Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Racist VERSUS I Hate Gay

A funny thing happened Friday morning.

Friday followed Wednesday by some hours. It usually does. On Wednesday night I was exercising and watching M*A*S*H, and something in Radar’s unacceptance of Colonel Potter’s possible mistress triggered thoughts about how people come accept alternative lifestyles. I started rattling off items on a list a comical bigot might experience, then repeated them in various orders until I had the idea for a narrative. Ever since I left the novel to simmer I’ve been experimenting with any ideas that wander along.

After soaking and letting the tremors subside, I played around with my bigot’s timeline on the page. I soon feared the whole thing was hideously offensive, but it kept me laughing so I finished it. As soon as it was done, I e-mailed several friends in the hopes one would say, “Yes John, this is awful and you shouldn’t post it.” Just one person’s distaste would have convinced me to never publish it.

The height of inconsideration: they all thought it was fine. Three thought it was hilarious. The bastards. Still struck by doubt, I saved the document and decided to sleep on it.

Thursday morning followed Wednesday night (they’re fast companions). I woke to find hundreds of visitors had hit my site overnight for one particular story: “I Hate Gay.” It’s one of only three stories about gay issues I’d ever published in my years of daily writing, this one from back in December. People liked it back then, but it had been dormant for months. There was no reason so many people should suddenly have read it. Having just slept on my fourth-ever story about gay issues, I felt uncanny.

People say I don’t believe in coincidences. This is untrue. I believe too much in them. This is God dressed as the universe dressed as a wolf dressed as my sick Grandma beckoning me to come a little closer. Even after the Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook group took credit for the traffic, I felt uneasy.

Not only were these two stories similar. They were also insultingly different. “I Hate Gay” is raw introspection following a hate crime. “A Racist’s Acceptance” is the goofy tale of un-PC tolerance. The latter might well piss off any well-meaning folks who liked the former. I became petrified that the story was now less opportune than it might ever be.

So I did the capricious and logical thing, and posted it. I do capricious things really early on Thursday mornings. No Grandma Wolves devoured me, but it did strike me strongly enough to blog about it. You’ve got to cut me that much slack; tomorrow’s my birthday. But I am almost interested on any feedback between the two stories.


  1. First, a very happy birthday, you Virgo you!

    Second, and this is before coffee, when I read your Racist story the other day, I immediately thought of I Hate Gay. So all I can say is Coincidence influenced me as well, as a reader though, and not the creator.

    That said, I think you often like to peek under the clothes society wears, lift the hem, and poke fun at the underpants. But underwear's kind of personal, as is our values, and so you manage to strike nerves.

    Both these stories leave the reader a bit anxious, a bit worried about his or her own values.

    A good thing as a writer. A very good thing. Peace...

  2. I think the other main similarity between the two stories is that they both feel very real. I Hate Gay is impressively serious, and the Racist one is bumbling and funny, but they both show honestly how people might think.

    The Racist story is relatively inoffensive because the protagonist isn't actually homophobic to start with; he doesn't think gay people are bad, he just doesn't get them, period. A homophobe would have had a longer journey to "they're just people", I suspect. (Although that has happened, Shel's seen it, and it seems to involve coming to like and respect someone and then finding out they're gay.)


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