn’t fly with me in 2015. Educated people should know not to use the word unless it’s in situations we talked about on Twitter.

    We’re close to the same age so I’m sure you grew up hearing retard/retarded as a playground slur. It’s still done regularly today by adults and kids. I used to cringe (and silently judge) every time a friend called herself retarded for doing something stupid. My hair stylist used to say ‘that’s so retarded’ about pretty much anything she thought was ridiculous.

    My son has Asperger’s. He’s very high functioning and in all general education classes. He does get extra support in class, which gets him labeled as a ‘tard by other kids. Before it started happening to my him, I never said anything. Once he started being hurt by it, I felt the need to start pointing out how inappropriate it is to people. I am always kind; I simply gently point out how hurtful that word is to a lot of people. When they respond that they’re only calling themselves retarded (because inevitably some do), I ask what they mean by it. The response is always that they did something stupid or dumb. Usually the lightbulb goes off then.

    I realize this is a different case, but it’s very powerful for my son to see me gently educate people about the word. It has empowered him to actually start doing the same at times. Some people really don’t know what they’re saying.

    This is my ridiculously long way of saying that’s ok, in fact it’s good, to educate people in a kind way that the word is inappropriate in normal conversation. Now if he were truly homophobic, you’re not going to change his mind so discretion is always good. But if he’s truly just using the word because he always has, then nudging him away from it can actually be a really kind thing to do. Someday he might say it to someone much less gracious than you with actual consequences.

    I’ll shut up now. 🙂

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  5. Faggot, huh?. Maybe he meant it in a casual, endearing way?

    I’m only half kidding. Over the years I’ve met a lot of people who are ambivalently racist, homophobic, or otherwise seemingly prejudiced. I saw “seemingly” because they use terms that I haven’t heard since the 1970s, but their actions are always above suspicion. I belong to a group that has a few older guys who I’ve heard make cringe-worthy gay jokes and comments, but when actually associating with other guys who are gay, I’ve never seen them treat anyone with anything other than respect and courtesy, and they’ll often head out to the sports bar and have a beer together.

    I’m not making excuses for the guy. I guess I’m just saying that people be crazy, yo.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Since I am Bible Belt southern I am going with “bless his heart!” And you are a better person than me because I just have no tolerance for this word or the use of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I get the intent argument. I get that people have used the term all of their lives. It still isn’t an excuse. It’s a disgusting term and shouldn’t be used by anyone. You definitely took the high road. I wouldn’t have been able to do the same, I’m afraid.

    Happy Anniversary! Have a great time.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “I just don’t think he knew what damage a word like that can do….”

    How? How is it possible, if he is surrounded by educated people, and is educated himself, how could he not know? The way some people desperately, actively cling to their ignorance is baffling to me.

    But you’re right, it does no good to hang on to it. Better to let it go and forgive him. But man, I hope someone says both of the first two muggle variations you listed to him this weekend.

    Happy anniversary!

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  9. > your child is really stupid, but she’s so pretty

    I was a bit shocked to see that one in there. You’d be lashing out at the child, not the parent. It plays right to the misogynist gender trope that women are to be pretty, and their smarts don’t matter. It’d be even more hurtful if the child is of low intelligence: Something they can’t do anything about.

    Sure, it’s a hypothetical nasty-gram you came up with while riffing on nasty-grams on your blog, not something you actually say. Still, how’d that end up in the list? There might be an underlying attitude there somewhere.

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