Why is it still ok to call yourself retarded? To call your friends gay?

Are you, indeed, retarded? Are you “less advanced in mental, physical, or social development than is usual” for your age? Do you have a mental handicap that requires you to be treated with a different sort of care? That makes certain life tasks more difficult?

Are your friends being silly/dumb/foolish/loving actually gay? Are they attracted to the same gender as themselves? When you say they are being ‘gay together’ are they engaging in a form of same sex activity (safely, I hope)? Are they simply “lighthearted and carefree,” uninhibited, giddy and happy, maybe back in the ’50s?

Why are we still using meaningful terms like ‘retarded‘ and ‘gay‘ as derogatory ways to refer to ourselves, our friends, our actions, strangers we’re mad at?

Here are some alternatives:

  • I can’t believe that ass parked in two handicap spots (oh, sorry donkeys)
  • My cheesy friends are laying in bed on top of each other screeching over old Seventeen magazines (my apologies, Swiss and Cheddar!)
  • Ugh, another selfie! What a douche! (forgive us, watery cleansing method!)

Feel free to add your own.

No matter what we mean when we speak, and I’m reaching back into a linguistics course from my conflict management days, there are the speakers and the recipients, and between both, with words, we create something when we open our mouths and ears. We create meaning, we create being, and often, we create possibility, for better or worse.

I don’t think the donkeys or cheese care all that much.

 

 

It Gets Better, Jew.0 (have to share, and keep sharing).

The It Gets Better Project, a series of videos by famous and non-famous people coming out on being hopeful for LGBT teens, has been catching attention around the social media corners I hang out in.

But I wonder if, aside from the teens who need the support, the misguided/hateful/ignorant people at the core of the problem are watching the videos?

Well, either way, visual expression of the optimism that it gets better – by those who have been there – is definitely crucial.

The following is an ‘it gets better’ video done by a group of gay Orthodox Jewish guys. I have to admit a couple of their faces and names are extremely familiar from my New York life. But the Jewish world is so small and connected that even if you don’t know them, chances are you know someone who they remind you of.

I can’t imagine the kind of strength and courage it took for them to do this. I think we owe it to their courage to watch the video and pass it along – to the ones we know who need it, and to the ones we know who aren’t understanding or accepting it, but hopefully one day will.

Gay Jews, straight Jews, mitzva-observing Jews.

This is already a week old, but I really wanted to share it again here: Shmuley Boteach’s take on homosexuality in Judaism. Whether you’re a fan or a foe, I think it’s a well-thought out and ballsy read. Give it a try:

No Holds Barred: The Jewish view of homosexuality

A few of my favorite parts:

  • There are 613 commandments in the Torah. One is to refrain from gay sex. Another is for men and women to marry and have children. So when Jewish gay couples come to me for counselling and tell me they have never been attracted to the opposite sex in their entire lives and are desperately alone, I tell them, “You have 611 commandments left. That should keep you busy…
  • The mistake of so many well-meaning people of faith is to believe that homosexuality is a moral rather than a religious sin. A moral sin involves injury to an innocent party. But who is being harmed when two, unattached, consenting adults are in a relationship? Rather, homosexuality is akin to the prohibition of lighting fire on the Sabbath or eating bread during Passover. There is nothing immoral about it, but it violates the divine will.
  • The American religious and electoral obsession with all-gay-marriage-all- the-time has led to a values-vacuum where it is near impossible to discuss real solutions to the erosion of family life. For instance, making marital counselling tax deductible would do infinitely more to bolster the crumbling institution of marriage than any opposition to gay relationships.
  • And all I’m asking from my religious brethren is this: Even as you oppose gay relationships because of your beliefs, please be tortured by your opposition. Understand that when our most deeply held beliefs conflict with our basic humanity, we should feel the tragedy of the conflict, rather than simply find convenient scapegoats upon whom to blame all of America’s ills.
  • I have observant friends who keep mitzvot way better than I do; who are kinder people than I am; who are believing, practicing Jews to the core. They happen to be gay.

    I’m married to a man, we have a child, but I can promise you my Judaism is a sad case of laziness.

    I wonder who truly ends up with the better karma at the end?