What’s In A Name?



“Stick and stones may break my bones ... ”

The first time my neighborhood bully called me a sissy, my mother taught me this tune. The next time, I sang it to the boy. He laughed at me even harder. I was probably 5 or 6. And it hurt my feelings to have someone call me this ... because I was a sissy. And I knew it. I liked to play with girls, jumping rope, roller-skating, and playing hopscotch. Apparently, boys weren’t supposed to do these things. And I didn’t understand why.

The first time someone called me a fag, I didn’t tell my mother. Nor did I sing her happy tune in my defense. I was 12. The bully in question would have probably kicked my ass. Again, it hurt my feelings ... because I was a fag. And I knew it. I liked to hang out with girls, eating lunch, listening to records, and talking about which jeans we liked best: Calvins or Jordache? Apparently, boys didn’t do these things. This time I understood why.

The word “fag” followed me around all through junior high and into high school. There I learned another expression: “band fag.” The difference with this term was that everyone who played in the school band was labeled one — including the heterosexual (and totally hot!) senior sax player who was also captain of varsity wrestling and whom the entire school had elected homecoming king. But as one of the gay kids in band, I heard only the word “fag” every time someone said “band fag.”

This is what I think a lot of people are doing when it comes to my book, Band Fags!

For those who aren’t up to speed: Shortly before I released my debut novel in June 2008, I set up a fan page on Facebook. Almost two years later I had amassed a 200 fans. Last week I received a message from Facebook saying my page had been removed, as it violated policy by being “obscene” and “hateful,” etc. etc. The Advocate got word of what happened (thanks to my good friend Kenneth “in the 212” Walsh) and posted an article online, which got me and my book some attention — and afforded me the opportunity to be writing this now.

Most of the comments that followed were in my support ... but a lot were not.

It seems that the word “fag” still hits a sore spot with many of my gay brethren. Since news got out about the Band Fags! fan page being removed from Facebook, I’ve been accused of being a “self-hating” homosexual who uses “evil” words to poke fun at my own people. The title of my book has been described as “offensive,” and several folks have vowed not to read it because of what it’s called. Which is unfortunate, because I believe anyone who’s ever been called a “band fag” (and especially a “fag”) will totally relate to the tale.

Tags: Books