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Terrence Phearse Headshot

We're Not Friends, So Don't Call Me 'Girl'!

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A random person comes up to you at an all-too-chic soirée and says "Girl, where did you get those shoes? They are fierce!" You look over your shoulder and around the corner to make sure that you, a male, are the person being addressed. Hmm... no one is standing behind you, so you are indeed the one being addressed as "girl." But here you are tailored in menswear, with a full face of facial hair. Obviously, this is the stranger's attempt at identifying you as a homosexual aloud.

I'm no stranger to that.

Some gays would happily respond with the tumultuous story of how those "fierce Prada shoes" were the last pair at the Barney's warehouse sale, and how the shoes were marked down to $399, and how they nearly died fighting to get them.

But words are things, and they are powerful. You have to be careful about the words you allow to be used around you, because they eventually get into you and become a part of you. Coming from a stranger, "girl" can send up a red flag as a pejorative for a gay man, so my mind quickly crafts a witty and somewhat rude response: "Oh, thank you, 'fierce' is how you pronounce my last name, and we're not friends, so don't call me 'girl.'"

The same rule applies for straight guys: "Don't 'bro' me if you don't know me!" Make sense?

"Hey, girl, hey!" "What's the tea, girl?" "Girl, hurry up and call me back!" These and similar expressions should be reserved for and used in good fun with close friends and family, as terms of endearment. "That's a title exclusively for friends and people who randomly do you a favor," a friend exclaimed. I wholly agree with him.

Am I saying that women should not refer to their close gay friends as "girl"? No! Call your best gay friend "girl" if he is comfortable with it; you have a bond. Just don't go blabbing out the word to everyone you see walking down 8th Avenue in Chelsea if you've had too much to drink. Capisce?