As per tradition, my brother-in-law, Debate Dude, and his partner, Tea Dude, are here for Christmas with my Mother-in-law, Purple Lady. As should be obvious, Debate Dude and Tea Dude are gay.
Little Dude, who, as discussed before, is the most moral, ethical, and accepting person I’ve ever known, had a weird conversation with Debate Dude, which I only caught second hand. Apparently, Little Dude asked Debate Dude if he could call him “Gay Boy.” Debate Dude’s response was, as you might imagine, not positive. Debate Dude then said something along the lines of, “Sure, if I can call you ‘Fidget’.” Little Dude, believing in all things fair and having a sense that in family, love trumps all things so “Fidget” wouldn’t be mean, agreed, blowing Debate Dude’s plan to teach him a lesson.
I fear much of this was my fault, in an indirect way. In our house, we are so open about things which others find offensive, and please hear me loud and clear when I scream that homosexuality should never be offensive to anyone even though assholes find it so, that I think Little Dude assumed he could go anywhere and say anything to his Uncle(s). He didn’t imagine that Debate Dude would compare “Gay Boy” to the “N Word”. Here, at home, I call my bipolar self batshit crazy all the time. We talk about being godless heathens in our atheism. I will absolutely grant that we never make fun of Little Dude’s Tourette’s, but we do play with his ADHD, his sister’s social anxiety, Big Dude’s anger issues. I’ve always felt that getting these things out on the table at home, in an environment of love and acceptance, provides a sort of armor against a world that can be merciless. We are not hateful with each other, we are loving and kind and teasing in the way that only cohesive and healthy families can be.
So when Little Dude hit Debate Dude with “Gay Boy,” he didn’t mean to be nasty with a vile slur. Debate Dude doesn’t understand our little family’s circle of trust and Little Dude didn’t understand Debate Dude’s complicated history and present life. Context, as they say, is everything.