Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Author’s Note: This blog covers adult subjects
These new sexual identities scare me. No, I’m not homophobic (although these days this “phobia” needs to be expanded far beyond simple homosexuality), and no, I don’t judge. In my opinion, love is always a good thing. It is not my or anybody else’s place to judge another person for who or how they choose to love so long as nobody else is being harmed. A lot of people are working hard to find excuses why a person’s sexual or gender orientation is somehow harming others, and the arguments always seem strained and awkward. Keeping transgendered athletes out of high school sports? Why? Is it to keep them away from the billion-dollar high school sports contracts? Please.
No, my fear has nothing to do with any of this nonsense. They scare me because I fear I do not know or understand what many of the new ones mean. My fear is that somehow, some time, I will try to use a term but end up offending somebody because I misunderstand it.
Since the beginning of the year, literally two weeks ago as I write this, two of my friends have “come out” to me, telling me that they are pan sexual. As if I understand what this is. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very proud of my friends for having the courage to declare their orientation, and very happy that they are aware of it because understanding themselves is important in understanding and accepting themselves as well.
My understanding of pan sexuality is a kind of sexual fluidity, and please forgive me if I’m wrong. In other words, they’re not really physically attracted to men or women per se (same or opposite gender), but rather, they’re attracted to the person and kind of adopt a sexuality to fit that person. At least this was how one of my friends explained it to me. It’s probably one of the most open-minded type of sexuality I’ve heard so far. So, if they find somebody with qualities that they find very sexually appealing, then they are attracted. If it’s a person of the same gender, or the opposite, it doesn’t really matter.
Since the start of the LGB movement, it has expanded to LGBTQ, then LGBTQ+ and my understanding is that now there are several more letters that have been added. More power to anybody who is figuring themselves out. I’m proud of you, I support you and I encourage your courage but damn, I just can’t keep up. I’m still waiting for a letter that means “attracted to old men”.
Race is another problem. The term for minorities has changed so often in my past that I’m afraid of all of them. Terms that were once meant to replace offensive terms are now offensive themselves. I feel like I just don’t have a chance, but since I’ve tried to stop using terms of race altogether, I have discovered that rarely are they really necessary in the first place. Maybe that’s the best way to handle it. In any conversation, maybe we need to stop opening up with something like race. “Describe him? Well, he’s a white guy…”
Being a white male, by the way, means that racial slurs just kind of bounce off of us. More than once people have tried to get an offensive term meaning “white” to stick but it just never does. Cracker? Okay, I get that. I assume it’s referring to, say, saltines because they’re white. But it’s a great term, because saltines are also dry and flavorless, just like us white guys. It’s a great analogy.
Apparently, for a brief time, it was a racial slur to refer to somebody as a baboon. I can see where this would be offensive. Bill Murray tried to turn it around. “If you ask me” (I’m probably kind of paraphrasing here but it’s as close as I can remember), “you white guys look like baboons. Have you ever looked at a baboon? They have these thin little lips just like yours.” Yep, that’s true. Our lips are thin and not terribly flattering. I can see it. Yep, we’re baboons. Good one, Bill.
The Sioux have a word for white men which I will probably misspell, “wichatu”. Apparently, this is a dreadful insult and if anybody ever calls me a wichatu I should be deeply hurt. I have a good friend from the Sioux Nation, and I asked him what it means. As he explained it, apparently it means untrustworthy, kind of like a snake tongue. I get that. White men stole the lands of the Native people, murdered, raped, kidnapped children and even today only honor treaties when it suits us to do so. My God, we drove a pipeline through the heart of their holy land and made a tourist attraction out of the place where they believe man first walked out from Mother Earth, their own version of the Garden of Eden. I’ve always tried to be honest and understanding of the native people, but yes, I get the term wichatu.
I don’t really know the point to today’s post. Maybe it’s my way of apologizing for my own ignorance, and any potential harm I’ve ever done by my lack of understanding. Maybe it’s time that we stop thinking about labels, and start thinking about each other for a change.