Friday, March 11, 2022

More Than a Slur

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

remember ~ forge ~ acquire ~ pan ~ configure

They were submitted by:

I don't remember much of anything about the days I came out to any of my friends, but I do remember that figuring out what I was lifted a weight off my shoulders I didn't even know I was carrying. I was joyous and giddy. I had a name for the things I felt. Finally I had the words to use to explain myself, and I wasn't just fucked up. It made life seem a little brighter. A little more worth sticking around for...
Of course this was the deep rural south in the 90s when I was in high school so everyone else still thought I was fucked up. You don't come out in that time in this place without coming out the other side having had to forge yourself out of steel.

You acquire thick skin and a particular set of skills. What's so bad about being called a few slurs across the courtyard when you're getting death threats in your locker, right? Who can hurt you if you don't bother letting people in? Be the queen of repartee and clapping back and anyone who bothers is going to leave embarrassed. Lock people out, dress the part, and completely obliterate anyone who crosses you with words and false bravado.

I spit on someone for calling my friend the F slur, and he still politely says hi if I see him somewhere.

Eat them up and toss them away like old garbage and wonder when things are quiet if maybe they're right. They had the Bible to prove it, didn't they?

Do you know how long it takes to undo all those defense mechanisms? No seriously I'm asking because no matter how hard I try, they're still with me.

These days I've given up on trying to configure my exact sexuality. Am I bi? Am I pan? Is there something else that fits better? I don't really like men 95% of the time so it's hard to say sometimes what actually fits anymore besides queer as an umbrella term for "my life may be difficult but at least I'm not straight." But I still find myself having to defend that choice as a grown ass adult to people in my own community. Like yes I know it was a slur. I got called that. Do you have any idea how empowering it is to take something hurled at you like a dagger and instead of bleeding out from the wounds it caused, you get to slap it on your forehead and wear it proudly as a fuck you to the people who used it to maim?

As bell hooks said, “…queer as not about who you’re having sex with, that can be a dimension of it, but queer as being about the self that is at odds with everything around it and has to invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to live.”

I may have to tiptoe around using that label, that word, but what else fits? From poverty and child abuse and drugs and sexual assault at 13 and coming out in the rural south at 15 years old and living on my own even when I definitely didn't have the means and hearing so so so much "hate the sin love the sinner" and all the platitudes of a religion stolen and ruined for political gain by capitalists to being 40 with a chronic illness and still having to defend what I am... I have carved out a space in this world and demanded I be left in peace in it. I fought tooth and nail for survival. I'm an age I never thought I'd live to. Scars and defense mechanisms aside, I am here and loud and proud and if that's not queer as fuck I don't know what is.

Deal with it.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

On the Border

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Part-time Working Hockey Mom


  1. I demand that all human beings have the right to carve out a space in this world and be left in peace in it. That's why I'm furious at what's happening to take us back to the days that saw the trauma you endured the norm.

  2. "Loud and Proud" - I like it, and please never back down. (I know you won't.)