This Gaymer’s Story

This Gaymer’s Story

Because it needs to be said, I only speak for myself. Trigger warnings for suicidal thoughts, sexual violence, homophobia, child abuse, life.

I made the mistake. The mistake I warn others of not doing. I read the comments. In case you haven’t heard, Blizzard made a rather poor decision in its choice of how to close BlizzCon. The comments are as to be expected. Largely predicated on academic reasons or “my gay friends/I’m gay/I’m straight and it doesn’t offend me.”

Let’s make this personal.

It starts around the age I was nine. I realised I liked boys. My first crush was in the PASS program with me (Program for Academically Superior Students), and I could not get him out of my head. Nothing sexual, but just imagining hugging him, marrying him, etc.

Then middle school began. I had always been a rather odd one in whatever society I found myself. At first it was my German accent, then my not being masculine enough by American standards, then my lack of interest in sports, my generally nerdery, my intelligence, my liking games, etc. It also became getting called fag or gay every week through middle school. It became administrators taking me aside and telling me I was odd. It became teachers sitting down with my mother and telling her they were worried I was ‘immoral,’ which was code for not fitting into mainstream thought and probably queer.

During this time, from the time I was 10 until I was almost 15, I was also being raped and molested almost every other week. I’ll let you do the maths, but suffice it to say, I began having serious questions about myself, my sexuality and guilting myself for sometimes enjoying the physical pleasure even while my mind loathed everything that was happening to me. I was also coming to terms with being gay.

But! Molestor/rapist was caught! Yay! He was out of my life (not really, he only exited my life this past year when I learned he was dead and no longer stalking me on social networks)!

I began coming out to friends at this point, when I had just entered high school. Not many, but here and there. It was also at this time that I had to deal with a court process that would drag on for five years. Five years of being threatened by the DA of Clarksville, Tennessee, being told because of my age, I wasn’t quite as important to this case (rapist had raped other children), and various juries of varying sorts looking at me like I was a freak. To this day I am more likely to be triggered by reading stories of juries being judgmental toward victims than I am towards rape itself (which is my experience, and not to be ascribed to others). This time is known as when Denis really hated himself, thought himself a whore, had both the FBI and Clarksville Sheriff’s office tell him he was dirty, and was being tested for STIs along with HIV/AIDS, because he didn’t have enough to deal with being a gay teenager.

During this time I also dealt with school administrators, this time high school, calling my mother about ‘concerns.’ Then there was my father finding out about this and threatening to disown me if I ever ended up being gay (while my mother let me know fiercely that she was a fruit fly when she was young, and I would always be supported). Don’t forget the constant yelling down various hallways, “FAG! QUEER! HOMO!” Also, passing cars. I have dealt with passing cars calling me various anti-gay slurs since I was fourteen.

Thankfully, I never experienced any immediate physical threats during high school. This was likely partly due to the fact that once I stopped being raped all the time, I got very angry. Very, very angry. People generally thought I was crazy and that to involve themselves in an altercation with me would result in me not having any qualms about hurting them quite a bit.

Therefore, when college came around, I was grateful for the chance to leave Clarksville, TN. I would get to be in a liberal place! I might have a boyfriend! I might not have to be worried about being openly gay! If that was the case, I’m still not sure why I chose Wabash College (answer: scholarship money for creative writing and academics).

What resulted at Wabash was immediately being out and once again hearing the usual: “FAG! QUEER! HOMO!” Y’know, the usual. This was my rebellious phase. I yelled back, I gave the middle finger, I and a friend printed off bumper stickers that stated, “FAGGOT is a dirty word” and plastered them all over campus. Yet every time I put that sticker on my door? It was taken down.

Apparently I was a faggot, but daring to confront that language was not something I was allowed to do. Instead, some kind chaps decided to write FAGGOT in permanent marker on my door. Because I was visiting with a friend at Oberlin, I was not there that weekend, and by the time I came back, my good friends, and my RA, made sure the offending evidence was gone from my door, having sanded it off. Every time I now entered my room I saw a sanded off portion of the door, reminding me what some people thought of me and my personal space.

That still didn’t stop the harassing phone calls at 2am, though. Now, however, I typically only ever heard faggot, queer or homo muttered under peoples’ breaths. It was understood I was confrontational. It was understood I was not going away.

Graduation was an amusing affair, largely because I had no idea what was in my future. I was off to Chicago and I finally thought I would have the life I dreamed of: a steady boyfriend, dating options, and being accepted. Come to find out, as a gay gamer who was generally nerdy, I wasn’t exactly popular in the gay community. Oh well, I shrugged, maybe I’ll find a group of gaymers somewhere. Over the years I slowly did-that or gay people who didn’t ostracize me for liking games.

Unfortunately, it was during this time that I was also coming home one evening and one of those passing cars happened by. “FAGGOT! QUEER! HOMO!” My response was a rather tired middle finger and shrug. Their response was to quickly turn around their car, jump out, and beat me into the sidewalk. I wasn’t seriously injured, though I did have a concussion, and still have scars on my hands and knees.

Whereas faggot was a word that annoyed me before, now it became very, incredibly emotional. Thinking on that night is still painful. I had built an armour of anger strong enough that the words only kept adding plate after plate, scale after scale, chain after chain. Words followed by that action suddenly turned all of that to nothing.

What was the point of this story?

Dear fellow gamers, I am tired of explaining this to you. I wrote this out so that you can stop saying I am seeking special treatment. I wrote this out so that you could connect it to an actual experience, not some academic exercise of “this is now a general insult.” You do not get to claim the insult so that you can go use it however you wish. Let me repeat: you do not get to reclaim this word that way. The assumption that language changes is one trotted out by people who get to make those changes, which is typically people in power, or those privileged. I am not letting you change that word on me.

Society has used that word on me since I was eleven years old in New Providence Middle School. Society allowed that word to be thrown at my back while I walked the halls of both Northwest and Clarksville High Schools. Society encouraged those college men who decided I could not reclaim it, but they could smear it on my door. Society gave strength to and encouraged those men who jumped out of a car and beat me for my sexuality.

When you say I am asking people to be too politically correct, I hear, “I want to keep kicking you, raping you, and subjecting you to painful court processes that go nowhere, and you’re not allowed to ask me to stop.”

Because, if you think I am oversensitive, I dearly hope you never go through a fraction of what I have. Otherwise, you might find that your skin isn’t so much thick, as it has been largely untested. I am still here. I have been suicidal, but I am still here, ready to raise a middle finger, yell, and demand that I not be subhuman.

Faggot is a dirty word.

Denis Farr has been writing about games for three years. His work can be found at Vorpal Bunny Ranch, The Border House, Gamers With Jobs and Gay Gamer consistently, and sporadically in other spots. He’s someone who subscribes to the quotation, “Not gay as in happy, but queer as in f**k you.”

Republished with permission.


  • Wonder how long before the “special rights”, “gay doesn’t mean a bad thing”, “artistic expression is so preshus”, “it’s your fault for being weird” (and so much more that I missed?) crowd, who are so wonderful in their own rights in the gamer community, come out to comment.

  • Thank you for posting this. That’s all I can say, really.

    Wanting equality in the way we’re treated isn’t asking for people to be too PC and watch their every move. It’s just wanting to be treated like a person, not an object of hate or disgust for something that shouldn’t even concern other people.

  • I’m not gay and I still find that word to be the most vile word in the english language. F and C bombs are fine with me, I swear like a trooper most of the time, but that word, that word is disgusting and I won’t use it for anything.

      • Personally, I find that word offensive. I’m not gay but its just one of those words that has such a meaning and history it’s just not acceptable to use in my opinion the same as the as the N word.

        That said a passive aggressive sweeping negative generalisation does not in anyway, help anything. Focus on educating and changing perceptions as the author has and not on being a douche like the very people you disdain.

    • Spend 20 minutes on Xbox live with a headset and you’ll see pretty quick what the word ‘Faggot’ has to do with gaming.

      • Do you think it’s exclusive to gaming though? You don’t think some guy just watching a live football match alone wouldn’t use such words?

        The only difference is that the players can finally hear you.

    • +1

      This topic annoys me quite a bit. You don’t see me or other people born out of wedlock ranting and raving everytime someone uses the word “bastard” because words change. As Ricky Gervais said when he did the Susan Boyle/Mong thing on his Science tour; “Nevermind the derivation.”

      Getting offended over a word is just a waste of your own time.

      • Because people born out of wedlock aren’t physically assaulted, are able to marry and aren’t executed or put in prison in some countries for what they are.

        • “Nevermind the derivation.”

          Some folk like yourself are so bent on keeping the meanings of these words the way they are. If these words are allowed to evolve into general derogatory words like a swear word then they lose their power to offend. My point about the “bastard” thing is that I’m not offended because despite the origin of the word it is not used to mean that anymore.

          • I agree with what you’re saying to some extent, and I’m aware of language evolving – the words imbecile and idiot are examples of this (being traditionally used to describe intellectually disabled people but now terms of ridicule for when someone’s being a tool), hell even ‘lame’ could be seen as discriminatory against special needs people.

            What I was trying to say is that it’s easy for some people to say “it’s just a word, get over it” when they haven’t been a victim of homophobia themselves. It’s context, y’know? People need to use their minds before they use their mouths sometimes.

            And no I’m not better than anyone here, I’ve used the word faggot before – usually when I’ve been about to enter a brawl with some jock to whom that word is a massive slight of his masculinity. I figure that if you’re gonna break someone’s nose the language you use against them is kinda irrelevant…

          • I think it’s the other way around; society (at least in the West) places no great stigma on children born out of wedlock, there’s nowhere near the abuse that would’ve been around a century or even fifty years ago.

            Unmarried couples or families with step parents or half siblings are increasingly common. There’s no power in ‘bastard’ because, in general, wedlock isn’t all that important.

            Words like faggot can’t evolve, and will never evolve, to lose their derogatory power while they continue to be used deliberately as a means of abuse, and while the people they’re being used against are still a focus.

            If the meaning changed instantly to be a neutral word for ‘bad’, I’d be as happy as anybody else.

            But while two meanings stick around, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that people think twice about using them, if only because inadvertent offense is possible. I’ve said this before: there are better alternatives.

          • “there’s nowhere near the abuse that would’ve been around a century or even fifty years ago.”

            That’s exactly my point. The word evolved! Things changed, now the word still has it’s original meaning of course but it is the far lesser used one.

            “Faggot” can easily evolve in the same way as bastard. It’s clearly already happening. But people from BOTH sides of the gay debate are still focussing on the meaning that’s offensive to gay people which slows the evolution of the word.

          • “There’s no power in ‘bastard’ because, in general, wedlock isn’t all that important.”

            And in all serious, is someone’s sexuality ‘all that important’ these days? You like dudes… *shrug* who cares. If you choose to label yourself then you feel compelled to defend that label when you feel it has been slighted. Far better to just do your own thing and ignore the labels I reckon.

          • Chazz and matt, please remember these things if you’re ever in the middle east, or africa, or maybe just some wrong place at night time and someone thinks you’re a queer and youre finding your face is being introduced to the sidewalk

    • Sigh.

      “Whats this have to do with gaming?”

      1. Tonnes of online multiplayer GAMERS use words that put down gay people.
      2. Blizzard, a big GAME company that should know better, chose to use that same language in a promotional video to promote their GAMING event.
      3. A significant number of internet commenters who are GAMERS chose to defend Blizzard’s actions.
      4. The writer of this post is a GAMER who decided to respond, explaining why that language, used by many multiplayer gamers, is hurtful.

      Tip: If you’re still not sure, re-read points 1-4, and take note of the words in capitals.

      The only people who need to ‘f*cking man up’ are the gamers who can’t bear to change their language just a little bit – to show some respect to other gamers.

      It takes 100x more ‘manning up’ to admit you’re being a dickhead and change your behaviour, than demanding that the victims of this crap change their behaviour.

    • Blaming the victim is the first defense of privilege.

      ‘They had it coming, they brought it on themselves, they weren’t strong enough, they asked for it.’

      No. It’s the argument that people who are stronger use to justify their exploitation of the weak.

      And it’s moronic. Nobody *ever* deserves abuse.

    • I’m gonna do this reverse chronologically.

      1. This is related to gaming because it’s Gamers talking about other gamers and vilifying them through words that should, in this current era, not be used as a derogatory description of another human but really should be left for there original purpose.

      2.If you interpret this as having a big cry you are a fool, this “whinge” as you said is an attack on the ignorance of biggots and the use of a word.

      3. Unfortunatly it seems you where scarred by your parents reactions to your own creativity and direction as a child. This may have hardened you and made you believe that you have faced the worst of pains and survived without a dent in your armour but you are so wrong, your reaction shows just how damaged you are. I sympathise with your pain my family has also had issues.

      4.So your saying that he makes himself a target because he decided for once to stand up and say how he felt? Your basically saying he should man up and take the rape physically and pschologically because that way he is making himself less of a target?
      your right he probably should not have given the finger to those men in the car but really being defiant in the face of adversity is more “manly” and far more respectable than sucking it up and crying about it at home by yourself. because thats what you want right for him to man up?

      i’d call you a douche but you don’t even deserve that

    • Read the opening paragraph: it refers to BlizzCon, a gaming convention.

      Read the rest of the post, the writer discusses their experience of being isolated as a homosexual and a gamer.

      This has everything to do with gaming, and the painfully-insensitive majority within our community.

    • I completely agree with Warcroft.

      This guy doesn’t get picked on because he is gay, he gets picked on because he sounds like a really irritating person./

    • Oh wow, what an intellectual you are, Warcroft!

      According to your advice, ALL victimisation and discrimination will stop as soon as people stop being whiny little bitches! OH MY GOD THE ANSWER WAS THERE ALL THE TIME!!! Ima go right now and spread your wisdom to all the oppressed peoples of the world, starting with those whiny little attention whores in Tibet! That’ll get China off their asses!

    • Someone reported Warcroft’s remark? Sure he wasn’t delicate about it but he didn’t fill it with hate speech or anything that’s actually inappropriate.

  • Now I have a serious question.

    Isn’t it people like you who let these words still hold weight? If you were really that thick-skinned wouldn’t you just shrug it off? Wouldn’t it be better to cause that word to have no meaning for younger generations s that they don’t have to go through it?

    • I don’t think it’s realistic to expect people to just shrug it off. Words are words, sure, but the tone and intent is obvious.

      Here’s some charming examples of how this particular word has been used (these are all Australian cases) – I don’t think it’d be very easy to just have a thick skin and ignore it:

      “had fag cut into my back in three places then fuck here with a arrow pointing to arsehole across my but
      then held and repeatedly abused with sticks (Stuart, 21 years)”

      “I have generally been quiet about it, although when I came out, I received both a lot of hate and a lot of
      love and acceptance. I have been called faggot, lesso, retarded, miscreant, and my mother has told me
      that she doesn’t want me. (Missy, 14 years)”

      “One of the people i thought i could trust was disgusted with me when i came out to him. He would say
      things like “your a disgusting little fuck, faggot go kill yourself, do the world a favour” and also “theres no
      place in the world for people like you”. (Cadell, 16 years)”

      • These are all really bad situations and I feel sorry for these people. I understand what you are saying, and I do agree with the fact these words are hurtful. Which is what made them powerful insulting words. The lower uneducated class of people enjoy being hurtful to others with these crude words in upfront situations. Though when they use them they are only trying to hurt others or use them jokingly, which I don’t find either to be acceptable. The same way that rape is so commonly used. I know people who have been raped and when this word is used online they get very uncomfortable in much the same way if not worse. This is a massive problem with the online gaming community as these words have been used for so long that they have lost their original context and are now, for many seen as generic insults. I don’t know which one would be more effective. Teaching all these people who don’t care and will continue to use words to hurt other that their actions are bad and unacceptable.(Which would make them want to use them more) Or Try to help the poor victims deal with it. I think that it is so ingrained in today’s youth that this will become a lot worse. When your friends use this “new” context day in day out you too will adapt and use the words this new why, and that’s how it will spread. A sad fact and one I don’t like. I feel that a lot of society is going down the drain. 🙁

        • And there you have it. It would be lovely it everyone who uses these words as way to offend somebody just stopped but unfortunately that is the scenario that will NEVER happen. No matter how much attention is drawn to the situation, it’s simply too late.

          These words are now regarded as regular derogatory terms that one uses to bag somebody just like asshole, dickhead etc. That is the way it is. It can’t be changed. Anyone who thinks that it can is fooling themselves and only going to make the issue draw out far longer than it needs to.

          • I think you’re being unnecessarily argumentative.

            More to the point, while two meanings of words exist and while one of them is often used with abuse or hostility, I’ll never see ‘oh, just get over it’ as anything more than ‘this issue isn’t important and you’re wasting my time’.

            It’s not that difficult to adjust the way you use language. Really.

          • The problem lies in changing a whole generation, and changing the behaviour of all the dick heads that exist and want to cause hurt. I would love for this to happen, but many people play games to vent anger and this is what I see whenever I play online. This is a whole generation now using words as insults and or greetings to friends without even knowing what they are or the meaning behind them. A sad fact but one that is really here to stay.

  • “Hheerre we go again!”

    What was that South Park episode again, where they pointed out that language changes over time.

    Or more especially, in my own opinion, words are words. Look for their intent. People use a word? So what? People use a word to actually insult and berate a real person, well now it matters.

    I mean all you guys, all you guys should just get out of my sight! You, you COMPUTERS!

  • I’m of the opinion that people who get picked on FOR ANY REASON have a right to stand up for themselves and call for a greater understanding.

    Whether he was picked on because he was gay, or just different, the fact remains that he obviously feels isolated from a big cross-section of gamers, because of the way they use derogatory language. THAT is why it’s relevant.

    And yes, IMO, faggot is a dirty word and an offensive insult. You’d be hard pressed to convince me otherwise.

  • I’ve heard about “the way Blizz closed Blizzcon” but I’ve not actually seen any objective coverage thereof. What actually happened?

  • That’s a crappy life mate, but oddly familiar to me; Except that I’m not a Gaymer. *brohug* though mate, in another 10 yrs you’ll look back on those times and it won’t be as bad, I promise. I had my own issues and while they were abhorent then, I just look back on them now and I’m sad for the people that do those sorts of things to others.

  • Everyone here who questions this man on why he said this doesn’t even deserve to breathe the air he does. Kotaku, you dissapoint me.
    These people shouldn’t be allowed to breathe.

    And what do you mean ‘what does this have to do with gaming?
    Go play a couple of online matches and then come.
    Fuck, stupid people disgust me sometimes.

    • Who are you to say the other point of view don’t deserve to voice their opinion? And going on to say they don’t deserve to breathe just proves how close minded YOU are. Grow up

      • No one cares about the point of view when it comes from hate and biggotry.
        Telling someone that they are ‘attention seekers’ because they are reaching out to their OWN community with their problems on current events, especially tragic ones, is childish and disgusting.
        These people are as bad as the faggot toting wankers Dennis wrote about. They are the reason gaming as a whole can’t move foward past the mum jokes or the faggot remarks and really grow into something respectable.

        Telling me to grow up is proof that gamers believe that 12 year old maturity is a standard.

  • Guy gets raped and abused, and you say ‘shuttup, you only have yourself to blame.’ I kind of can’t believe people still think that way.

    Guy has faggot scrawled on his door, and you say ‘shrug it off’

    Rather than flaming someone for trying to highlight prejudice in our community, why not try do something more constructive.

  • I also have to question the choice of using the word “gaymer”. If a person doesn’t want to be singled out, whether it be because of their sexual preference or something else, then why create a word to describe yourself that draws attention to that very same thing?

    Seems counter-productive.

    • Because being gay is still considered a stigma in today’s society, and the only way to counter the culture of gay-shaming is to show pride in being openly gay.

      Why is this a difficult concept for people to grasp?

        • Because gay people are considered different in society in a NEGATIVE way. Gay pride activists show they are different, in a POSITIVE way.

          • And that’s the problem. The focus is still on gay people being “different”. Why should they be considered “different” at all? Being gay is as natural as being tall or short, it’s just a part of who you are, a general trait.

            My friend Rachel doesn’t promote herself as a gay bartender. She’s just a bartender. My hairdresser Chris doesn’t have “Gay Hairdresser” on his card.

            Whether positive or negative, there should be no promoting the idea of being “different”.

            We’re all human, that’s all.

          • “We’re all human, that’s all.”
            Dude, that’s the whole point of the article, because a lot of people out there don’t see GLBT people as human. There shouldn’t have to be a gay rights movement, or a feminist movement, or anti-racist activism because in an ideal world they wouldn’t be needed. But this is the real world, and not everyone shares your egalitarian point of view.

          • The author’s intended point is indeed that BUT by using terms like “gaymer” he is classifying HIMSELF as still being different from others. In an attempt to raise awareness about an issue he’s still being part of the problem.

          • It’s a tough one and I mostly agree with you Chazz. I actually find the word ‘Gaymer’ to be kind of ridiculous. Yes I’m gay, yes I play video games.

            But like most folks, my sexuality doesn’t influence why I play games. So the word does indeed instil the idea that being a gaymer is different than other gamers.

            Where it can get a bit grey I find though, is I still end up visiting sites like GayGamer. Because I find that participating in some other online communities can land me on the outer rim, due to homophobia.

            So I’ve found my options can be: Play with people who use the word “Faggot” twice in every sentence. Or, play with “Gaymers” who at least wont freak out if it ever comes up and wont then grief me in-game.

            I don’t like the segregation, but actively use it to avoid homophobia. It’s all a bit confusing.

          • Well, I wouldn’t call deliberately trying to network with other gamers-that-are-also-gay to be segregation. It’s simply trying to meet people that are like yourself in that respect, and everyone does that. In general we’re more likely to enjoy interactions with people that are similar to us in any way, have common interests etc.

            And given that sexuality is a topic that can cause awkward and uncomfortable interactions with some people, it makes sense that you’d like to be a member of a group that would likely lack awkward and uncomfortable interactions on that basis.

            So it makes sense to me that you take advantage of social networks that cater to your demographic. I don’t think that is anything like segregation.

  • A civilised conversation:

    Bob – My boss is such an annoying faggot.
    Fred – Woah! I’m gay, and I’ve had that word thrown at me all my life. Please don’t use it as an insult.
    Bob – Oh shit! I’m really sorry. You’re right, and I’ll try to remember not to use it again in future.

    A less civilised conversation:

    Joe – My boss is such an annoying faggot.
    Fred – Woah! I’m gay, and I’ve had that word thrown at me all my life. Please don’t use it as an insult.
    Joe – Oh shut up, it’s just a word. My boss is straight, so I know he isn’t LITERALLY a faggot, but he’s just a whiny faggy bitch and he annoys me. It doesn’t mean “gay” any more, you know. It’s just a generic insult. You need to grow thicker skin and stop whining.

    Did you spot the subtle difference?

    That’s right: Joe is a fuckwit.

  • For all you peeps saying “man up” “shrug it off” “it’s just a word”, etc: I love seeing you guys trying to do that when some TV show or website stereotypes gamers in even the slightest way. ‘Cause y’all get your sooky la la’s on when your fragile little gamer egos are threatened. Christ, it never fails to amuse me how (some, and I stress SOME)gamers can make themselves out to be the most oppressed minority in the world while being so oblivious to the plight of others who have it way worse than your first world problems. You don’t wanna be stereotyped by the media & the wider public? Then here’s a clue: stop acting like a bunch of entitled little bigots with the emotional intelligence of twelve year olds.

    It might just be a word to you because you’re looking at this from a position of PRIVILEGE.

    Listen your own advice and MAN UP – because if you ARE indeed a real man, you’ll take some responsibility for your words & actions, put yourself in someone else’s skin for once in a while. Then maybe you’ll learn something & be able to develop as an enlightened and evolved human being.

  • Our society is pretty Hypocritical really. What really confuses me is anal sex, in that when gay men do it, its “disgusting” but when a man and woman do it its perfectly normal! Also, two woman getting it on is “Hot” (and I agree wholeheartedly), but two men is “filthy” and “disgusting.” Personally, I have no problem with gay men/woman, though I find anal sex revolting whether its gay or straight…

    When two woman get together its hot, and

  • Wow, I just… I can’t… Seriously?? Do people not see how this relates to gaming WHEN IT MENTIONS HOW BLIZZCON ENDED THEIR GAMING CON??? And seriously, the OP deserved what he got because he spoke up about it!?! That he should just man up whilst getting raped!?!?!


  • I think this is a tough one. The people we seem to be talking about who use the word excessively, in my experience, rarely think of the insult in terms of actually calling someone a ‘homosexual’. It’s become such a benign word (even though it actually isn’t) to a great many people they use it without really thinking about what it means. It’s become a modern equivalent of ‘dickhead’ or ‘moron’ etc.

    This shouldn’t be the case. People should endeavour to reduce their usage of such words, or be taught it’s true meaning and what it can actually mean to some people.

    At the same time, some people who take such offense to this behaviour should probably try and see where it comes form and how it’s intended – more often than not from people who have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about or the effect their words have. This doesn’t absole those people of any guilt, but it should be taken into account.

    I mean I had a pretty rough time in school at various points (certainly nothing even approaching what was mentioned in this article) and was called everything from ‘geek’, ‘nerd’, ‘poindexter’, and even ‘faggot’ from the usual jock elitist morons who don’t understand anything but testosterone, cars, beer and women. It’s not the same thing, I know – but I learnt to tolerate such hurtful taunts and behaviour because such people almost always had no clue what they were talking about.

    It certainly doesn’t make things any easier, or excuse people from hurting you – but at the end of the day, there’s fucking idiots in the world. You have to accept that.

    At a most basic, primal level, many people fear anything different from themselves. You either develop the conviction to stay true to what you are, and accept the barbs and cruelties or you fit in to what’s ‘normal’.

    That’s the price you pay for being different.

  • I was playing Battlefield 3 last night and was finding the amount of homophobic language on there just depressing. By now I shouldn’t be surprised at the responses from people like warcroft, but I still am.

    Yes, intent is what should be measured to assess whether or not a statement is offensive, not the words themselves. BUT your audience can be mislead. Satirical comedians often use offensive words in a facetious way, but it’s ok because their intent is the opposite. I do the same thing in my house with my housemates. We might say horribly sexist things in jest despite considering ourselves feminists, but we’re not offended by each other’s statements because we know what our actual beliefs are. Which is why I would never say those things in public. Because A) Women would think I was a pig and they’d feel threatened/dehumanised/etc and B) ACTUAL sexists would hear my language and assume I’m on their side, thus backing up the idea that this behaviour is normal.

    Obviously words can change meaning. You might say “faggot” and mean it in the same way Louis CK does, but understand that it has a knock-on effect, and MANY idiots still use it to demean gay people. By using it you’re giving them power. In the end, there are plenty of awesome swear words, just pick a different one.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your story Denis.

  • The bullying that the writer of this piece was subjected to was absolutely, monumentally evil without question. The way specific social institutions treated him was shocking.

    That said, the article absolutely lost its sanity when it begain using the methodologically collectivist power/privilege/Foucauldian linguistic-constructivist approach.

    The writer goes on about “society” making all these things happen, but “society” is just an abstract concept for a group of individuals that interact with each other. It was specific individuals that performed the acts of cruelty, bullying, brutalization and sexual assault against the author of this piece, not “society” as a whole. It is true that the individuals who violated this writer’s personal dignity did so because they believed in socially-promoted codes of morality that say “gay is evil” (and similar related ideas), but to say a moral code is “socially-promoted” is merely to say a lot of individuals happen to believe it and spread it.

    The meanings of words always change. “Faggot” after all originally meant “a bundle of sticks.” The term became attached to refer to homosexuality when gay people were set on fire and used to light the pyres for people being executed via burning-at-the-stake (I think). “Gay” used to mean “happy” and “Queer” used to mean “weird” or “strange” or “atypical” or “different” (none of which are necessarily value-laden terms).

    If “word X has been used to insult me all my life, please don’t use it” or “because it has been used to insult me, now I have a moral right to decide when people can and cannot use that word” then why do only some groups get to invoke this? There are some people that have had insults about their weight thrown at them for all their lives, they live in a culture where the media basically pretends people of their size don’t exist outside of “obesity epidemic” news stories (thus pathologizing (literally) their condition), and for many of these people biology is an important contributing factor to their size. Yet people that are commonly described as “obese” haven’t been pressurring for words like “fat” or “lardass” or “tubby” or the like to be made illegal hate speech. The point being that when talking about what groups “count” as oppressed/victimized/etc, even Foucauldian/Power-Privilege/Postmodernist victimology itself has to carve out select categories of “favored” groups… and thus commits the very sins it claims to be against.

    Now, I am not sure if the author of this piece wants to criminalize the use of ‘faggot.’ Being charitable, he probably just wants to have the word rendered impolite by conventional standards of manners. Now, that’s a reasonable request, but I think people already agree that the use of “faggot” would count as a coarse insult, just like terms “fuckface” or “shithead” or the like, and thus the phrase would not be considered appropriate in polite company.

    The author himself may not have been arguing this (I can’t tell for certain), but I’d also like to point out that hate speech does not create hate crimes. For one, people have free will so they’re responsible for any act of violence against others unless someone pointed a gun to their head and threatened to pull the trigger if they didn’t attack another person (or some similar scenario). For two, if people didn’t believe that “gay is evil” (along with a bunch of other ideas like “its okay to use violence against people that we regard as immoral” and “bashing gays proves you’re hetero”) we wouldn’t have nearly as much discrimination against gay people (and the historical connotation of “faggot” as “homosexual, and that’s bad” wouldn’t exist either). Its IDEAS, which are believed by INDIVIDUALS (since there’s no collective mind) that need to change if you want to end discrimination. And no, you can’t change people’s ideas by banning words; the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis in its strong form has been disproven repeatedly.

    Look, I wouldn’t use the term “faggot” as an insult (for one, I don’t agree that homosexuality is bad; I think people’s sexual preference is a morally neutral issue. For two, the historical meaning of the word is ‘bundle of sticks’ and that isn’t particularly offensive), and I think its a clearly rude word. So I have some sympathy with the writer’s case, even if I think the writer’s analytical methodology is absolutely irredeemably flawed.

    As a victim of bullying and unsympathetic institutions (although not nearly to the same degree as the writer), I also have sympathy (and condolences) for the suffering that the writer of this piece endured. As I stated before, what he went through was pure evil. But from a strictly logical perspective, attempting to avoid an ‘academic exercise’ and telling his (admittedly heartrending) story really comes off as an attempt at Argumentum Ad Misericordiam. “I’ve gone through hell, therefore my argument should be immune from dispassionate analysis” is simply not true.

    • this is all a load of pseudo-intellectual twaddle.

      I mean seriously, if you can keep these big words in your head, why not do some research into privilege and victim blaming? Hell, start with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

      • Why is it always written off as “pseudo-intellectual” something-or-other when a person actually expresses themselves in a highly intelligent manner? Mayhap in this instance he/she actually knows what they’re talking about…

        • “Pseudo-Intellectual” means “an intelligent response you disagree with, but can’t be bothered to write a coherent critique of.”

        • Because it’s trivially easy to obscure your point by expressing it in language that requires a thesaurus to decipher. Certainly, expressive words are fun, and they can be very illuminating when used sparingly and in-context. But this isn’t that; it’s a great deal of words to say, essentially, ‘I sympathise with you being hurt by this but I don’t think you were hurt by this’ with a side order of ignorance about institutionalised inequality. If people didn’t excuse homophobia we wouldn’t be having a conversation about whether or not gay people were hurt by the lead singer of Cannibal Corpse invited by Blizzard to spew hate speech. Moreover, there’s plenty of people arguing in the comments that the author’s experience being hurt by this kind of language isn’t valid, including Mr. deKadent. If words and names didn’t have power, free speech wouldn’t be important.

          No-one is saying that not using the word ‘faggot’ will magically fix homophobia. But the idea that overusing the word will diminish its potency isn’t valid, either. ‘Fuck’ lost its potency not because it was overused, but because sex isn’t as shocking as it once was. Conversely, ‘gypped’ is still racist, still spreads the idea of gypsies as con artists, even though the idea of gypsies as con artists is a mostly alien one. Or take ‘niggardly’, a perfectly decent word that so happens to evoke another word and is rapidly becoming problematic to use because of the associations it’s gathering. Language changes, and this is how language changes – words gather implications that they didn’t have before, until their original meanings are mostly forgotten. We have a clear example here that ‘faggot’ is being used to attack, to dehumanise, and to humiliate; the inescapable conclusion is that unless you want to evoke those attacks you’d better back the fuck off the word. It has changed underneath you, and you will have to use a different word that more precisely maps how you feel about the subject.

          It’s still pseudo-intellectual twaddle, anyway.

          • Merus,

            My language wasn’t particularly complex at all. You clearly understood it.

            And my language was very clear. I wasn’t obfuscating my meaning. I detailed my case comprehensively but it isn’t as if what I wrote was hard to grasp. Again, you clearly understood it.

            But let’s make one thing clear; I am not “ignorant” about institutionalized inequality. I disagree with the methodology by which you analyze/classify/comprehend inequality of various kinds. I disagree with the use of Class Analysis in the social sciences.

            And I am not arguing that anyone’s experience is invalid. What I am arguing is that some people’s method by which they analyze and classify their own experience is flawed.

            I don’t think anyone is arguing that “no gay people were offended by George Fisher’s comments.” Quite clearly some were, but some other gay people weren’t (read the comments here, some gay gamers don’t think its a big deal).

            Oh, and speaking of free speech, please remember that people on “your side” of the debate have often been at the forefront of restricting free speech (university speech codes are a good example of this phenomenon).

            As for your example of specific words, I agree with you to an extent. Regarding “faggot” I agree that mere overuse won’t necessarily make it less shocking (although “swear word inflation” clearly exists, over time the overuse of a word does make it more common and less coarse). I also agree that, to an extent, the de-stigmatization of sexuality has contributed to the partial normalization of the term “fuck.”

            But is “Gypped” necessarily racist? I agree that the word originated from a racist stereotype, but the stereotype itself is becoming much less common and I think it is fair to say that the majority of people that use the word don’t know about its origins (all they know is that its a synonym for ‘ripped off’ or possibly ‘defrauded’). Thus, I don’t think the word spreads the racist stereotype; the stereotype itself is conceptually independent even if the word and the stereotype are historically linked.

          • Sorry but just because YOU need a thesaurus to understand high school level English does not make it “pseudo-intellectual twaddle”.

      • I discussed the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis in my reply. Said Hypothesis, in its strong form (“language controls thought”) has been thoroughly disproven. Repeatedly.

        I have looked at the concepts of “privilege” as used in the above article and I’ve found said concepts to be extraordinarily elastic and poorly defined.

        As for “victim blaming” I don’t see where in my post I’ve ever said “its the writer’s fault that he was bullied.” Indeed, I said the exact opposite; individuals have free will and are thus responsible for how they treated the writer. How they treated the writer was evil. It is your Sapir-Whorf-loving side which excuses the bullies, because according to your own arguments they are merely ‘social constructs’ brainwashed by existing social norms and thus it is “society” rather than the bullies that is at fault. “Collective responsibilty” translates into “no responsibility.”

        You can disagree with me if you wish, but to dismiss my post as “pseudo-intellectual twaddle” merely because you disagree with it shows that you are incapable of rationally confronting arguments that disagree with your position.

        • I don’t know what the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis is, but I would have thought language would have a fairly strong effect on thought. I mean, use of language is how we express ourselves and convey and alter opinions. I also don’t understand how something like that can be proven or disproven in any scientific sense of the word.

          Surely, at the very least, use of homophobic language in public forums (regardless of intent) is hurtful (due to gay people reasonably assuming hurtful intent), and encourages homophobes to strengthen their opinions…

          • The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis is the idea that thought is dependent on language. Basically, the idea is that without a word to label a specific concept, that concept cannot be expressed.

            George Orwell’s 1984 had a fictional language of “Newspeak” which was intended to eliminate ideas that The Party didn’t like. Orwell’s example was that the first section of the Declaration of Independence would have been literally impossible to express in Newspeak.

            Now, the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis has two forms; a strong form (“language controls thought”) and a weaker form (“language influences thought”). I’m inclined to accept that the weaker form of the Hypothesis is arguably somewhat correct in some situations.

            But the strong form is pretty bizarre.. it leads to the conclusion that by eliminating a label for a concept you don’t like, you’d eliminate the concept itself. In essence, you can manipulate language to control people’s thoughts. Under this line of thought, if you eliminate the word “nigger” then you’d eliminate racism against black people.

            I disagree with the strong form of the SWH for basically two reasons;
            1) It flips the causal order between concept and word around (for instance, as I said in my first post, “faggot” became derogatory because of the association with homosexuality, which was believed to be a bad thing under the ethical codes that were popular at the time (and are still popular with some today). In other words, the thought process comes PRIOR to the word, and so if you change or eliminate the word you won’t change the thought process).

            2) It ignores the fact that human beings do have free will and can originate new concepts, and new words for them. Not only that, but concepts can be expressed in multiple ways (because English is a very flexible language), even if a long explanation of an underlying definition/thought process is required.

            Regardless of that, you do have a point. I would agree that the use of the word “faggot” can be genuinely offensive to people and thus hurtful in that way, and in general it is best to try to minimize being hurtful to other people.

            Would I agree that the use of the term “faggot” strengthens homophobic opinion? I would disagree there to an extent, because I think the term becoming an insult was CAUSED BY anti-nonheterosexual moral beliefs. To say that the word propagates these beliefs would be to flip the causal order around.

            That said,I wouldn’t regard the use of the term “faggot” as either polite or mature. But do I think anyone that uses it as an insult is necessarily morally against non-heterosexuality? No, not really. For the same reason that people who use the term “fuck” to describe sex aren’t necessarily subscribing to the belief that “sex is bad.”

        • I think you make a lot of logical sense. I’m not sure if the author was looking to make a logical point as much as he was trying to evoke a more emotional response though.

          I do find myself conflicted on the idea of true individual responsibility though. Yes it was individuals that were the bullies, but can’t it be argued that a certain culture of intolerance or homophobia strongly influences the likelihood of bullying?

          Although blaming society in general may not be appropriate, isn’t their some blame on those who run that school, town or state for not actively trying to stem the spread of homophobia? Especially since, in a lot of cases, we can be talking about young people who can be easily mis-guided.

          Maybe I’m not as knowledgeable about such things. I’d agree there’s no collective mind, but I think the thoughts and opinions of others can strongly influence people.

          Especially young people. I’m not sure they have the wisdom, or the capacity, to make an individual judgement on certain issues. They may not have that value system in place.

          That stage in life of more independent thought, may come too-late to stem the damaging bullying behaviour and it’s serious effects on those enduring it.

          • Exactly. Most people aren’t free to make their own decisions, anyone who thinks we all have free will is flattering humanity. They’re programmed to fall in line with what the kyriarchy wants them to be from day one. Very few people can overcome their programming, most are too stupid to. Gaming forums are a good example of this.


          • Slaughtermatic Lover,

            I happen to disagree with you.

            And yes, I agree with you that your post does seem very misanthropic.

            Question; do you apply your own logic to yourself? If we’re all just determined to fall in line with whatever the kyriarchy wants, doesn’t that include yourself?

            Or do you carve out an exception for those special enough to “overcome their programming.” If “humanity” generally cannot do this, that must mean those that do are something beyond human?

            forgive me for saying this, but some might think your position is not just misanthropic but also potentially very elitist.

            That said, you’re entitled to your opinion in spite of my disagreement with it.

          • Rohan,

            You make a very valid point. Younger people often (although not universally) aren’t always particularly good at questioning widely-held beliefs (like “gay is immoral”).

            It should be noted, though, that there is an additional step between an individual believing “gay is immoral” and an individual bashing a gay person (or subjecting a gay person to the kind of monstrous abuse the article’s writer endured). That additional step is “it is okay to use violence against a gay person.”

            Whilst I do not believe that it is immoral to be gay (I believe sexual gender preference is morally irrelevant), not every person that DOES believe “it is immoral to be gay” ends up a gay basher.

            In other words, even IF they have been socially influenced to believe “gay is bad” they STILL have to make the additional step to be violent against gay people. And it is THAT additional step which is fully within their control and they are fully responsible for (and, of course, criminally responsible for).

            A culture of intolerance and homophobia would indeed increase the chance of gay bashing, ceteris paribus. Ideas/beliefs indeed have the effect of making certain actions more likely than others. But ideas/beliefs do NOT enact themselves, and people who hold any idea/belief may not hold to it consistently and/or may not enact it consistently.

            Additionally, as stated before, the “violence is okay” step is required to turn anti-gay beliefs into gay bashing.

            I do think you raise an important and valid point, so thank you for raising it. Children are acknowledged as less responsible for things than an adult would be (especially in a legal context), and they’re more likely to be susceptible to societal influences, although this would vary between individual kids and contexts etc etc.

            As for the level of responsibility of a school or other institution to stop homophobia, that is again a very important question. It should be stated that your point applies to all forms of bullying, by the way. I admit, anti-bullying policies in schools are things I’m not particularly familiar with, although in my experience they’re typically ineffective (not saying that they should be abolished, just saying they didn’t exactly save many people).

            I can’t claim an ability to answer your question fully but I might be able to provide some food for thought. First, in a school context many children tend to be innately suspicious of anything put out by the school administration… they assume if the school wants them to don’t do X, X must be really really fun. So there’s a chance that specific anti-homophobia campaigns may backfire.

            Second, there are issues relating to what counts as hatred of gay people in a school context; let’s take a family of Evangelical Christian types (disclosure: I’m a militant atheist). Now, if it is their conviction that homosexual acts are immoral, is it really the role of the school to change their children’s minds? There are issues of freedom of conscience here. My own personal opinion is that as long as people don’t enact their beliefs in the form of violence, intimidation or repeated harassment (and I concede the last two are VERY difficult to define), they should be left alone. And even if that line is crossed, the bullying is the transgression, not the belief. If there IS an idea that can legitimately be the target of anti-bullying policies, its the idea that “it is acceptable to use violence, intimidation and harassment against people whom I dislike/disagree with/think are morally wrong.”

            Third, sometimes the dynamics of homophobia aren’t as clear-cut “gay is bad” as you’d think. Many studies of homophobia have demonstrated that it is more… “obvious” (via the cliche standards of typical “camp” gayness) gay men that get bashed, and more masculine gay men tend not to get bashed (this is a broad statistical generalization). In other words, a lot of homophobia is really a derivative of “sissyphobia” or a belief that it is immoral for men to fail to meet the standards of traditional masculinity and that beating them up is thus justified by whatever rationale. In this case the object of hate isn’t having an exclusive sexual preference for members of the same sex, but rather defiance of traditional norms of maleness.

            I’m not trying to say any of the above fully answers your concerns. I honestly thank you for your comment… you raise very important issues that need to be strongly considered.

            Thanks for contributing to this discussion in such a productive way.

    • Look, what you’re saying is right, but I really think you should read between the lines.

      Yes meanings of words change, yes brutality exists, but that doesn’t make what is happening suddenly ‘right’. Sure you may understand where these things come from, but neither does that suddenly make the abuse and the violence not painful to experience.

      When the author protested against the word and against society, he is protesting against the fundamental attitudes which are letting these happen.

      The fact is, the behaviors and attitudes that have been associated with words like ‘fag’ and ‘gay’ are very much present. People need to realise that this is also a part of what they’re communicating when they use these words despite their intention.

      If one uses words likes these without understanding its full implications, then things may be rectified. However if they recognise the extremity of a word’s impact and still choose to continue, then they’re virtually condoning all the terrible acts which have been done by others.

      And if you do this, and still refuse to take responsibility, all they’re doing is displaying a level of ignorance and self-entitlement that is often disgusting to behold.

      Let me put it this way. Using the Ku Klux Klan as a simile. What people are virtually doing is parading around with a white cone shaped mask on their heads. It’s okay until you find out what the KKK actually was, but if you still wear it afterwards, and then proceed to blame the African-American population for being too sensitive and just ‘learn to handle it’?

      No. Just no.

      Knowing where discrimination and hatred comes from doesn’t make it acceptable. Just because it seems like ‘a natural part of society’ doesn’t make the experience pleasant for those who are forced to suffer its consequences.

        • I did understand your response. Thanks for it.

          We agree on a lot. I absolutely agree with you that hatred towards nonheterosexual people (for their nonheterosexuality specifically) is absolutely evil, and I also agree with you that if a specific word causes distress to another person, then the polite thing to do is to not use the word. I also agree with you that the attitudes which enable hatred of nonheterosexual people do indeed persist.

          Where I think we disagree is that I wouldn’t say that if someone uses the word as a general synonym for “nasty person” and has, in their mind, a clear separation between “nasty person” and “person who happens to have an exclusive sexual preference for members of the same sex,” they are either bigoted themselves or endorsing bigotry.

          That said, the word can clearly be hurtful and if someone finds it hurtful, manners and prudence would recommend one to stop using that word.

          Again, thanks for sharing your perspective. I appreciate the constructive contribution.

  • To the ‘gaymer’ calls. I when I play games I’m a gamer, not a gay gamer. When I have lunch, it’s not gay lunch.

    Some people need to grow up really.

    • I believe a comedian (who happened to be gay himself) discussed that issue in a very funny way. I don’t remember the exact words, but he said that he called “gay marriage” a “marriage,” for the same reason that when he parks he car he doesn’t “gay park” it.

      • @StudiodeKadent I don’t remember her name, but that joke was made by a woman. The fact you didn’t notice/remember is pretty telling.

  • I tried this approach, the “give a real experience” approach with the transgender issue. It didn’t work then, it won’t work now. Sorry Denis, but the people who empathise will continue to empathise and the haters… You know the rest.

  • Yes, perhaps I was being a little harsh, what I meant is that most people don’t question why they believe the things they do. In a debate like this, for example, people take opposing sides and say what they believe they should be saying according to their upbringing/education/doctrine. People don’t stop & put themselves in someone else’s skin to see why they might feel the way they do. The problem here isn’t homophobia, it’s identity – most people don’t get that it’s a fluid, flowing thing; there is no central “truth”, and reality is subject to your own individual perception. Maybe I’ve just read too much Grant Morrison, but we ain’t gonna be able to get very far as humans if we can’t get past the construct of self.
    And no, I’m not on the drugs.

    • “what I meant is that most people don’t question why they believe the things they do.”

      I’d agree with you on that point.

      “The problem here isn’t homophobia, it’s identity – most people don’t get that it’s a fluid, flowing thing; there is no central “truth”, and reality is subject to your own individual perception. Maybe I’ve just read too much Grant Morrison, but we ain’t gonna be able to get very far as humans if we can’t get past the construct of self.”

      On those issues, we strongly disagree.

        • I wouldn’t disagree to one either!

          Honestly, thanks for discussing this contentious issue so politely. I appreciate it when people can disagree in a cordial, civilized manner.

  • It’s probably worth noting that convincing anyone of anything is pretty difficult, especially on a topic like this. So this article probably should be considered not so much a definitive statement but part of a larger campaign that may last years, decades?
    Ask yourself what the ideal response to this article is? A complete change of point of view and corresponding behavioural adjustments? Is that realistic? Probably not. But this article and dozens like it over the years that can start discussions may provide the basis for people to at least reconsider the way they act and speak. And as a journalist with no direct relationship to the readers I think that’s a good place to start.

  • It’s a terrible thing to call someone and it’s really a shame that people are the way some of them are.

    and this might be slightly off-topic, but considering its similiarity to the use of the ‘n-word’ historically I wonder if people like the author are going to have to live with a new generation of gay people, or even non-gay people, using the phrase like the ‘n-word’ has been used for awhile now in Rap and in the ‘ghetto subculture’…

    I can’t imagine the rage and probably shame that would come along with that frustration in old age.

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