I’ve Been Called Every Name In the Book At One Point Or Another

by Robbie Romu on April 27, 2014

(in-ten-shuh-n) noun
the end or object intended; purpose

Twice this past week us gays have been up in arms over perceived homophobia by the straights. We’ve stomped our feet angrily, sent nasty tweets and decried the use of language we find offensive.

First, it was a billboard in St. John’s by Opera on the Avalon promoting their run of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which read, “Filled with more Fairies than St. John’s on Pride Day.” Then it was Madonna on Buzzfeed using the word “gay” to describe kale.


MadonnaReally? This is the sort of thing we are getting outraged about these days? The billboard is very obviously a play on words designed to be funny and not offensive. And Madonna? Really? It is hard to imagine anyone who has been more supportive of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights over the past 30 years than she has. I wish we could lighten up a little bit and recognize that there is a big difference between a cleverly worded double entendre or a tongue in cheek throwaway and hate speech. There has to be room for intention –  in society as a whole and within our own LGBT community. This ad did not intend to offend and Madonna wasn’t calling us names. The outrage says more about the “outraged” than it does about the people it is being directed at.

Yes, I get it. I understand why referring to something as “gay” in a negative context or ascribing feminine traits to homosexual men (which is the issue most people had with the billboard) is an issue that we need to continue to address. “That’s so gay,” in the wrong hands, is a problem. Madonna, calling kale “gay,” is not a problem.

I’ve been called every name in the book at one point or another, Fairy, Faggot, Queer, Queen, Gaylord, Cocksucker, Ass Bandit, Knob Gobbler… I can always tell if the intention is to harm. If somebody calls me an offensive name and its usage is designed to hurt or diminish or make me feel “less than” then I have a right to be upset and challenge the choice of language. I have an obligation, to myself and everyone else who struggles for equality, to say, “Hey, that’s not OK,” or “Fuck you, Motherfucker, call me that again and I will throw my nail polish in your face and light in on fire!” But, if it’s just a joke, then perhaps I can relax and not be a jerk about it.

“But, Robbie,” some will cry. “What’s a joke to you may not be joke to somebody else!” Yeah, I know. People need to lighten up. Haven’t we taken this whole Politically Correct (PC) thing as far as it needs to go? The rules about what’s OK to say and what isn’t change faster than a drag queen between numbers and it is impossible to keep up.  The bigger risk is becoming so PC, so righteous and indignant over every little thing, that people stop listening to the shit that really matters.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Gangitano April 20, 2018 at 5:04 pm

Robbie, thank you for your recent story about your weight loss experience. I was afraid to read the comments left by readers because internet anonymity gives way to ignorant rhetoric. I was surprised by the majority of positive comments. Body shaming is certainly not exclusive to any one community, but to our western values of beauty as a whole. Place the gay microcosm over that and for us, the perfect storm is created.

As a married, gay man of 54, the cloak of invisibility grows more opaque every year. As we are both learning, feelings about our own outward beauty is an inside job but I don’t think I’ll ever reconcile my perception of my own. I have an average height and weight but all I’d like is to look like you.

Strength lies in resisting what it is we’re told we need and how we should look in order to receive it. I believe until I cease to look for acknowledgment beyond my own nose, true body acceptance will elude me. And we all know what happens when we go looking for our heart’s desire beyond our own back yard…


Robbie Romu April 21, 2018 at 9:33 pm

Hi Michael. Thank you so much for taking the time to write me. It means a lot. I’m so happy that my article resonated with you. My only hope in writing my story and sharing it with the world is that I can somehow affect change. We’re all so afraid to talk about how we feel, that we hurt, and it makes us feel so isolated and alone. We’re all works in progress and as long as I am still working, I guess I’m making progress. I wish you all the best on your continued journey. Cheers.


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