Joined: 12 Mar 2006
Location: My office
|Posted: Sat Jan 27, 2007 11:26 pm Post subject: Sticks and Stones
|An enlightening article written by my friend Karel Bouley
Sticks and Stones
Oh God, here we go again, another non-controversy turning in to a huge to-do. Another instance that should have happened, been dealt with, and then forgotten has now become headline news in an ongoing saga. No, it’s not Rosie and Donald. It’s T.R. and Isaiah.
Now for those that don’t know, and I hope that is quite a bit of you, there’s a very successful show called “Grey’s Anatomy.” On it, George (TR Knight) and Dr. Burke (Isaiah Washington) are friends, actually. But, in a backstage, made-for-the-tabloid moment Washington made a comment to the tune of “I’m not like your little faggot TR…” to co-star Patrick Dempsey (McDreamy)who then came to blows with him. The next day, T.R. Knight was basically forced to come out, given the controversy. He had not planned it, it wasn’t on his agenda, but this fight (in which Dempsey sprung to his defense, not that he needed it) brought it all out.
Then the apologies started, the statements of regret, the standard form 101-A now in every agent and manager’s drawer due to the amount of stars with foot-in-mouth disease properly filled out and given to the press. And it was over, right? Guess again.
I was at the Golden Globes at the Beverly Hilton on January 15, 2007. “Grey’s Anatomy” won for best series, so all the cast went backstage. I was in and out of the interview room they call it, but went it to see the cast. As they Q and A began with the entire cast, the Washington / Knight controversy came up. Washington grabbed the mike and said that he did not, in fact, call TR a fagot on the show. So, a denial of a previously apologized for event, now, that’s confusing and, it would appear, offensive.
I saw Katherine Heigl storm through the lobby of the hotel, looking like a fairy princess on a tirade, assistant carrying the train of her dress as she expressed her discontent to another next to her. She was mad at Washington for saying the word again. And as much as I as a gay man appreciate that, she, and others, are way off base here.
First, there’s two issues. The first is the original fight. If, as reported by TR Knight on the Ellen Show the day after the Golden Globes, Washington did provoke a fight by calling Knight a faggot, then there’s that issue. Today’s workplace is so sanitized of anything that might be offensive, this word counts right up there with the N-one. I think Washington got his due when Dempsey railed on him. He called Knight a name, Dempsey punched him, enough said, battle over. But oh no. Not today. Today, he must go to some sort of rehab for offensive people, because in the land of the free the one thing we are not is free to be offensive. How tragic is that. We forget freedom has a price. And if I am free to say what I want about, let’s say, government, then someone is also free to call me a disparaging name. Well, in theory. I mean, in theory, in the land of the free, people are free to be bigots. But not today. No, today we try to legislate and litigate bigotry right out of anybody. People are no longer free to be racists, bigots, homophobes, at least not in public, and certainly not at the office.
I’d like to say that’s a good thing, but you see, I can’t. I can’t because in the real world people are free to be what they want and we don’t have to agree with it. Washington didn’t fire Knight from the show, didn’t hinder his ability to make a living, he was just being an asshole. Well, people are assholes at times. It’s not illegal, yet. And luckily, he got the tar beaten out of him, as he deserved. Should make him think twice about any other slurs.
But let’s talk about the Globes. Why are people upset that he said the word there? He wasn’t calling anybody the word this time. He was clarifying what was and was not said. He said “I did not call TR a faggot.” What was he supposed to say? “I did not call TR the F-word?” “I did not call TR an epithet based on his sexuality…” He was accused of calling someone a faggot, and then wanted to say he did not call someone that word. So, he shouldn’t say that word? It’s like being accused of painting something red and then not being able to say the color.
I’ve been a victim of this myself. On my radio show on KGO 810 San Francisco, I covered the Michael Richards melt down. Now, to do it, I said the word Richards had said, to open a debate as to whether or not the word should be removed from all language (as I believe it should). I did not call anybody the name, but because I’m white, suddenly, I cannot use the word even editorially. That’s reverse racism. If Blacks can use it and White’s can’t, that’s reverse racism. The same with faggot. If Isaiah were gay, there wouldn’t be this hubbub. Gay men use this word all the time, calling each other as either a term of endearment or a derogatory remark. But straight people? Oh no, you cannot use it at all. It’s our word.
Well I, for one am sick of these lame, weak arguments on both sides. First of all, call me whatever you want, just don’t beat me while doing it, fire me for it, incite violence against me because of it…you get the point. Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me. Calling me a faggot isn’t an insult, it’s an observation. I am a faggot.
Secondly, Washington wasn’t calling anyone that name that night, so stop the hoopla over that event. Go back to the fight on the set. His words incited violence, and that makes them actionable, that and only that. But what action? Rehab. OH PLEASE. Will stars stop going to rehab for everything they do wrong. Next Martha will have to go for burning a chicken.
Washington needs one of two things: he either needs to work in an industry that isn’t littered with faggots…try longshoreman...or he needs to keep his big trap shut. He’s not sorry, truly, he’s not. Meeting with GLAAD? Who cares? Like they speak for me or anybody in the community. I’m sure he woke up that morning and said I have to go have this stupid meeting with this queer organization so all this crap will blow over. Then, as an actor, he smiled appropriately, seemed sincere, and moved on.
And gay people, here’s a news flash: people are bigots. People are homophobic. And they are allowed to be. It’s terrible, but true. You know when Washington will change? When he has a friend, I mean a real friend, that is gay. When he is emotionally invested in someone that is gay or lesbian. Suddenly, his homophobia will change. Or maybe it never will. Maybe he’s just a no-faggot tolerating kind of guy. So shun him Hollywood. Let him know he’s free to be that, he’s just not welcomed in a community whose wheels are oiled with gay goodness.
And let’s move on. There are so many important gay issues out there right now, this is not one of them. There are so many battles to fight against people that smile to our face one moment and then legislate against us the next. They are the real enemy. At least we know where Washington stands. It’s the ones that pledge their support and then go vote against you that we need to find out and expose. Or worse, it’s the politicians that speak out against gay people, the Pastors that preach against us, and then get caught with their pants down and another man in the room. If Washington were on the Down Low and still behaving like this, all right, then there’s a beef. But as it is, well, we can’t make everybody like us, nor can we make everybody not call us a bad name. Because I want the right to call him one, let’s say, asshole, and I don’ want that right taken away.
Washington does a good job as Dr. Burke. So shut up and act already. If he does it again in the workplace, fire him. But if he’s out at a party, well, get over it because as much as we would like everybody to be politically correct, they aren’t.
Saying a word is not a crime and when we reach a point where it is, we should be very afraid. Unfortunately, the First Amendment protects him, too. I know, it’s horrible, but it does. It doesn’t just protect speech with which we agree, it protects speech we detest. That’s the problem with freedom, it goes both ways. And as long as his use of his freedom didn’t cost anybody anything, meaning a job, his livelihood or physical well being, well, then Washington, you get a pass. But remember, next time you want to utter such a word, we’ve got many for people of color, many you don’t want to hear. Think about how quickly you would have been at the producer’s door if Knight had said, oh, I’m not your step-and-fetch it Ni**er like Isaiah…You would have come unglued. So why not use a little of that righteous glue to keep you big mouth shut.
And to my gay brethren, please, fight another battle. This one is just plain silly.
MY BARF is TASTIER than Yours!!!