Friday, August 7

AK Souffle: The “G” word

- October 23, 2017


We all live by rules. Rules of our own, rules of society and law and religion, yes we all live by them, by which I mean we are all impacted on by them and not necessarily that we obey them. There are times when I am sure we all break the rules, simple things for the most part, crossing a road on a red light, that kind of thing.

I find the hardest rules to live by are those relating to being politically correct. I go to comedy gigs and hear stand ups stretch the bounds of what it is acceptable to say with almost every breath – but it’s “okay” because it’s “comedy” it’s “ironic” they’re merely being “provocative”, pushing us to face our own demons.

I agree with them, it’s good to be challenged in this way.

I recently used a word that I had not realised was quite so taboo in a group discussion. Not the “F” word or the “C” word even, no neither. I used the word “ghetto”. I later looked it up because in using it I generated an atmosphere that was a little uncomfortable, and here is what I found:

It’s good to be challenged

“An area of a city, especially a very poor area, where people of a particular race or religion live closely together and apart from other people: In the past, an area of a city where Jews were made to live. A part of society or group that is in some way divided from the main part.”

Yes the word “ghetto” does carry with it an unacceptable history, an overtone of oppression and misery, so I can see how it might raise hackles.

But I was knowingly using the word to describe a situation that gay oppression and homophobia has undoubtedly created over the centuries. In using the word I was not condemning it either. Although I would rather I lived in an all-accepting world without prejudice, I do know and accept that for safety and for comfort we have created our own safe places, our gay villages. How cosy the word “village” is in comparison to “ghetto” – and don’t get me wrong, I applaud that. I grew up in a village and it was pretty cosy, although I’m not sure how cosy it might have seemed had I stayed there and emerged from my adolescent shell the fully fledged homosexual that I now am.

And I know that our exclusive spaces are a bolt hole for those LGBT+ souls who are yet to find their comfort zones, places to meet like minds, peers and friends. It’s all good, I admit that freely.

What I meant to say by using the “G” word is that we have been forced by a less than accepting society to create a separate world outside their normality and for me that is part of our continuing oppression. I don’t want to be forced to live an outsider’s life – and for the most part I don’t. I want to fight for a world where no one bothers to ask about my sexuality, a world where the word “equality” becomes redundant – and for that matter the word “ghetto”.

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