07/31/2014 11:45 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The 8 Things Gay Men Need to Say Less Often


1. "Dealbreaker": In today's gay world, "dealbreaker" is tossed around so much that it's surprising that anyone manages to find common ground -- and I think I just figured out why half the men I know are single. Musical preference is a potential dealbreaker; height is a potential dealbreaker; tattoo placement is a potential dealbreaker. It's as if men are actually looking for reasons not to get attached -- and I think I just figured out why there's such a disconnect in the gay world.

Seriously, dudes? It's bad enough that we impose impossible physical standards on others and ourselves thanks to Photoshop and 12-year-old underwear models, but do we really want mirror images of ourselves in relationships? There are real potential dealbreakers that need to be considered when starting a relationship (religion, parenthood, HIV status), but if you make "texting over talking" a dealbreaker, you might as well just stock up on your porn. I understand Chris Rockway has a wonderful fleshjack that makes for the perfect boyfriend. Then again, I'm sure you can find someone who's a better fit....

2. "She's had work": This happens all the time: I see a beautiful older woman and say to a gay friend, "She looks fantastic!" His response? "Well, she's had work," effectively shutting down the compliment and any deserved credit. And when an older woman does not look so hot? "She needs work!" And the third-most-popular option? "She looks horrible. Way too much work."

For women it's a lose-lose. (It happens with men too, but not nearly as often.) We should be allowed to say that a woman looks great without qualifying the statement with a technological component. Some women and men look horrifying after hitting the doctor's office, so give people their due when they deserve it. Jane Fonda, who seems to have discovered the Fountain of Youth at age 76, looks amazing. I don't care what she's done, how much she's done, and who did it to her. I can only hope that I'm the male version when I'm anywhere near that age.

3. "Discreet": What is this, 1958? This self-hating word is so offensive that it makes "closeted" sound positively healthy. Most of us have had a date ask us, "Mind if I'm discreet?" My answer? "Only when you fart!" "Discreet" is such a polite, sophisticated word that it's easy to overlook what it really means, namely that the user is cheating on a boyfriend (or girlfriend) or still in the closet or working for the RNC. Oh, yeah, it also makes you sound like a whore. Gay men need to stop hiding behind a word that serves one purpose: to absolve them of responsibility.

4. "Hater": Years ago I was making fun of Céline Dion (because why not?) and a friend said, "Don't be hatin' on Céline." I'd never heard the expression before, but it made sense. My catty comments were inappropriate in regard to a woman who's done nothing but entertain lots of people.

Since that time, unfortunately, "hater" has become the new "spiritual," which itself is the old "religious," one of those expressions that's almost always used to shut someone up by implying that they are not as loving as the one making the unspecified claim (as in, "I'm more spiritual/religious than you are, and, therefore, superior"). That's a Titanic-sized simplification of the art of argument. "Hate," and any variation on the word, is a huge accusation and needs to be used sparingly. The worst offenders tend to be people who can't win an argument with facts or intellect, so they go for the emotional buzzword.

I've often criticized Lady Gaga's work, and her gay fans are some of the most vitriolic in their name calling, all in the name of ridding the world of "haters." After I criticized Gaga's statements in an interview, a gay man on Facebook called me a "mother-fucking c***" for disliking someone who has always supported gay people. When I told him that, by his definition, he was the same, as I've always supported gay people, he called me a hater. End of argument.

Bristol Palin and her mom are masters of the "hater" think tank, for the simple reason that they can't win arguments on logic. When Bristol appeared on Dancing With the Stars and was (rightfully) criticized for her lack of dancing skills, she countered the claims by calling her detractors "haters." Simple as that. It's not unlike invoking God's name when you want to avoid argument, or telling people to "shut up and sing" when you don't care for their politics. Hate the hatred, not the "haters."

5. "Not into the scene": I've been hearing this expression since I was knee-high to a gym bunny, and I still have no idea what it actually means. Consensus would argue that the speaker is indicating that he does not hang out or participate in "traditional" gay venues or customs: Fire Island, Palm Springs, circuit parties, gay bars, drugs, gay neighborhoods, Pride, etc. Yep, you got it: Where does this "scene" end and being gay begin? If I talk to gay men at the gym, am I into "the scene"? Is a trip to Puerto Vallarta part of "the scene"? And how many gay bars do I have to have entered in my lifetime before I'm part of "the scene"? I understand the very ambiguous meaning behind this expression, but let's be honest: Almost every guy who uses it is trying to cover up the fact that he's never met a brunch he didn't bitch at.

6. "She's a bitch": Like its more offensive cousin, "c***," "bitch" is a word that gay men can use ad nauseam with their male friends and their close girlfriends, with no objection. But it's a problematic phrase otherwise, because it's the easiest way for a gay man to denigrate a woman without getting into trouble. There's no real male version of "bitch," which has allowed our society to find one more way to reduce the integrity of the female population. There's a reason that men can't call other men "cocksucker" without the media pouncing on the phrase. "Bitch" is used freely on TV and in general conversation by gay men, and rarely is their recourse. We hear about women who are bitches on a daily basis (any successful woman, any girl who isn't "nice"), reinforcing the fact that women have a different set of rules to live by then men, when really they should be treated the same as the rest of us bastards.

7. "Obama haters are all racists and bigots": When it comes to the president and his detractors, the race card has been played more than the new "Fancy" song. Racism and bigotry are rampant in this country, and many people dislike the president because they are racists or bigots or both. But as hard as it may be for many gay supporters of President Obama to believe, there are some people who do not like Obama without it having anything to do with his color or his stance on gay rights. My mom despises him, and she's about as racist and homophobic as Michele Bachmann is loving and open-minded. (She rarely says this out loud, however, for she is almost always called a racist.) To say that all Obama haters are racists and/or bigots (and I read this on a daily basis) fuels the fire of the conservatives who are neither (yes, they exist), demeans citizens who are neither but who dislike him, and distracts attention from the actual racists and homophobic men and women who are destroying the fabric of this wonderful country. Go after them rather than making blanket statements about anti-Obama fever.

8. "Community": News flash, men: We are no longer a "community" any more than left-handed men are. We are a minority, and we're more often than not using the appeal to "community" to bring others down a notch. We are amazingly competitive with other members of this so-called "community," we are unkind to those in this so-called "community" who threaten our status, and we like to invoke the word "community" when we want something for free, as in "Why are you asking for your money? It's about community."

When someone mentions "community" in regard to me, it's almost always a cheap-shot insult. If someone doesn't care for my writing, I'm shaming "the gay community." If I criticize a gay person, it's "harmful to the community." If I question the motives of a gay organization, I am denigrating "the community." If I don't like The Normal Heart, which I didn't, my words are "a bad reflection on the community." Somewhere I missed the memo that said we, as gay men, are no longer individuals who should express our specific beliefs but part of a larger community that thinks and acts as one -- kind of like that larger group of fanatics who do not think we deserve to exist, because they have one belief. Groupthink is dangerous, cheap, and insulting to those who express their individual beliefs.

Within our minority there are communities of men who fight for equality, who help other gay men, who support gay causes and who sacrifice their time and money and energy to make the world a better place for gay people. I salute them, and I applaud them. By reducing the word "community" to some generic term that applies to pretty much any element in the gay world, we're insulting their wonderful works. And that just makes me want to bitch.