First off, I took that walk down to see the Hand, Foot, and Wand prints and I wanted to share the picture I snapped. A note to anyone going to visit, the trio’s prints are front and center. I wandered around thinking the newer ones would be on the edges, but they really had a place of honor! Anyway, it was really cool, definitely worth a stop if you’re coming to LA.
--WARNING: The following blog, including its comments section, contains some strong language (slurs). As always, it is used within the context of an analytical discussion.--
When I was a junior in high school, I took a Sociology class. The resident loopy Spanish teacher taught the class and unfortunately, she didn’t really know that much about Sociology, so we ended up doing a lot of activities that never really came around to a real point. We were doing a unit on prejudice, and our teacher asked everyone to go up to the chalkboard and write every racial slur we could think up. After about ten minutes, the entire wall-to-wall board was so full we had to use the one on the sidewall. I remember she had to add a couple at the end that no one was gutsy enough to write. My school was predominantly white and everyone, including myself, was hesitant to admit we knew all these words and write them in our classroom, even with something as erasable as chalk. Still to this day, when I help one of my filmmaking friends with his scripts, and I need to quote a line with the “n” word in it, I bleep it out, like a song on the radio. Even in quoting, it just feels wrong.
Speaking with my new roommate a few days ago, we were talking about my job search, and I told him about my upcoming meeting with the Transgender Economic Empowerment Program at the LA Gay and Lesbian Center, however, when I said it, I called it the “center for queers.” I didn’t like saying “gay and lesbian” because that language is, to me, a little old-fashioned. “Gay and lesbian” aren’t really all-encompassing terms either, and though I imagine when the center started, that was probably enough, with the culture of LGBTQ₂ (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning), it seems lacking. The name of the center is not some big issue for me, but all the same, I prefer to use my little nickname for it. When I said this phrase to my roommate though, a straight male, he told me that seemed wrong and he didn’t want to call it that; he was under the impression that “queer” was still a derogatory term. I told him that my friends and I always referred to ourselves as a bunch of “queers,” “fags,” “dykes.” I discussed this interaction with the woman at the center. She wisely pointed out that while there was still a good amount of stigma with the “queer” label for the older generation and the public, the younger generation had clearly embraced it as their own and used it as a tool for empowering our community. This is true, and indeed I would even hesitate to use it around anyone 15 years older than myself, but my friends and I, we own it.
In Chamber of Secrets, we are introduced to the term “Mudblood.” The word is so offensive that Fred and George charge Malfoy and Ron casts the Slug spell that backfires. He explains the term later, saying with disgust, “Dirty blood…Common blood. It’s mad.” This was, of course, also the word that drove the fatal dagger through the heart of Lily and Snape’s friendship. It was proof of a solidified thought, and something that had been there all along, just below the surface. And that’s what all slurs are. They are one group’s belief in its superiority over another. They are the labeling of hatred.
In Deathly Hallows, after years of being called “Mudblood Granger,” Hermione chooses to embrace the phrase. The trio is speaking with Griphook and the discussion turns to the marginalization of goblins under Voldemort’s new regime, but Hermione tells him that goblins, Mudbloods, house-elves, were all in the same boat now. Ron is outraged at this, “Don’t call yourself that!” But she counters, asking “Why shouldn’t I? Mudblood, and proud of it! I’ve got no higher position under this new order than you have, Griphook! It was me they chose to torture, back at the Malfoys’!” Hermione goes through five years of being abused and hurt by this phrase and then, at the height of the war, when she has physically and tangibly suffered for her “dirty blood,” she adopts it as her own.
You just get to a point with these things. For years, idiots yell “fag” across the street at you and you don’t even react. You convince yourself it’s just “their problem” and you don’t let it affect you. But the more you learn about how organized the opposition is, how much the government supports their arcane ways of thinking, the harder it gets to ignore, and you get angry. And so you are that “fag.” You accept that you’ve been labeled and you look around and see who else they’ve stuffed into the corner with you, and while you’re all standing there, you get to talking, you share stories and you figure out how to get out of the corner, together. Because it is one of the funniest little twists that results from hate like that, it often inspires love. My sister called me a “fruity transman” the other day and my heart just swelled up with love for her, of its own accord, because she was celebrating something others would easily cut me down for. And it was nice, to be just a couple of queers, talking on the phone, celebrating.Comments (8)