The 'Faggot' Factor

The Chickens Came Home to Roost at Columbine High

Can one have a girlfriend and still be a "fag"? Absolutely, since it's men who brand each other with that epithet. Wielding the f-word is a way for some guys to dominate others by convincing them that their masculinity can be lost. Teenagers are especially susceptible to this Big Lie. Take a kid who's seething with insecurity, bait him on a regular basis, and you've given him a good reason to celebrate Hitler's birthday.

Harris and Klebold responded to their degradation in a typically compensatory way— they assembled their own cult of rogue masculinity. But the jocks who oppressed them didn't have to go in for Hitler or Marilyn Manson. For these top men, homophobia was a socially sanctioned way to rebel. It made them sexy, proved their power over boys who had to take the burn, and reclaimed the throne of a reviled masculinity. Athletic achievement was only the surface sign of their status; bigotry was what made these jocks local gods.

So far, no one has suggested that the administration at Columbine High is responsible for the homophobia that blew up in their faces. Better to blame the killers' parents, exempting the rest of the community. After all, boys will be boys— especially in Colorado. This is the state where voters passed a law in 1992 forbidding any local jurisdiction from enacting a gay rights bill. (The Supreme Court later threw out this ordinance on the grounds that it excluded homosexuals from the political process.) Colorado is also where Matthew Shepard was taken to die after he'd been strung up on a fence and beaten senseless in nearby Wyoming. In the town where he expired, a float in the homecoming parade featured an effigy of Shepard with the words I'm gayaffixed.

When John F. Kennedy was murdered in 1963, Malcolm X had a shocking reaction: "The chickens have come home to roost," he said. It's possible to see the massacre at Columbine High in the same unsparing terms. But it's much more satisfying to round up the usual suspects. After all, they're "faggots."

Research: Steph Watts

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
All
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
Loading...