Thursday, March 8, 2018

Hearing Voices: Trigger Warning

My previous blog post was about respecting everyone’s self-identified sexual orientation.
Here in Canada, we’re all about honour and respect.

When I originally posted Fifty Shades of Green Gables earlier today, I included the following cursory definition of "gay":
In my “Oscar Post-View,” I described Call Me By Your Name as both a “gay book” and a “gay movie.” In some contexts, I’ll use “gay” is a synonym for LGBTQIA+, or some other combination drawn from that potentially infinite sequence of letters and symbols. But, for me, the word “gay” usually connotes gay men.
All day today, or at least until 5:52 pm when I went back and deleted the paragraph, I kept being distracted by a gnawing sense something was missing. Or something was improperly present. One or the other. Or both.

Now it’s 6:07 pm. Everything feels just right. Of course, I could be that I’m in Vancouver, writing as I finish my pre-chorus rehearsal coffee. Observe how subtly the wi-fi switched us back to Canadian spellings and a sunnier tone.

Nowadays I approach language primary as a writer. When possible, I try to use common-sense nonsexist terms, but I’m not fanatical about it. [Ed. Note: for you ultra-politically correct snowflakes out there, that was all the trigger warning you’re ever going to get.]

“Gay” shows up in one of my sentences when it feels like the “bon mot,” i.e., the exact word to perfectly fits a particular place and time. Because of the way our brains work, often I’m not consciously aware why it’s the right word. Sometimes it’s because the voice in my head said so.  

If you have a problem with that, take it up with the voices.  My new friends. [Ed. Note: no, the hyperlinks to the future don’t work. Yet.]

Any individual’s sexual orientation1 blends identity and identify. So names matter. [Ed. Note: names always matter.]

1Few people experience their sexual orientation as voluntary. Referring to “sexual preference” is an awkward shibboleth that exposes the un-woke.

When the voices in my head suggest I choose the label “gay,” what meaning do I/we intend to convey to the reader? For me, the core definition is “someone who identifies as ‘gay.’ The Brotherhood of Gay Men is my tribe. They’re who my brain looks for.

Overall, being gay is my secondary social-and-therefore-human identity. Being gay has priority over numerous other core characteristics, even writer, Mormon, disabled person, Canadian, English major, Second Tenor, old maid, and lawyer. Gayness comes second only to my primary clan identity as father/son.

That makes me a gay dad. Bingo.

(It's 6:40 pm. Time to go to chorus rehearsal.)

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