A few days ago one of my friends James called to say hello.
As our conversation started on it’s roll, turning us mentally into the college students we once were, he uttered “shut-up you pansy fag”. And then there was silence. He started to stutter and then apologize and I could tell he was turning all shades of red.
It was a phrase that we casually threw around, as a playful insult. Only now, the very word makes me cringe.
He kept apologizing, saying he didn’t mean anything by it. He said that he was just teasing.
Lately words like this really cut to the core. And I felt a flush come to my face and I felt my whole body tense and I was also speechless. I kept telling him it was okay, that no harm, no foul. I kept telling him to stop apologizing and that it was nothing. But there was a huge part of me that felt frustrated that the word would be used even as a playful insult. The more he tried to apologize, the closer I was brought to tears.
He continued with his apology…”that’s not such a cool word is it. I don’t think it ever was or ever should be”. He continued by saying that right after he uttered it this time, he realized how derogatory the word actually is, that it was insulting and should never be used. He apologized again and because of the sincerity in his voice, I no longer felt tense. Something inside him clicked and he understood.
And this is why I cried. I have come only a few steps on this little journey of mine, but many of my friends are making this journey with me. I may have changed a little, but so have they. They changed and became better friends.