I know I haven't written in quite a while- over a month, actually. It's partly been because life has been extra-busy recently, and mostly because of the writer's block I've been experiencing. I haven't been able to write anything, but what happened this past Shabbos has forced me to overcome it, at least to write the following.
During lunch on Shabbos, my nephew told me what he wanted to be for Purim. My nephew is quite the little geek, which, of course, makes me ever so proud, me being a geek myself. He went on to say what he wanted his Purim costume to be next year, and the year after that. Suffice it to say that it involved Star Wars and various super heroes. He was very excited, and with much love in my heart, I listened to him talk on and on about his costume ideas.
Suddenly, I hear one of my brothers (the one that I haven't yet come out to) say, "Don't worry, you won't want to be that next year because you won't be such a fag by then."
This was said loudly enough for everyone to hear. I was across the table and I heard it. But no one stopped. No one said a word. Conversation continued to flow without pause, while I sat there, stunned into immobility for about a minute.
There are so many points to be made here, such as, "Being into Star Wars doesn't make you gay," or "'Fag' is a derogatory word." There aren't the points I'm trying to make.
My nephew is seven. Seven. Words have an impact on children. You may not know it, they may not know it (yet), but words get absorbed into our system from a young age. On Shabbos, it wasn't about me being offended that my brother used the word "fag." It was worry- worry for children throughout the Jewish community who grow up with words like this being thrown at them when they don't even understand what it means. And when they do begin to understand- what if they start using these words themselves? What if they realize that they're gay- that they're "fags" or "dykes"- and don't know of any way to understand who they are beyond these words?
Why is this what we're teaching our kids?