Apr 28

The Words we Choose

There’s an old idiom,
”Sticks and Stones 
may break my bones,
but words can’t,
do a thing.”

It had fallen out of use,
Even before I first 
Climbed the steps to Kindergarten,
But the philosophy lives on.

“Look it’s just my opinion,”
—A friend defending saying,
that even though I identified,
as bi then, I was or would 
become a lesbian.
It was the first time I learned, 
I could be “too gay,”

“Look you know it was a joke,”
—One of my peers after saying,
That I should be careful,
Around my queer friends,
Because they’d “turn” me.

“Look it’s just the truth,”
—A friend of a friend,
After saying that,
She didn’t have any 
problems with me,
Just with those girls
who “pretended” to be bi,
“I know one who hasn’t, 
Even dated a woman.”

“Oh my god that’s a total cop out,”
—Me in referral to a bi lead on a show,
 “If she was really bi she would,
Have dated woman by now,
the writers just wanted a twist.”

What we say matters,
words may not break bones,
like sticks or stones,
but they are our building blocks,
they are what drives us forward.
They are what sparks,
the throwing of sticks and stones.

If we choose to build with hate,
Then that it precisely what we will create.


So I participated in the Day of Silence yesterday, and since it is a day about queer youth and their silencing I thought about one of the ways in which that happens which is the classic, “It was just a joke.” A lot of the time we don’t really think about how much effect our words can have, but even growing up in a very accepting environment I managed to develop some internal biphobia, due to supposedly harmless jokes and comments. The general culture was enough to make me—a very, very bi person—think some biphobic thoughts, which is horrifying to me. 

The Day of Silence is a day to think about the true impact of our words presence and absence. For the most part these remarks never got shot down by anyone around, which seemed to make them somehow valid. Jokes are often more than just jokes.