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“Shut Your Faggot Mouth!”

28 Jul Posted by in • Margie Adam | Comments Off on “Shut Your Faggot Mouth!”
“Shut Your Faggot Mouth!”

Part 4 of a conversation between Margie Adam and Jewelle Gomez:

Margie Adam: I think of the part of the play (Waiting for Giovanni by Jewelle Gomez) where Richard Wright walks offstage hurling a vicious comment: “Shut your faggot mouth!”  In both performances I attended there was an audible gasp in the audience.

I think part of that was that many other people besides me had their own very personal responses to the line. I know I did.

I remember walking across San Francisco State campus with a girlfriend, holding her hand. A couple of guys drove by in a Jeep and yelled out:
“You fuckin’ dykes!” and I remember feeling those words like I had been shot with a gun. Although I responded out loud with some glib, empowered retort like, “You got THAT right, Asshole!” I felt an involuntary surge of sickness and rage from the cumulative impact of other homophobic slurs I had endured. Hearing that line in the play made me wonder if it was an obvious line that had to be written in the show or if it came from an experience you had…

Jewelle Gomez: Both. Clearly that had to be said out loud because we know it does get said – and we know it DID get said.

Margie Adam: To whom and by whom?

Jewelle Gomez: It gets said to people on the street, to kids in school, to kids by their family.

Margie Adam: And this was said one comrade to another

Jewelle Gomez: Yes, one comrade to another. And we know it was said in that period when Baldwin was writing. We know people were not open about it, and that they were threatened it was going to ruin their careers.

It literally had to be said out loud in the play. I also feel like if it’s not “Shut your faggot mouth,” someone is always telling you to shut your mouth. – as a woman, as a person of color. Somebody is always trying to tamp us down. To me it was necessary to have that release of the words that we know are behind it all. You can be polite about it, you talk about it appropriately or inappropriately – but ultimately we know what’s being said. It’s not a nice phrase.

And personally… I’ve only been called “Nigger!” once and that was in Boston. I was walking down the street and some guys drove by in a car. I tried to forgive them because it was St. Patrick’s Day and they were probably drunk, but that was pretty scary. I was thinking: “I can’t say anything because I’m walking alone on the street and they’re drunk. They could just stop their car and get out and I’m a woman alone on the street.” This was many years ago when I was in my 20s.

I have had people stop on the street when I was with another woman and want to curse me out or curse us out, and have said really mean and nasty things to us. I’ve had that happen more than once. I’ve hailed a cab in New York and when the cab pulled up and saw me and Diane, the cab pulled away.  We know all of these things are still going on – everywhere – and I think we have to say them out loud.

Editor’s note: I am thrilled to have feminist icons Margie Adam and Jewelle Gomez on Epochalips. These two have influenced our generation by paving the way as feminists and out lesbians in the early days to continuing to share their gifts with the world today. Click here for Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Margie Adam is currently fully engaged in her “third act.” Having completed a PhD Program in Psychology, she has entered private practice as an integrative counselor. She is also a singer-songwriter-pianist and one of the early organizers of Women’s Music, a Second Wave feminist cultural initiative fueled by lesbian passion. Her song, “We Shall Go Forth!” resides in the Smithsonian’s Political History Division. She is associate producer of two films, Radical Harmonies: A History of Women’s Music and No Secret Anymore! The Times of Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon. Margie’s counseling practice is based in the San Francisco-Bay Area, and extends world-wide with telephone technology. Her focus is on creating a safe, empowering, and joyful environment for women in transition to explore esp. sexuality, recovery, aging, and/or completion of projects. info@margieadam.com

Jewelle Gomez is the author of 7 books including the lesbian vampire classic novel, The Gilda Stories.   Follow her on Twitter: VampyreVamp.  Or her website: www.jewellegomez.com

©2012 Jewelle Gomez & Margie Adam. All rights reserved.

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