Before we begin this week’s article, a certain compelling bit of carefully collaborated, considerately chosen, clarification is called for. This column’s collective content (enough of the “c” word thing) is in no way, shape or form intended to poke fun of, degrade, discriminate against or belittle the homosexual community as a whole or deliberately directed at any individual member thereof.

What is gay? The word gay arrived in English during the 12th century. Its original and primary meaning was joyful, carefree, bright and showy. Over the centuries the term slowly evolved, taking on a more sexually based aspect. By the 20th century, the word began to be used to mean specifically homosexual. Though it truly gained its new and current meaning in the 60’s, it wasn’t until the early 80’s that it found mainstream usage; due to the advent of what was known as The Gay Plague.

In 1982 awareness of Gay-Related Immune Deficiency (GRID) swept the world. Fear of an STD that would slowly kill you gripped the nations. Its impact became even more dramatic when it was correctly renamed- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) with the realization that the “gay” attribution did not fully encompass the demographics of the disease. In layman’s terms, that means GRID was misleading in that you didn’t have to be gay to get it. However, this didn’t stop many from using the disease as a platform for anti-gay sentiments.

Messages from pulpits across America filled with half-assed and misquoted facts proclaimed it was a fitting punishment set down by god-a-mighty for a sinful lifestyle. These ignorant messages of hate were easily misconstrued by faithful followers. Many were led to believe that being gay was contagious and that a person could spontaneously become homosexual. Anyone could catch “the gay” and upon catching it be immediately “damned” with AIDS.

This unfounded fear based on ignorance redefined the rules of “being a real man” and led to harsh criticism of anyone who might not be. People were constantly on the look-out for signs of gay with a homophobic witch-trial mentality. What follows is a collaboration of assumed “gay” indicators, most of which are ridiculous, but some of which are still employed to this day.

Presented in the fashion of Jeff Foxworthy’s “You Might Be a Redneck If” comedy series to be better understood by the target audience.

If you have any sense of fashion …you might be gay. If you wear a scarf and gloves when it’s cold out…you might be gay (warm and comfortable somehow equals homosexual). If you carry an umbrella when it’s raining… you’re probably dry, but gay. If you like the movie Mary Poppins…you might be gay. If you know the lyrics to any of the songs from that film… you’re gay. If you like the Wizard of Oz… you’re probably gay. If you dress up like Dorothy and can sing Somewhere over the Rainbow in harmonic tune with Judy Garland… you’ve got some talent…but you’re most likely gay. If you break into song in public… you may be gay. If you sing along with a song on the radio because it makes you happy… you may be gay. If you maintain a neat clean appearance…you might be gay. If you use a tissue instead of just picking your nose, or know how to use fingernail clippers and a nail file… you may be gay. Any regular use of proper hygiene: so gay. If you are polite and courteous to those around you and have proper manners… you’re probably gay.

If you smile just because you’re happy there’s a chance you’ve contracted the gay. If you respect women… you might be gay. If you are faithful to your spouse and refuse sexual advances from an attractive woman… you’re gay. If you are a single male parent raising your daughter… you’ll turn gay before she turns 10. If you actually enjoy playing something other than sports with your children… you might be gay. If you think something, anything, is “cute”… BAM you’re gay! If you haven’t owned or plan to own a pick-up truck… you might be gay. If you prefer to take your vehicle to the garage instead of fixing it yourself, even if you have no idea WTF you’re doing… you might be gay. If you’re not into sports… you might be gay. Ironically if you enjoy watching grown men in tight little pants slap each other on the ass… you’re not gay? If you don’t like watching motor vehicles go around in circles for hours… you’re probably gay. If you don’t like rasslin’ then you are straight-up homosexual. Because nothing is manlier than watching greased-up, muscly men roll around on the floor together in shiny underwear. Hugging a male friend is only OK if somebody died, other than that… gay. If you have no desire to go hunting or just kill things for no reason… you might be gay. If there isn’t at least one piece of camouflaged clothing in your wardrobe… you might be gay (you must also own boots that match nothing). If you have any form of artistic talent, aside from tattooing… you might be gay.

We’ll stop there, because none of these things can truly be considered as factual ways to define a person’s sexuality. It’s obvious that since the early 80’s just about anything can categorize a person as homosexual, depending on who’s doing the categorization. Now this is in no way saying that being viewed as gay is a bad thing. But in a sense it is saying that, especially if the person in question is not. Because, regardless of a person’s actual or assumed sexuality, it is no one’s place to lay judgement upon them. We should all be free to be who and what we truly are, without fear of any type of labeled persecution.

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