Friday, April 15, 2005

The G Word

I'm suprised find I've never made an entry here about the issue of church names, because it's one of the basic issues of dealing with, um, Catholic/Orthodox (or Roman/Eastern) ecclesiology. The marketing strategy of these names is obvious and when these names are taken at face value one has to be fanatically careful about maintaining a distinction between "Catholic" and "catholic", and then beating everyone else about the head and ears to maintain it as well. The alternative-- finding other names for the bodies-- just never worked out, and at least one can fall back on the position that the legal names for the bodies in question have a certain standing.

With regards to sexual orientation the problem is much, much worse. Even the phrase "sexual orientation" has problem presuppositions built into it.

Historically the self-terminology for what these days I think I'm supposed to call blacks has been heavily driven by the co-option of these terms into racial epithets. As a result one can date black institutions by their names. With words like "gay" the situation is more complex. Bushnell is wrong if he thinks that the word is neutral; kids around here use it as a pejorative. I'm also a bit surprised that the semiotics of seizing the epithets of persecutors and claiming them as one's own are being ignored. It's an interesting technique, and whether it will succeed in the long run will be interesting to see. In the meantime, it puts a curious color on the way "queer" keeps popping up in his discourse, and on the threat to label me a "breeder".

This last term is an unabashed pejorative. "Straight" people don't use it as a self-description-- at least, nobody I know does. "Queer"? I don't use that word either-- at all. As with "gay", the word is so contaminated with the subtext of sexual deviancy, flaunted or decried, that its denotation is useless. What's odd is this objection to the phrase "homosexual men". It's hard for me to understand the assertion that this is a pejorative, when I specifically chose it in an effort to escape connotation. The message I read from this is that I am not to be allowed that escape.

Well, maybe. At any rate, whether or not this is being a distraction, I'm tired of fighting it. As long as you're willing to sign off that I mean no pejoration by it, you can be "gay" if you want.

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