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Sat Jun 2, 2018, 12:17 PM

Way before Wypipo, I remember when "Straight" meant, essentially, "Not Cool" [View all]

It had largely replaced the earlier term "Square". This would be back in the late 60's and early 70's, before Gay Liberation changed forever how the word "straight" is commonly defined. Back in the day "straights" seldom if ever "turned on", they seemingly never "tuned in", and they sure as hell didn't "drop out". Of course back then I self identified with the label "Freak". Folks like me (with the help of Jimi Hendrix) preempted that term, I suppose, to inoculate ourselves from any discomfort should it be hurled our way by "Straights". So imagine my surprise when, several years hence, "straight" became a definition for someone like me, straight white male that I am today.

Before that became the new norm for 'straight" the people I used to call "straight" rarely referred to themselves that way. I think they thought of themselves as simply being "people. If anything we were the ones who fit their definition of needing a definition, not them. To be perfectly honest, "straight" carried a faint whiff of derision back when folks like me called other people "straight". Usually nothing overly harsh, mostly it was meant as a simple distinction to distinguish "us" from "them". But implicitly there was at least a touch of bemused entertainment involved in contemplating those who were decidedly not cool.

Somewhere along the way I learned of another word that to some defined me, that being "Gentile". Who knew there was need for a word to describe me as not being Jewish? Not me anyway, before I finally learned it that is, and that took a little getting used to. It got a little confusing. Was it meant to simply delineate the faith/blood lines that I did not share, or was there also a whiff of at least unconscious condescension involved in my being in some way "lesser"?

Now when I first heard folks like H. Rap Brown refer to some folks with my complexion as "Honkeys" and
"Crackers" I admit I sensed a hint of potential menace in those words. But you know what I never did associate with those monikers? The terror of burning crosses or the real threat of being lynched, that's what. Those words were not imbued with a century of oppression, hatred, and physical violence being perpetrated on those who only asked that their basic human rights be respected. Tens of thousands of murders were never committed concurrent with a scream of "Honkey!".

So I look at the stir going on here over use of the term Wypipo and I have to chuckle to myself, though I mean no offense to those offended by that word while I do so. It ain't nothin', that couldn't be more obvious to me. It's pretty damn gentle actually. People in minorities always find shorthand terms to describe the majority that surrounds them, who have from time to time been known to oppress members of that minority.

Back when I was a "Freak" I was myself in a minority, and yes, from time to time "Straights" menaced us "dirty hippies". Nixon unleashed his hardhats, some restaurants made it clear that we weren't welcome etc. A had a casual friend/acquaintance at College who organized concerts for the Student Union. Big joyous guy, gentle as they came. Come summer he went off to visit family in Wyoming and he came back very changed. Seems some locals ambushed him, cut off all his hair, and I do not know what else. If I know him better probably I would have probed for details, but as it was I respected him seemingly not wanting to talk about it. He retreated after that, and fell out of my sight. So yeah, people like me took an interest in how "Straights" related to us, and yes we had a name for them.

Whypipo is benign, and it will remain benign unless and until it becomes highly charged with bitter hatred and coupled with repeated acts of brutal violence. In a best case scenario it can be as benign as a homosexual calling me "straight" or a Jew calling me "gentile". Personally, given that human nature always results in nicknames being associated with dominant groups, during times of social transition especially, I like the term. It has the potential to retain a somewhat playful tone to it, much like my use of "straight" to describe the majority culture back in the days of my youth. It's cool. Chill.

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Reply Way before Wypipo, I remember when "Straight" meant, essentially, "Not Cool" [View all]
Tom Rinaldo Jun 2018 OP
kimbutgar Jun 2018 #1
Afromania Jun 2018 #2
Tom Rinaldo Jun 2018 #3
oberliner Jun 2018 #5
Heidi Jun 2018 #11
NurseJackie Jun 2018 #16
Heidi Jun 2018 #22
Adrahil Jun 2018 #12
EffieBlack Jun 2018 #21
Tom Rinaldo Jun 2018 #6
Afromania Jun 2018 #15
Tom Rinaldo Jun 2018 #18
EffieBlack Jun 2018 #20
yonder Jun 2018 #4
InAbLuEsTaTe Jun 2018 #7
Tom Rinaldo Jun 2018 #8
ProudLib72 Jun 2018 #9
Tom Rinaldo Jun 2018 #10
philly_bob Jun 2018 #13
mythology Jun 2018 #14
Tom Rinaldo Jun 2018 #17
EffieBlack Jun 2018 #19