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"I had a friend over and she said something was "for homos" while one of my roommates, who might be gay, was within hearing distance without us realizing at the time. Neither of us has anything against gay people and I knew she was using the phrase in a completely sarcastic way, so I didn’t think to call her out on it. But now I’m worried my potentially gay roommate thinks I’m a homophobic idiot and won’t ever come out, esp since we live in a pretty homophobic place. Am I overthinking this?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

I think… If I were you, I’d go up to her and say VERY QUICKLY, “hey, listen, my friend said ‘for homos’ the other day and now I’m terrified that you think we’re homophobic idiots and like, I don’t know your life and maybe your bff is gay or your brother or your mom or whatever and I just, I don’t want you to think that because that’s not true and we love everyone and she was just kidding slash being dumb and you probably didn’t even hear it, but I’ve been obsessing about it and I even asked everyoneisgay.com what to do bc i was so stressed out and so now i’m just blurting out my feelings i’m sorry, i’m not hateful, i swear”

… I dunno if that’ll work, but like, at least your feelings will be out there and you won’t feel like your roomie is uncomfortable anymore, you know? You might feel like she thinks you’re completely weird, but WHO ISN’T COMPLETELY WEIRD, YOU KNOW?

Generally, people aren’t offended if you apologize for something that doesn’t apply to them. Does that make sense? If the tables were turned and your roomie’s friend made a gay joke, you would feel 1000x better if she apologized, even tho you aren’t gay… you know? There are no limits when it comes to being respectful to those around you. You’re doing great.

Kristin Says:

Ohhhhhh sarcasm, you tricky little devil, you.

I think this question brings to light the trouble with words and phrases. Saying something is “for homos” is funny to some people whether they or gay or straight or bi or trans or pan or asexual or WHATEVER, without necessarily being an indicator of how they feel when they aren’t trying to make someone laugh. Their brain is like, this is what I know I mean, but this is why I think it is a funny play on words, and then sometimes the brains of other people are like ‘oh hahahaha i know what you mean,’ and everything goes according to plan. The problem, though, is that not everyone is going to agree with their sarcasm, not everyone is going to GET their sarcasm, and some people are going to be truly insulted by what they THINK was meant, or by the fact that NO MATTER WHAT THEY MEANT YOU SHOULDN’T JOKE AROUND WITH A WORD LIKE HOMO.

Do you get what I mean? We all approach these things differently, so I want to just caution all y’all: generally, jokes including words or phrases like homo or gay or {insert other hot button words here} are best left unsaid unless you are with your BFF and you know they know you and you know they will get the MANY LAYERS of your comedy and not understand or misunderstand it as one-dimensional.

Jesus. I am trying so hard to communicate my feelings without pissing you guys off.

SO THAT ALL SAID: 1) Talk to your friend about being more cautious with those kinds of phrases, regardless of her intent. 2) It doesn’t matter the sexuality of your roommate. All you have to do is own the fact that your friend said something that might be offensive to ANYONE. Talking to them is the best move – just a quick simple apology that your friend was tossing around insensitive words is perfect and will communicate the message clearly.

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"i’m not gay myself, but i do whatever i can to support the gay community. however, i feel very narrow minded and closed off. sometimes i have trouble understanding certain things like, if a woman is a virgin and she’s a lesbian, is the first time she has sex with a woman considered losing her virginity? and how, if there’s no penetration? i would really appreciate any tips on how to become more open & accepting."

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

Virginity is so weird bc like… it’s mostly a religious thing and I think in a lot of cases it just means an unmarried girl… which is weird bc like boys can be virgins and also what about girls who do it and are unmarried? like… what’s that about? Also, the word in general has changed over time bc basically if you have sexi you’re not a virg, regarless of what kind of sexi you have…. but then what about mouth sexi and hand sexi, does that count? YOU GUYS WHO KNOWS.

I think that knowing what it means and how it pertains to other people is not as important as having respect for the people with differing beliefs. Like, if you have a friend who’s a complete gaywad and is like ‘oh yea, i’m totally not a virgin i’m a gay girl who puts her body parts on other gay girls classifying me as a not virgin’ (i realize this is an awkward sentence and like WHO WOULD SAY THAT) … REGARDLESS, what they say is what they believe and what they believe is not wrong because it is their belief and it is specific to them… ya know?

Society is weird and it tells us that there are certain ways to do and say things and we just sit back and let it happen. I think that’s fine, it’s totally fine for all of us to want to be on the same page about what stuff means, but it’s also awesome if you can step back and say ‘ya know what, this is what it means to most people in society but to my friend it means something different and i respect the shit outta that’ right?

Kristin Says:

Amen to the above words by Senorita Owens-Reid. I used to be of the opinion that you lost your virginity when you felt like you lost your virginity… because I can tell you that I did a bunch of things with ladies but there was a SPECIFIC TIME when I was like, well, that was that and I am no longer a virgin… However, now I just think it’s silly that we all use that word as though it really holds any meaning whatsoever. WHY DO WE HAVE A WORD TO DESCRIBE WHEN A PEOPLE’S BODY PARTS ARE MUSHED TOGETHER?!

It’s like, if you were to ask me the color of my shirt, I could tell you it’s grey. No hesitation. If you ask me what the meaning of the word virgin is… it would take me a thesis paper to unpack all the history, confusion and mixed messages. So. First step is, let’s just quit it with that silly word and do our sexi times with our sexi partners and have fun and be done with it all.

Second part. You having questions like the above does not make you close-minded. Asking questions, and saying, “Hey, I have this belief and it conflicts with your belief, so can you explain to me more about your belief so I can work this all out?” is a fucking INCREDIBLE thing, so you just need to keep on doin’ what your doin’. If anyone gives you flack for asking questions, that is their issue. I promise you that if you were to ask me questions I would answer them and thank you for asking them in the first place. Now… if after I gave you my answer you looked at me like this:

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"I’m a straight actor, playing a lesbian, is there anything I should consider in my characterization? I don’t know much about lesbian culture."

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

Whatever you do, DON’T PLAY A LESBIAN.

There is nothing more frustrating that watching someone try to ‘act gay.’

You are an actor playing the role of a human. This is 100% about the type of person your character is and not who she is boning. Maybe she is a little more ‘masculine’ than you are on a daily basis, perhaps you lead with your shoulders instead of your chest or you lead with your chin instead of your forehead.

I’ve played straight characters in love and I’ve played gay characters in love, the differences in those characters had very little to do with who I was in love with, you know? I was a southern lady who wore jeans and t-shirts and thought jesus was speaking to me from my refrigerator and the fact that I was in love with a man had very little to do with how I was acting, knawmean?

This sounds stupid, but you should watch the L word. Look at these women, some ‘masculine’ some ‘feminine’ and see how each of them carry themselves differently NOT because of who they make out with, but because of who they are as people. It’s not really about being gay or straight, it’s about playing your character and telling her story in a way that does her some justice, ya know?

Kristin Says:

Listen, how about you just watch any movie ever made that has incredible acting, and go from there? From what I remember…acting is about your motivations, your history as a human, and remembering what the hell stage left means.

Dannielle already said it, but I shall repeat: You cannot ‘play gay.’ If you even so much as attempt that, you are doing a disservice to yourself as an actor, and to a whole bunch of humans who identify as lesbian…and a whole bunch of humans who identify as a whole bunch of other things, each in their own way.

Go on over to our Your Stories channel, and you’ll see instantly that there is no such thing as a ‘lesbian character.’ Some lesbians play chess, some sing songs, some are platinum blonde, some are obsessed with the TV show ‘The Smurfs,’ and others love cheeseburgers topped with egg, pineapple and beets (points at self).

Figure out what your character wants, go after it, and use a Southern accent.

…FOR FUN.

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"I’m straight, but damn sick of homophobia. At my school, everyone is afraid of the gays and makes totally rude comments towards anyone who acts ‘gay’. I’ve stood up and spoke out against homophobia many times, once i even got in a fist fight over it. But nothing i ever say or do gets through, and i just end up being terrorized as well. How can i stop this, and make a difference?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

AMEN SISTER.

The thing I’ve learned via life and knowing ignorant people is THIS:

You can rarely get through to them.

I don’t agree in fighting fire with fire, I think it’s the opposite of productive. If someone is yelling at you, and you yell back at them the argument doesn’t end, they don’t understand your point of view any better and they certainly aren’t “changed.”

HERE IS WHAT YOU CAN DO: Help. Don’t fight the people who are ignorant, help the people who aren’t. Join or start-up a GSA, if you’re already apart of the GSA, get them to join together with the Theatre Department and do a project based on awareness. Get Everyone is Gay to come to your school. When someone yells ‘fag’ at someone in the hallway, don’t go push that guy into a locker, go to the kid who just got yelled at and apologize on behalf of the asshole. You’ll make a way bigger difference that way.

You have no idea how much you can help just by being nice and caring and passionate towards those who are being terrorized instead of drawing attention to those who are doing the terrorizing. Deep down, if someone is yelling ‘fag’ it’s because they want people to turn and look at them. It’s annoying and they are wrong and we all know that, but those are the people that are sometimes impossible to get through to, which is why taking the other side, and trying to make everyone else feel a little better might be the better decision.

Kristin Says:

I agree with most of what Dannielle is saying up there; so much change can be made by focusing on the positive and encouraging the good in life to grow and build.  I do think that it is much, much more difficult to get through to those people who are making rude comments, but I don’t want to completely deter you from trying.

First of all, don’t be so certain that nothing you are saying is getting through.  Just because these people at your school are still spitting out hatred left and right does not mean that your efforts are completely wasted.  It might be two years from now that one of those kids looks back and remembers the message you were trying to encourage…and that inspires them to take a step forward in a positive direction as well.

Second of all, like Dannielle said, don’t fight fire with fire.  If someone yells ‘fag’ down the hallway at you, or your friends, don’t scream back right away.  Look them in the eyes if you can, let them know just by looking at them how hurt and disappointed you are, and walk away.  Then, if you can manage to talk to them at a later point, even if only for a second, try just saying, ‘Hey, I know you have your own opinions on things, but what you say really hurts me.  I can’t make you stop, but I just want you to know that it would be really awesome if you did.’

Now, listen.  That might not work, and it might just make this person or these people get after you even more.  If so, try to stay strong and remember that you are fighting the good fight.  Remember that Dannielle and I and the 30,000 people who read this site are all behind you, and we are all going to continue to help each other until these changes happen for everyone, everywhere.  Then do all of those amazing and positive things that Dannielle mentioned above, and don’t give up hope.  We will do this.

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“There is a new boy at my school who is a transvestite. He dresses like a girl and the first time I saw him I totally thought it was a girl. When I found out it was a boy nothing changed in my mind but I am just slightly confused. When talking to him do I say him or her? I don't want to be rude and I do not want to offend him. How should I address this situation? Also, some kids at my school are not very accepting and there is some bullying going on. How can I approach him and talk without making it seem like I;m being rude/judgmental? Thanks! :)”

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

Listen, the fact that you’re approaching him to talk automatically makes you not rude or judgmental. I’m going to refer to your SOON TO BE NEW BFF as ‘he’ to make my answer less confusing for you :)

I think all you need to do is go up to him and ask. I know it’s not that simple and it will feel awkward, but honestly if you just sit next to him at lunch and start a convo about where he is from, who he has for math, whatever and then be like ‘listen, i wanted to talk to you bc i want you to feel comfortable, and i don’t know a whole lot about transitioning, would it be cool if i asked you questions?’ chances are, he’ll be beside himself with happy feelings that you want to talk to him instead of assuming.

There is the chance he’ll feel nervous at first bc (like you said) some people are giving him a hard time, just try to reassure him that you don’t mean to pry or make him feel weird, you just want to know and you want him to know that not everyone at your school is a complete douchebag. You’re one of the non-douchebags and you’re legit interested in him as a person.

I know this isn’t at all the same thing, but when people are like ‘what is it like to be gay?’ or ‘have you always been gay?’ or whatever to me, I’m more than happy to talk about it. It’s the people who stare at me from far away and don’t say anything that make me feel weird. So, just do it. Talking is literally the best you can do. HEARTS AND I LOVE YOU BC YOU ARE SO SWEET I CAN’T HANDLE IT.

Kristin Says:

I am currently constructing you a trophy out of tinfoil that is shaped like a big heart and has a plaque at the bottom decorated in pine cones that reads, “You are the best.”

Dannielle said that was the only advice that I had to give to you, but I am feeling generous, so here is a little bit more.  Think about how you would feel if someone came up to you and said, “hey, I know some people are total assholes in this school, so you’ll probably think I am one too, but I honestly just wanted to say hi and see if you wanted to eat lunch together sometime.”

You don’t have to jump into the conversation by automatically asking which pronoun he would prefer, you know?  Just see if he wants to share your pringles and then let the conversation progress naturally.  If you get to a point in talking to him where you go to use a pronoun and hesitate, just remember that you asking him honestly is a wonderful thing, and he will appreciate it deeply.  Some people are boys who identify as boys but wear girls’ clothing, and some people are boys who identify as girls who wear girls’ clothing, and some people are genderqueer and wear whatever the hell clothes they want.  There is no way for you to understand without asking, and he will totally get that.

Thanks for being awesome.

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