Sunday, November 04, 2007

Toeing the straight line...

The other day, when we gals were discussing an office weekend outing, one of the timid ones in the group called NB blurted out that she could not possibly sleep alone and if she were to be given a single room, she would shack in with someone to avoid getting terrified at every sound and shadow. Promptly another gal SP, retorted jokingly that she was not gay and hence could not sleep with NB. The joke went over the simple girl NB's head. I didn’t find the joke pleasant at all and snapped at SP that she was acting a little too Americanized. The other gals, who also found the joke unpleasant and totally out of place, immediately supported me.

I remember a mail from a gal, who wrote in saying she liked my posts. She also reassured me that she was very straight and her mail was just a gesture of appreciation :) I can understand and empathize with her need to emphasize the “I am straight” fact, after a few encounters of the above paragraph kind.

I cannot talk about guys, but we gals form deep friendships with other gals, friendships that are closer than the relationship sisters share and these friendships are a support system that we rely on heavily for, from a pep talk when you are demoralized to a shoulder to cry on, to unbiased advice when you need it and a whole host of things that only girls will understand.

Holding hands, exchanging clothes, sleeping in each other houses etc is a very natural thing to do with friends whether they are close friends or not. But today this relationship, perhaps the only relationship apart from that of a family that is not looked at with jaundiced eyes, is under siege.

People hear words like ‘gay’ without understanding its full import and use it sullying friendships. Friends are getting afraid to hold hands, or hang out together too long or have close same sex friends. It is cool to use the word gay, like in, "your clothes are so gay" to "you look so gay in that red shirt". What these people don't realize is that to be really cool, they should be tolerant of minority groups like gays and not poke fun of them!

The reason I snapped at SP was because, I am getting more than a little annoyed at the constant jibe some people take roomies, best friends etc playfully joking about them being gay. Though these are jokes, it does make the 'accused' a little less comfortable with his/her friend and puts a strain on friendships.

I am glad I am from the generation where we had no such pressures on friendships. But the people who subscribe to such views don’t realize the harm they are doing to friendships, with their half-baked prejudiced views colored by watching too many American serials, they don’t really understand.

27 comments:

Adorable Pancreas said...

Oh, I know. My best friend and I often talk about what people will think when they us together. We don't see each other much during classes, so we wander around the campus, take the 'couples' routes, go out for food together, hold hands and all. It's scary, that our friendship could be misinterpreted. I didn't have to worry about this at school. (Now I feel old, talking about good ol' schooldays, and 'aaj ke bachhe'.)

Mind Curry said...

not a very gay post.. :|

Alexis said...

Today, there is a tendency to complicate even simple things like friendship.

If a person has to appreciate someone and have to write a footnote declaring the sexual orientation, then things have become very bad.

Why can't people appreciate true friendships? May be it is something to do with the people who look everything through a perverted eye.

It is better to ignore such comments, but sometimes one person alone may not be able to fight back.

May God have mercy on the perverted souls.

~==[[[ Abhi ]]]==~ said...

Even though people proudly say that "We are the Gen-NEXT" they strongly oppose someone who displays true feelings towards his own sex. Its taboo for frnds to hold hands if they are of the same sex. Bt its never a problem if a guy kisses a gal in open. People misinterpret if 2 people who're just frnds hang around too much time together. Unknowingly they ask abt the LEVEL upto which the COUPLE have gone and so on!

God help us!

Amey said...

On one hand, I can see how that was supposed to be a "joke" (that would be emphasis, not sarcasm). Why not take that as a joke about being Punjabi/Mallu/blonde?

The problem is that (like you mentioned) people get uncomfortable whenever G word is used. That leads to looking deeper than needed in everything, and being "politically correct" (here it is a bit sarcasm).

Joe said...

Have seen so many such instances..:)Guess most often people do this in a lighter mood....but at times i have seen people getting really uncomfortable when this gets into a routine..

emmanuel said...

the supposedly harmless jokes become a painful expereince for some......it's too painful when i realize my slip (or knowingly made slip!!) of tongue and more painful when the "victim" takes it to heart.....i try to blame him or her, because we are close friends.......but i don't agree with the fact that since we are friends, i shud have refrained from making that comment...nice post, btw..... :)))

usha said...

hey, i just found myself at the receiving end of such a joke last weekend.
occasion: a meet-up at my place with an old college mate.
the lady just got married a month back, and like almost every newly wed women, she airs her concern about the single status of her other female friends.

My sis and I share an apartment and we live together. To which this lady couldn't stop herself from commenting: "so why dont you guys both get married to each other?"

u c, even sisters aren't spared!

gud post! in fact, it is something which can be taken lightly as a joke. but the thought which makes them use the word so recklessly is what makes one luk at it not so lightly.

Ajith said...

I find it strange..Jokes about guys being gay are very common especially in a hostel campus..There were guys in my college who were labelled gay just for the heck of it while everyone knew that they were perfectly straight ( or overtly straight like all of us going behind any pretty gal :) ) ..And I dont think they took those jokes as an offence .. May be gals think differently :)

KP said...

it was just joke...girls are very sensitive...girls dont take it sportingly......I say it to all my friends(guy/girl) "dude thats gay"....I guess country(where u r living) does matter!!!

mathew said...

i think it is pretty common among guys to have offensive jokes like this..For many guys calling a wide array of expletives is actually considered as a way of expressing comradeship with the other person.And most of the time the other person understands that he doesnt really mean it.I have seen many such folks treating the same way with other folks who may not necessarily find that kind amusing and cause a unnecessary rift.

And in your case I guess what really matters is the comfort level among the circle of friends..And if someone is sensitive then others should be considerate of it.Probably your friend may not have really thought it as offensive when she said that.I think a simple 'sorry' is all that takes.

silverine said...

AP: What would we be without friendships? Sad to hear that :(

MC: lol!!
And grrr you are stealing my straight faced smiley :|

alexis: Absolutely right!! God save them indeed!!

abhi: We are all going to end up friendless at this rate :(

amey: The reason why I got angry is that lots of people don't know what the term gay is, and then I feel we are robbing their innocense when an explanation is given for the term!

Joe: You are right. I have seen seen guys taking vendetta against other guys whom they think are popular with the gals, by labelling them gay!

emmanuel: I feel you can call a friend a monkey or a donkey but not gay, that is hitting below the belt, even if it said in jest! Most friends grin and bear it, but no one likes it!

usha: That is exactly what is going to happen...first it will be calling you gay, then something else!

ajith and KP: Most guys pretend to not take offense so as not to appear uncool!

mathew: Well if it is accepted amongst close friends then I guess it is ok! But most people use it o anyone and everyone!

Amey said...

True in a sense. Given the negative connotations of the word, that would count as the "education" you get from friends in highschool and later.

So are you saying that in "educated" company, you wouldn't have minded that joke?

Jiby said...

i was introduced to this aversion of getting physically close to guys by my cousins from US by the time we were in our teens...i wondered then what the need is to confuse sexuality and friendship and i decided i didnt have to follow everything they said just because they came from a more civilized society.

there are some baggage from the west we should trash...this is one of them...glad you wrote this post...it applies to both guys and girls. i am proud to say i am from the generation that held friends hands, hugged them, pinched them, etc...i am sure india and indians have been this way for centuries. i guess this new trend hasnt caught up in smaller cities yet but like all things western it sure will.

all said i keep my distance, from the more polished and cultured of my friends how much ever close to me they are...bcoz i am not sure anymore what their thoughts on all this are.

neermathalam said...

Agreed...:)..100 percent

It wil be indeed pity if every time i appreciate someone..hugg someone..I should add a footnote..conveying...

"No no I am not gonna propose you.."
"Well I am straight okk..sadhanam...!!!" :P

KP said...

its not about uncool..or groupism......when i use this word with my friends(i mean long term friends..i know them from ages not some strangers)...i dont mean that if they wear that..or if they do that...they`ll become gay...its just a word...if i meet some stranger or someone i hardly know or even colleague...i wont use that...

Pradeep said...

Such bonding happens among guys too; but in a different way. Even among guys the "gay remarks" happen. It's unfortunate, may be a sign of the times and the way the world is evolving. Such jokes can be hurting, since often a some point humour ceases to be humour.

Sunshine Gal! said...

A couple of years ago, I visited a very dear friend of mine in US. We are friends from school and whenever we met we used to hug. But that time as soon as we met, she whispered to me not to hug her coz people will think we were lesbians!!! That time it hurt me a lot. But later when I thot abt it, I understood that the place she is living is not like the place we grew up in. Its sad that the place we grew up is also becoming one more such place.

Inji Pennu said...

You said it!

TheDawg said...

Come on .. "Tholinmel kayyittu nadakkuka" you dont see that with guys nowadays do you ?

Jeseem said...

this is news to me. especially with living next to gay capitol of the world. I have really close guy friends. but calling anybody gay, just 'cause they r close.. never seen that

ദീപു : sandeep said...

This is sort of generic comment.

Almost read through the Think-pad. It had lot of things which I also came across but written in female point of view and that was new, at least to me.

Hope to see a lot more posts on both the blogs....

one small suggestion... you use bought where I thought brought was needed...
( feel like someone going for a code inspection where the code is well written and for the comment sake giving a comment that the revision history is not updated or copyright statement missing )

silverine said...

amey: I am afraid I dont like such jokes even by close freinds and they know it too :)

jiby:We are indeed a lucky generation, perhaps the last of the post liberalisation gen that had it's chilhood in pre liberalisation era.

neermathalam:lol!!

KP: Well if your friends are clear about its connotations, and dont mind then it's okay I guess.

pradeep: You are absolutely right. Besides this is being used as a weapon of choice for vendetta too.

sunshine gal: That must hurt to know that things have changed between you. I can understand. I would be appalled if a close friend of mine said that!!

inji pennu: Glad you agree :)

thedawg: Yes they do, thank god there are people who are still oblivious of such demarcations!!


jeseem: You are lucky then :)

sandeep: Thank you! I deliberately dont proof check my blogs. I have to do that for a living and doing it here would surely kill the joy of blogging :)

Sunshine Gal! said...

Yeah....but thankfully nothing has changed between us! Guess thats too small an incident to change anything between such good friends. By the way....that didnt actually stop me from hugging her! :)

TheDawg said...

Well saying "I love you , dude !!" to a dear friend for something nice he did has evoked many stares/ "O" shaped mouths etc :)). Ever since that i kinds think a lot before addressing anyone.

anN-series said...

using the word 'gay' is just similar to the F word and show of the finger...half the world doesnt understand wat it means...but use it coz they want to COOL!

Karthik Sivaramakrishnan said...

Admire the rasping tongue.