I had a non-monetary disagreement with an out of state patron of my business yesterday.  We needed to concur about things for the relationship to continue, and that concurrence wasn’t going to happen.  Thus the relationship was ending, and this culminated with him calling me gay, a fag, a pansy, and an impotent little man.

Take from that what you may.  Snap observations about a man who talks this way stand a good chance of being right, probably.  There is an additional thread to pull in discussing weird, hyper-masculine assholes and maybe say hetero-normacy, if that’s the right term.

I have corresponded with this fellow several times a week for 4 years and met personally with him twice.  So he knows me.  For the reader, I’ll say… my compositions here may (or may not) come out all piss and vinegar, or at the very least, slugs and snails and puppy dog tails.  That’s the way I hear my writer’s voice and the way I hear my real voice.  That my voice is masculine.

But the self-perception of voice is not quite right, as we all know.  When I listen to tape I hear that I am a low tenor, not a baritone, and that I lisp just a touch, and that I have an expansive vocabulary and I embellish sentences with an uptalk lilt.  And I was always willowy built, despite not being particularly tall or frail, and remain so, despite being 200 lbs with man muscles in my middle age.

I don’t know about other suburban yuppie guys, but the frequency of my near fisticuffs episodes with other dudes is say every ten years.  Had one in my twenties, at a bar.  Had one in my thirties, as an amateur baseball player.  Had this one now, which is basically within the sporting good milieu.  So this stuff happens where there is testosterone, or where alcohol and testosterone mix.  Boys will argue and sometimes fight, we know this.

One or two is anecdote, but a few or more examples is data, right?  I don’t know that whenever boys fight one gets called a fag.  Over the years when I’ve annoyed someone so much that they want to sock me, they always called me a fag.

I’m a hetero,  and I partake in ‘guy’ things.  I’ve always dated women, am married to one now.  Am not very , er,  flamboyant .  So there’s not any obvious indicators that I’m not a hetero.  But each time these guys ultimately honed in on some subtle, superficial traits to size me up as a “fag”.  And then call me one when the time came.

I’m not aggrieved, and this is inadequate as a ‘walked in their shoes’ anecdote.  I’ll say:

  • It’s somewhat unsettling when one of these psychotic homophobes is revealed to you.  If you pay attention, they are revealed regularly.
  • These guys have too much influence over normal men in characterizing what is masculine-normative.
  • I’m glad I irked some of these guys with my enthusiasm and big words over the years.
  • I didn’t get my subtle lisp from dad, he doesn’t have it.  But he’s a malcontent, has always had a low grade bad attitude.  In my life I’ve never heard him say the word fag (or any other slurs).    I don’t think I’ve said the word fag myself more than 20 times in my life, and that was just for dictionary type discussions of slang or bigotry.  So I was raised right, but it has not ever been illuminated to me what the homo-phobic  impulse is to go around evaluating other men this way.   Guys in my family had hay in their shoes, but they never did this.  It remains shocking to me.

5 thoughts on “Fag

  1. pm1956

    just one quick comment–the insult to you (“fag”) might not have had anything to do with you or any of your attributes. It was probably the most insulting thing that he could think to say to you. My supposition is that at the time he was not interested in being accurate or even slightly believable–he wanted to dis you, to make you mad, to insult you in the most vile way (in his mind) possible.

    I suppose that my point is, when one person uses “fag” as a pejorative, it says a lot about them, and not necessarily anything at all about the person it is directed towards. If you get called “fag” a lot, it simply means that you spend too much time around homophobes, and says nothing about any of your attributes (size, muscles, lisp, whatever). I know plenty of gay men who do not fit any of the stereotypes you explore above.

    1. Erik Petersen Post author

      You’re right in many / most ways, I am sure.

      I do think there’s something about being oddball in hyper-masculine social circles though, and if you’re that oddball you get called fag by the psychos on occasion.

      1. pm1956

        Well, by calling you a fag they are in essence saying that you are not one of them–you are “other”, different, suspect.

        interesting the emphasis on conformity in those hyper-masculine circles.

        Apropos of nothing in our discussion, I saw and liked this:
        “Homophobia: a man’s terror that another man will try to treat him the way he treats women.”

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