Subscribers to this site who are golfers know what happened, but for non-golfers: on January 9th, PGA player Justin (JT) Thomas, a popular player with a reputation of sportsmanship and class, called himself a Fa**ot after he missed a putt. A microphone picked up the anti-gay slur, so it was heard on air. A week later, Ralph Lauren discontinued its sponsorship of him.
You can make your own assessment of his apology but for me, it seems heartfelt and genuine. And I applaud JT for apologizing right after the incident, in person, on the air. A lesser person might have waited, conferred with a professional PR person, and crafted a perfectly worded, albeit empty, apology. JT stepped up.
But…this word is just so fraught with hate and pain. We all have different experiences that affect the way we hear things. When I was in my early twenties, I spent a half hour huddled in a gay bar’s bathroom, with 10 other women, pushing as hard as we could on the door to keep it shut from the pack of angry men who had broken into the bar. Through the door, we heard the pack screaming anti-gay slurs, breaking glass, and banging loudly as they damaged the place. We didn’t leave that bathroom until the police came – it was the scariest half hour of my life. So, I hear the word fa**ot with all the threats it directly, and indirectly, contains.
But… did JT mean to say something so harrowing and threatening just because he missed a putt? I don’t think so. He was just mad at himself and, in anger, wanted to insult himself.
And there’s the crux of the matter. Yes, there are different levels of hate and insult in this word, but the word itself is nothing but hateful and insulting.
So, I have a request: If you currently use this term to insult yourself, would you consider coming up with something else? Say you stink, say you’re a horrible putter, or just a crappy golfer. But whatever it is, I’d appreciate it if you could find a way to insult yourself without insulting me. I didn’t miss the putt.