Monday, November 4, 2002


It should come as no surprise to regular readers (and others who know me) that there is a vast number of things in this universe that spin me right into a flurry of indignation and exasperation... so many things, in fact, that indignation and exasperation are almost the status quo of my life (and if I didn't spend so much time sleeping and watching videos and reading novels and pretending to meditate, the indignation and exasperation would take up most of my life).

Most people have these sorts of "pet peeves," little seemingly inconsequential things that drive one mad, the flies in our ointments, the burrs under our saddles, the peas under our princessly mattresses, the little reminders that this life is not perfect. My Grandmother has three which I think are funny: people who pronounce American as "Amurrrcan"; soap opera actors who kiss each other as if trying to swallow each-others' faces (or, as Grandmother more colloquially puts it, "Like a donkey eating a cob of corn"); and people who begin ball games by singing the national anthem as if it were a Motown/Gospel Patti LaBelle crossover hit, replete with pointless flights of nasal-toned scales, completely ignoring the notes as written.

I, on the other hand, have about three hundred pet peeves. I have pet driving peeves, pet fashion peeves, pet behavioral peeves, pet retail peeves, pet artistic peeves, pet architectural peeves, pet animal peeves, and so on and so forth... there isn't a known facet of this universe that does not contain at least one peeve. One might go so far as to call me "peevish."

But more than these are the language peeves. There are the pronunciation peeves, like people who say "nuke-you-lar" instead of nuclear, "hunnert" instead of hundred, "pin" instead of pen, "warsh" instead of wash, etc. Then there are the spelling peeves, the commonly confused words that drive me insane, such as the whole their/they're-your/you're-its/it's complex, the usual homonyms, using possessive apostrophes on plural words... not to mention simple bad spelling; there are the punctuation and other typographical peeves, people who over-use commas or who refrain from using capital letters or who communicate almost solely in web-based acronyms and abbreviations.

But more than anything else, I am peeved by misused words. I think many people are terribly sloppy about the denotations and connotations of words, preferring to let one word blanket a number of disparate issues or phenomena rather than spend an ounce of brain-power in pondering the correct definitions of things... and I don't mean having a grand flowery vocabulary, being able to say "pulchritudinous" rather than "pretty" or "glabrous" rather than "bald"... I mean the proper usage of everyday words, words like Love and Beautiful and Mom. Not to mention the actual seed of today's rant (about time you got to it), the misuse of the word Gay.

When most people say "gay," they aren't really being very precise, usually applying it to absolutely anyone of a homosexual orientation; some people use the word "queer" in the same context. This is wrong, it is sloppy, and it must be changed. "Gay" has not only denotations, but also connotations, as do "queer," "lesbian," "transgendered," and a whole slough of other words. And people tend not to bother with exact connotations, making the smallest, easiest word stand for a whole plethora of different and mutually exclusive concepts.

For example, I always cringe when I hear the phrase "closeted gay." You cannot be gay and closeted at the same time... "gay" means "uncloseted." People who are homosexual but do not live a gay lifestyle are not gay... they are simply homosexual. Furthermore, "queer" and "gay" are not interchangeable... they mean entirely different things. These things overlap in many places, but some people can be said to be queer and others cannot; some can be said to be gay, and others cannot. The same goes for "queen." The same goes for a lot of words.

The way I see it is this: you are born homosexual or heterosexual or somewhere in between, and that is all about the sex of the persons with whom you desire to copulate; you become gay or queer or lesbian or dyke or whatever you choose to become, which has to do with your culture, your choices, your support system, your paradigms, and the gender of the persons with whom you fall in love. Now, I omit bisexuality and transgenderedness from this, because I think these are entirely different concepts from "gay/lesbian" and "straight." I simply don't understand the whole bisexual thing, as a lifestyle, and transgenderism has little or nothing to do with the gender of those with whom you copulate, but rather with what you feel you are (plus I don't know about being born that way or choosing that way... these things are outside of my knowledge and experience, so I must refrain from expostulating).

Now, if you are a man who is married to a woman but sneaks out to have sex with other men, you are straight, not gay... you are a pansexual or bisexual or a homosexual with heterosexual abilities (and a reprehensible liar and cheat), but you are nevertheless straight. It's about who you are on the surface, what things you hold dear, how you conduct yourself in the public eye that makes you gay or straight; what you do to 'get off' is your sexuality, and how you align your social surface and your sexual selection is what makes for a Lifestyle Choice (and yes, being straight is a lifestyle choice, just as surely as being gay... it's simply an easier choice if you happen to be heterosexual, since that is the norm in this world and it's always easier to fall in with the norm if you can).

What brought this up for me today was the description of a blog I encountered when perusing through the Globe of Blogs... in which the author rolled off several descriptive nouns for himself which concluded with "who happens to be gay." That bugged the hell out of me for a few minutes, in the way that it always bugs me when people say that being gay isn't a very important thing. It bothers me because I have made many sacrifices and suffered many insults, both verbal and physical, because of my gayness... or, most specifically, my queenliness... and it irks me when I'm told that this is not very important.

As far as I'm concerned, nobody just "happens to be" gay. You can and do "happen to be" homosexual or heterosexual, but becoming gay is a lifestyle choice, and not one of the easiest choices to make. I feel minimized when it is suggested that my choice to be openly and publicly gay is rather less important than other things which I have chosen or which were dealt to me at birth. I understand, of course, this drive to minimize one's sexuality as a self-definition... there really are a lot of thing that go into making up a single human being, and sexuality is only one of those many things... and it is one that is most often used in an unfairly discriminatory manner (along with race, nationality, and sex).

But when the Thing You Are was a struggle to achieve, it is natural to demand recognition for it. I struggled for my lifestyle choice, it did not happen naturally or easily or without obstruction, like my education or my ability to color-coordinate. It was hard, and there were times I was tempted to crap out and pretend to be just like everyone else, just so people would stop beating me and teasing me and excluding me and throwing my otherness in my face. It was harder than recovery from alcoholism, it was harder than college-level Statistics, it was harder than building washboard abs... and it has more to do with other choices I make in life than my education or my sobriety have had. For me, it is the issue around which all others are built.

Perhaps this is wrong of me, but that is where I am. Still, to return to my original point, I think it behooves us as social animals for whom language is the only real method of communication, to learn to express ourselves properly and clearly. When you call yourself or someone else "gay," you should mean exactly that. If "gay" isn't the right word, find one that is exactly what you mean. And when you say something is beautiful, don't use the word unless the thing really is beautiful, rather than comely or cute or attractive... and the difference between pretty and handsome has nothing to do with the gender of the person described. And something is not beautiful just because you want to have sex with it. Furthermore, the woman who gave birth to you is not necessarily your Mom, sometimes she's just your mother, and your Mom is somebody else entirely.

Using the wrong word when you speak or write is the same as using the wrong name when you introduce one aquaintance to another. If you introduce Bob to June by calling him Bill, you will offend Bob and confuse June (and quite possibly insult anybody named Bill who happens to be standing nearby). And if you're not sure what the right word is when describing a person, ask him or her how s/he describes him- or herself... the same as if you didn't know his or her name.

And never, ever use the word "love" out of context... that's just asking for trouble. You have to know exactly what you mean, and make sure that the person you're talking to will know exactly what you mean, or else just keep your trap shut . When you say to someone "I love you," and the context is such that the person thinks you are in love with him or her, but your meaning is "I love you like I love Jell-O" or "I love you as much as I love all people," you have essentially told a lie... and it is these lies of omission that land us in the fire.

Well, anyway, that's what's on my chest today.

That and the voting thing... I hate politics. It makes people rather more vile than usual or necessary. The whole paradigm of competition destroys the ideal of democracy.

And my computer... turns out the CD drive is misfunctioning, which caused many misfunctions in the rest of the computer because the program information wasn't being loaded in properly from the operating system and applications disks. I will have to get that repaired, I think. Which means physically removing it from my room and taking it to a Gateway store somewhere.

And the home-repair thing... Grandmother scheduled another person to come look at the windows, and this time she wants him to look at my windows... in front of which are my (appropriately queen-sized) bed, a set of bookshelves full of sweaters that is supporting my TV and VCR, and a nightstand filled with videos and socks. All of these things, and everything in the vicinity of these things (that is, my entire freaking room) will have to be moved so this window-guy can look at and measure my windows. Oh, and did I mention that this man is coming at 9am tomorrow morning?! So not only do I have very little time in which to move all these things, but I also have to get up early in the morning to move the bed and greet the window man.

Sucks to be me, I guess.

We now return you to your regular life. Thanks for absorbing yet another rant from me. Here's the usual payoff:

There's something so HOT about beautiful twins... that the one guy is really gorgeous is miraculous enough, but the fact that there're TWO of such is just too much!

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