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New Feature: Ask a Gay Guy

It has recently come to my attention that we had a bit of a kerfuffle here on the Skepchick blog, regarding an apparently homophobic comment made by Sam in his post, “A Fool and His Monkey are Soon High-Hatted.” I read the post and the follow-up responses, and I immediately felt as though Sam’s comment was completely innocuous, and that a few people were just overreacting. However, I realize that I am a relatively heterosexual woman who might not be as sensitive to homophobic language.

To remedy this and offer readers as balanced a view as possible, I took it upon myself to seek out a homosexual person and gauge his or her response. After literally minutes of searching, I was alerted to the fact that a very good friend of mine happens to be an actual, living, breathing gay guy. My question to him and his response follow after the jump.

Dear Aaron,

Recently a few Skepchick readers expressed alarm at a post that included the following in regards to the Catholic pope: “Don’t we just have to laugh at a man who wears a dress in the service of an invisible being and who wields that kind of power? It’s too scary not to.” The readers felt the comment was “homophobic.” As an actual gay man, could you possibly comment on this for the benefit of our readers as well as bloggers?

Kind regards,

Rebecca

The full response from Aaron (gay):

guys, it’s totally cool…and, yes, ‘guys’ is a collective noun including women. get over it.

So there you have it. Please feel free to comment below with additional questions for Aaron, or “pinkisthenewskeptic” as he’s now known on Skepchick.

Or, if you don’t have questions for Aaron but you do have an opinion about how we can improve Skepchick in terms of tone, subject matter, or amount of snarkiness, please let us know. We joke, but we also really do want to know what you like to read here and how we can keep making things better. We’re still tweaking things, and I have several changes coming soon based on your feedback.

Thanks, and thanks again to Aaron, actual gay guy, for being such a sport!

pinkisthenewskeptic and Rebecca share martini olives

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Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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63 Comments

  1. I completely agree that political correctness is a horrible, horrible thing, and that the screaming crybabies who protest at every little thing seem to be not the potential targets of offense, but others who are acting on the behalf of those targets, who in turn don’t really give a flip.

    However, I have to point out that gay people really have no right to “excuse” this comment. It’s the transvestites (cross-dressers) you have to check with. Being gay and dressing as the opposite sex are separate things. Maybe you could consult Rupaul on this one. ;o)

    But seriously, it’s a waste of time trying to placate the whining ninnies. I say just ignore them.

    ShawnMilo

  2. ShawnMilo, good points, there. If you see the original thread, you’ll notice that Sam pointed out that gay does not equal cross-dresser, but a reader insisted homophobia applied to both. In the interest of fairness, however, I will continue to seek out an opinion from Eddie Izzard over whether or not cross-dressing is funny.

    Also, please note that while Aaron is not a cross-dresser, he is wearing a button-down pink shirt.

  3. I wear pants and I don’t have a penis. Does that make me a cross dresser? I mean, my grandmother never wore pants because, well, they were men’s clothes. And neither did I for about 7 years when I thought it was a sin….

  4. @writerdd:

    I guess the social definition of “men’s clothing” has changed a bit since your grandmother was a wee lass. There are probably pants which would be defined by most people as “men’s pants,” but wearing them wouldn’t make you a cross-dresser if you were wearing them for comfort or style. If you were wearing them because it relieves anxiety to do so, then you could be a cross-dresser.

    Clothing designed for females (skeptical or otherwise) tends to really screw you over on pocket space, so that’s a good reason right there. I guess that’s why you have to carry a purse…

  5. ‘Becca–? Why are you placing an olive in that guy’s mouth with a swizzle stick?

    Excuse me, Rav, but that’s not just any guy. That’s a gay guy. A gay guy named pinkisthenewskeptic, nee Aaron.

  6. Speaking as a newcomer to the site (because I am one), I’m more concerned about the in-jokes, which I find rather baffling at times.

    Thanks, scotte, a very good point. I might work on a FAQ sort of section that explains our favorite Skepchick references, which we can link to whenever using said references. Or just cut down on the in-jokes a tad.

    And welcome to the site!

  7. An FAQ would be super great. Then I could totally get it.

    And thanks for the welcome. (If you track such things, I vectored in through the Blue Collared Scientist‘s blog.)

    “Sort of reminds me of “Wile E. Coyote: Super Genius”.”

    I dunno. Seems like a statement that would be accompanied by anvils.

  8. Hey, I have a pink, button-down shirt and I’m heterosexual…

    And I love peacocks. Not like love in the sense of *love* love, if you know what I mean. Now maybe if you dressed an effeminate peacock in pink I might love him… in kind of a non-bestial way. You know, maybe.

    Umm… Hey everyone, look at the new gay guy on Skepchick! Over there!

  9. I’m a transsexual. I was the secretary of one of the larger TG support organisations in my state. I have many friends of every trans* persuasion + a couple of drag queens. So I’m hoping you’ll listen to me when I say this: Lighten the #[email protected]% up. I had to read the comments to know which remark was so controversial.

    The thing about the pope wearing a dress is that he wears it very poorly. If you’re the head of an organisations that preaches charity and so on and you decided to glorify “god” with a number in gold and silk, spend the extra and get it tailored. It looks like he stood up in a pile of fabric with a hole cut out the top. Also, he needs a wig. I know every girl dreams of using her own hair but it just doesn’t work for him.

  10. I’m going to post my comment to Sam’s thread here since people are still talking here and that thread is dead. :-)

    While I think Sam could perhaps have chosen his words better I do think Nook’s tone left a lot to be desired. It was a constructive critisism but the tone was sure to get back’s up all round. If Nook had brought up their concerns with a more constructive “let’s talk about this” tone we could have had an interesting discussion about why wearing a dress is supposed to be funny/humiliating for a man (in the mainstream worldview). However that was never going to flow from their narky comment.

    I don’t think there is a problem with tone generally at Skepchick.

  11. Hrm… I’ve always been suspicious of looking for an “X” so we can ask “X” if “Y” offends all “Xes.”
    I heard the other day that all women want to have babies…. I asked my mom about whether or not she wanted to have babies, and she gave me a dumb look since I was once a baby that sprung from her loins. So I guess all women want to have babies.

    Finding an ACTUAL GAY MAN who isn’t offended by the comment, or an actual tranny isn’t going to suddenly prove or disprove that the comment was or was not offensive.

  12. If you really wanted to be a tedious fuck, you could point out that the mere act of letting one person speak for an entire demographic is, in itself, highly offensive.

    If you’re not a tedious fuck, you’d realise that was the whole joke.

    (Not to say that philosophile is a tedious fuck. He/she/it simply happened to comment right above me and call out the silliness of trying to prove something with a single point of data. Which is the other half of the joke, but he’s not a tedious fuck for mentioning it.)

    (Above disclaimer is void except in the 50 US states and Puerto Rico, but not Guam. Guamanians can go jump off a bridge for all I care.)

  13. Like Nook, I found the original line in Sam’s post to be questionable. However, I second Monkia’s opinion that the site has a generally good tone. It’s especially cool that the general attitude here seems to be to take serious criticism fairly seriously, even if it seems unfounded at first glance.

    Skepchick radiates awesome at 8 times the background level.

  14. I seems a little odd to me that a site that professes to be about science offers an argument based on the opinion of one gay man. A sample size of one always makes me say “Pfft”. …Just sayin’.

    (even though I totally agree with Rebecca and Aaron. Get over it.)

  15. Wearing a dress has nothing to do with being gay. Most male transvestites fancy women (see: Eddie izzard). In fact, fuck the bracket. GO. SEE. EDDIE. IZZARD. He rocks.

    Also, I find it amusing that some people are so afraid of offending Gay people and end up offending them accidentally.
    You can’t say bad things about a guy in a dress, it’s homophobic.
    You can’t say bad things about camp voices, it’s homophobic.
    You can’t say bad things about a guy who likes musicals, it’s homophobic.

    NEWSFLASH: Not all gay guys are skipping through a meadow in a pink dress singing “The sound of music” in a squeaky voice!

  16. Actually, the “guamino” is a new theoretical particle supposedly responsible for the presense of snakes on planes. It has yet to be detected, but all the world’s best herpetological physicists are predicting its existence.

    (No, but for serious, every once in a while a snake hitches a ride to Hawaii on a plane, and they always come from Guam.)

  17. Sam, the problem was your statement was too ambiguous for some people. They could read anything they wanted into that statement (you should try writing your own bible sometime).

    Anyway, you should have said something like,
    “Don’t we just have to laugh at a pansy who wears a dress in the service of an invisible being and who wields that kind of power…”

    Then the first commenter, we’ll call him Kevin Bacon, would say, “I thought only assholes used the word ‘pansy'”.

    Then the whole thing would have been smoothed over and we could all hang loose and kick off our Sunday shoes.
    .
    .
    .
    I’m just sayin’

  18. I’m a hetro crossdresser (not as serious as a TV) and I thought that saying the Pope was wearing a dress was just cracking wise.

    What does annoy me is people who holler about “PC” as if it is destroying logic or american morality or whatever. To me, being “PC” is simply good manners — respecting the feelings of another, even if you don’t know exactly what that might entail.

  19. Well, most of the time, bitching about “political correctness” is just code for “I’m sick and tired of being called out on my blatant racism!” See: Carlos Mencia. (Or, better yet, don’t see him.)

  20. You know, you can have a difference of opinion without being a tedious fuck.
    After decades of being the ONLY woman in a department, I can’t tell you how sick I am of being asked “what women think about _____.” And I have seen my (very rare) non-white faculty colleagues get it even worse.
    It’s probably just an age thing, but I’m rather cautious about letting one speak for all.

    So there. Neener.

    and, BTW, I do know this post was a joke, and I really don’t see what all the fuss about Sam’s comments were. I just felt that you were overly hostile in your comments.

  21. You’re absolutely right, and that’s my entire point. I’m just so utterly tired of people who want to take something small and stupid like a joke about the Pope’s clothes and start a goddamned fight over it like it actually matters a damn.

  22. Oh, and I guess I should further add that the main reason I’m so bloody cranky about all this is that it annoys the shit out of me when people insist on feeding obvious trolls, as if they care about being right rather than just feeling superior to everyone else. Anybody who picks a fight over a throwaway gag like that just wants to lord his Moral Rectitude over others; they’re entirely like something else that begins with “rect-“, in that they only ever expel and never intake, and it just seems to me that everybody’s effort would be better spent trying to do something other than run up a down escalator.

  23. CynthiaCd, I am SO happy to hear you defend the concept of “PC”. I couldn’t have said it better than “being “PC” is simply good manners”. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to know I’m not the only person that feels that way.

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