Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Slacking again - sorry about that, but I don't have much to say

So a story about a minor incident that occurred today at the gym I go to will have to suffice - and I warn you now - it is not very exciting, but at least it's not about the earthquake that shook the eastern part of this country today.

Let me start by saying that living in Arizona, surrounded by a lot of retired wealthy people who feed on a steady diet of Fox News and CNBC is hard. But it certainly presents a lot of teaching moments as well. These people most definitely lean way to the right side of the political spectrum and fear of losing their hard-earned money to "socialistic" ideas like supporting the "moochers" and "deadbeat lazy leeches" is their main concern, with fears of "illegal aliens" and Obama taking their guns away running a close second.

I confess, it is often really, really tough to maintain my composure when having a conversation with some of these people, but I work damn hard at doing just that. You see, I actually like most of these people. Deep down, they are pretty decent people (other than their odious political views), so I work really hard to keep my cool and not lose it. Listening to them parrot the nonsense drivel they've heard from the likes of Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity gets kind of old, but it's really a small price to pay if I can maintain a friendship and possibly change their minds on an issue or two.

I listen, I engage them in spirited debate, and I remain respectful and calm (which for me can be a real challenge, cuz I can be a hothead). I make damn sure I have my facts down straight. I have no idea if I succeed in moving any of these people to reconsider their stances, but I do know I get them to think of things in a new light. So who knows? I may occasionally be changing some hearts and minds along the way.

But today something happened that really got me ticked. And I almost lost my cool. A gentleman I've known for many years came over to say hi. He had a bunch of band-aids all over his face and arms and when I asked him what had happened he told me he'd just been to the dermatologist and had a bunch of skin cancer excised or frozen. The many years of unprotected sun exposure had finally come back to haunt him.

I asked him who he went to and if he liked him. He scrunched up his face and gave me the doctor's name and told me he wasn't crazy about him. When I asked him why, he told me he was too gay.

Uh boy. I had to take a very deep breath before responding. And upon exhaling I asked him if it was because the doctor was gay that he felt the man was a bad doctor. He got very defensive and very embarrassed and quickly began assuring me he really wasn't homophobic or anything like that. And then he added that he had a hard time talking to this doctor and that is why he thought he wasn't a good doctor, to which I responded that maybe it was him that had the problem and not the doctor. He looked me in the eye and said, "maybe you are right".

Did I give him food for thought? I'm not sure. Will he make a homophobic remark like that to me again? For his sake, I hope not. But one thing about this conversation did give me hope. I don't believe this man is a froth-at-the-mouth homophobe, confronting him on his discomfort being around a gay man embarrassed him. Real homophobes wear their homophobia with pride. This man did not. 


Wormwood's Doxy said...

He got very defensive and very embarrassed and quickly began assuring me he really wasn't homophobic or anything like that.

"I'm not against gay people, BUT...."

"I'm not a racist, BUT...."

"I'm not a sexist, BUT..."

Why do people even bother spouting that drivel? Don't they realize they make liars of themselves every time they add that "but"?

Good on you for confronting him, SM! And good on him for admitting he might be the problem. The proof in the pudding will be the way he interacts with you from now on....and whether or not he goes back to his doctor!

Jarred said...

Real homophobes wear their homophobia with pride.

I think it's more complicated than that. I've met homophobes who avoid the word "homophobe" like the plague, along with anything else that might suggest they're not a "really nice person." But the rest of their words and deeds betray that lie pretty quickly.

Though I agree with you, calling this guy a homophobe would be a mistake.

And then he added that he had a hard time talking to this doctor and that is why he thought he wasn't a good doctor...

The sad thing is, there's actually a valid point in this. You should feel comfortable with a doctor you are seeing -- especially one treating you for cancer. And there are valid reasons to feel uncomfortable with a doctor and seek out a different one. But "not being able to talk to him because he's too gay" does not qualify as one of those valid reasons.

I thought you handled the situation beautifully.

Tracy said...

The only thing I love more than hearing these types of stories, is living them...

These are my two favorites:



Seething Mom said...

Thank you all for commenting. I am kind of scaring myself lately because I am now to the point where I absolutely will not allow an ignorant comment based solely on bigotry get by me. My fear is handling it in a way that does more harm than good.

So with that said, please go over to Tracy's blog, Gin-Soaked Olive, and read this post and this post for lessons on how to handle these people like a pro. Both posts are extremely entertaining and fun reads. Plus I will bet that many of you can identify with both stories. I know I did.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Tracy--I love, love, LOVE your blog! I am so grateful to you for posting those links. I have put you in my reader and look forward to hearing more from you.

SM--I'm sorry for the commenting drama. (I had to go to moderation for some of the same reasons.) But I think you have created a really lovely space here. I hope that the good you do by blogging gives you lots of satisfaction...


Anonymous said...

I was in a department store once and there were two sales persons working. Both were twenty something one female and the other a very cute obviously gay young man. I went to pay and the young girl checked me out and the young man walked away. She immediately began making fun of him doing the limp wrist thing etc...! Needless to say I was extremely upset of course she did not know I had a gay son about the same age. I simply told her I thought she was extremely rude and intended to complain about her before I left. She seemed shocked, as I am sure she got away with this all the time. People need to learn you never know who you are talking too. I never did complain but instead left feeling hurt and upset that there are people who think it is OK to treat people so badly. I wish people would just treat each other better and not be so mean! - Sallie