Am I a Faggot?

Let me spell out the answer

by George M. Johnson

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George 5[dropcap]F[/dropcap]inally the day had come. I had waited four months since her announcement at the SuperBowl and I wasn’t going to disappoint. As I got dressed up for the “Greatest Living Entertainer,” aka Beyoncé, I knew what I was about to get myself into. For years, I dreamed of dressing how I wanted to dress, living how I wanted to live, but afraid of the projection and questions my family, friends, and others would have to answer on my behalf. Afraid of the shunning, and disassociation of people from my circle because I had decided that conformity would no longer be a disease that I could bear to live with. It was at the Beyoncé concert that I finally decided to get “In Formation” with myself, and I went for it. The long-sleeved croptop creation done by revitalizing an old shirt was all set to go. The jeans made of stretch denim and tighter than a fitted sheet were ready too. A pair of black boots and a black sunhat big enough to cast shade to every phobic person who would be in the building. This outfit was thirty years of the little boy with no voice who finally became who he was always supposed to be. The “faggot” was now free. Unapologetic and ready to take the world on his own terms.

Faggot. Just writing the word makes me cringe some on the inside. There are truly not enough fingers and toes to count how many times I or many of my friends have been called this term. During the fight for marriage equality, I thought that the term “faggot” had reached the ultimate peak of use, until the tragic events of June 12 at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The worst massacre in U.S. history, leading to forty-nine dead, and over fifty more injured members of the LGBTQ community, specifically Latinx and Black, brought some of the world’s worst to the forefront. A time when humanity should overrule hilarity, it didn’t. The “radical Christians” used this as a reminder that those who are “wicked” shall face the perils of events such as these. The FDA used this as a reminder that our blood isn’t good enough to support our brothers and sisters, continuing the stigma of HIV, sexual promiscuity, and hate speech that aided these attacks. Thankfully, as a leader in my community, I use this moment to not let those deaths and injuries be in vain, and place power in the words that “faggot” hate speech creates.

Placing power in the word.

My F stands for being fearless and fabulous. For many of us, getting dressed every day is a revolutionionary act within itself, and events like these serve as a reminder that we cannot allow ourselves to be closeted by tragedy.

My A is for awareness. Awareness of who I am and following my natural feelings of gender and sex. Awareness of my surroundings and those who hide in bushes waiting for their chance to attack my existence.

My G is for the “grit”-and-bear-it mentality that I must take with me every day. There are definitely some days where giving up seems to be the best solution, but my existence matters too much. The fight for LGBTQ children who are not even a twinkle in their parents’ eyes matter too much.

My G is for galvanizing. During times like these we have to come together. When we are attacked, we must come back stronger than ever before. We must love, support, trust, and protect one another.

My O is for optimism. I have to continue to have hope for the future. I am seeing a country unite around a community that has far too often been marginalized, oppressed, and forced into silence and secrecy. I can only now hope that our narrative be told by us and our stories be shared, appreciated, and accepted.

My T is time. Time heals all wounds. People who once called me “faggot” now call me “friend” and “family.” Time allows us to grieve and grow. Time allows us to think and reflect on being better versions of ourselves. Time is also precious, and should be used to live life every day like it is the last.

Because of my intersectionality, I place power in the word “faggot” similar to how many in my community placed power back in the word “nigger” or “nigga.” So yes I am truly a “faggot” in every way, and me and my LGBTQ brothers, sisters, and non-identifying siblings plan on continuing to live this way for a long time to come.

We are faggots. So deal with it!


 

George M. Johnson is an HIV advocate who works for Us Helping Us, People into Living, Inc., located in Washington, D.C. He has written for Pride.com, Musedmagonline.com, Blavity.com, Rolereboot.org, and Ebony.com. Follow him on Twitter @IamGMJohnson.