‘That’s so gay’ | SummitDaily.com

‘That’s so gay’

JULIE SUTORsummit daily news

Very few local gays have encountered overt violence or hateful speech related to their sexual orientation. But the absence of blatant homophobia doesn’t mean it’s easy being gay.About 95 percent of Summit County’s gay community is in the closet, according to Western Colorado AIDS Project organizer Jeff Basinger, who has worked with the local gay population extensively through HIV-prevention outreach. They fear people will judge, ridicule or discriminate against them on the basis of their sexual orientation.And casual use of words like “gay,” “faggot,” “queer” and “homo” as insults only reinforces those fears.”With all the gay jokes and comments, most (gay people) have developed a pretty thick shell, because we hear it all the time,” said Travis Shore, a local hospitality worker. “I don’t think people mean it as a slur, but it bugs the s— out of me.”And people who hurl gay-related taunts don’t often realize when they’re stinging someone, since so many gays aren’t open about their sexual orientation.”Would you make a wheelchair joke if you were sitting next to someone with a physical handicap?,” Shore asked. “When I’m sitting next to you, and you’re just going on and on, I wish you would realize what you’re doing.”We don’t all fit the stereotypes. I’m not running around in a pink tutu. Some of the most masculine men I know jump the tracks,” Shore added.And homophobic language creates a vicious cycle of intolerance and lack of acceptance. If it keeps gay people from being open about their sexual orientation, there are fewer opportunities for straight people to grapple with issues related to homosexuality.”The stereotypes and misinformation gets in the way of meeting really wonderful people they could call their friends,” Basinger said. “One in 10 people has had a same-sex relationship at some point. That person you’ve known for years has probably never mentioned the relationship he had with a roommate in college, never mentioned her relationship with a woman in the Air Force.”

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