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You say “Ice Dancing,” I say “Gay.”

by David Badash on February 23, 2010

in Discrimination,Media,News

Chelsea Handler, host of the E! channel’s late night comedy talk show “Chelsea Lately,” today on Twitter wrote,

You say “Ice Dancing,” I say “Gay.”

I have a problem with this, and said so on Twitter. Some folks agreed, some didn’t. Those who didn’t included a gay journalist, which certainly surprised me.

My point is this: It doesn’t matter WHO makes a slight or slur, it matters that it was said, and WHO hears it.

Some said that they were “tired” of us eating our allies alive. I confess, I have no idea who Chelsea is, or what she says, I just know it was a slur by someone in the public eye, and that her two million plus Twitter followers saw her comment.

Everyone has a responsibility to be fair and honest. Those with a public platform have that responsibility to an exponential degree.

Coming to my defense and illustrating my point, a Twitter friend responded,

How abt “You may call them gardeners, I call them Latino.” or, “You may call them basketball players, I call them Black”.


Making fun of someone simply because of WHO they are is never OK.

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dru February 24, 2010 at 1:04 am

Give me a break! So it's OK to think it just don't say it?!!
What happened to freedom of speech?
So everytime we hear a comedian make fun of themselves in being Asian, Black, or Gay are we suppose to correct them?

steve February 24, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Therefore, according to your logic, Chelsea is gay, right? ('everytime we hear a comedian make fun of themselves' = Chelsea is gay)

Are you outing Chelsea, dru? Did you sleep with her personally? Do you know this for a fact?

Maybe you should think before you type, kthxbye!!!!

David Badash February 24, 2010 at 1:19 am

So, let me get this straight. If a friend makes fun of you it's OK, but if an enemy doesn't, it's not?

If Maggie Gallagher had said, You say “Ice Dancing,” I say “Gay," I'm pretty sure most in the LGBTQ community would have been offended, and I hope they would have said so.

Equality works both ways. You can't complain about what one person says when you don't like them, and ignore what someone else says when you do.

And I think I'm a good example. I had NO idea when Chelsea Lately/Handler was. All I knew was she wss someone in the public eye, and I made my feeling known on twitter. It was then that I learned who she was. So there's no association in my mind with her. I was offended purely because of the words. I didn't know she was "a friend."

Treating her differently would be hypocritical. I won't do that.

There's too much at stake. Many people, it seems, listen to her. Many of them will think it's OK to make fun of us. She's "a friend of the gays, she makes fun of them, it must be OK" will be the thoguht that goes thru their mind — probably without consideration.

Is that OK? How does that help us?

Fair is Fair.

Luminum February 24, 2010 at 10:13 pm

The thing is that it's NOT a double standard. The uses of these terms and this humor is distinct in what it comments on. Whereas a homophobe calling everything "gay" is based out of their belief that anything that doesn't adhere to their rigid perception of masculinity, people like Chelsea and others like her calling things "gay" is a commentary and parody of that socially constructed mindset. She isn't making fun of gay people. She's making fun of the kind of people that think that way, that "everything is gay."

It's the irony of the humor. It's why gay men use "fag" and "gay" as terms of endearment and jokes It's why racial and ethnic minorities have what always seems to outsiders as "racist" humor. We transform the hurtfulness of our struggle and all the trials therein into something that we can actually laugh at. Homophobia, sexism, and racism amongst other kinds of prejudice are certainly ridiculous and that kind of ludicrousness deserves to be parodied and laughed at.

If you can't tell the difference between someone who legitimately promotes homophobia and someone who mocks it, then you're in for a rough time navigating a civil rights movement. In fat, you're probably going to end up advocating for blanket "bans" like you're suggesting here, sans context or any kind of understanding. Maybe that's not "language Nazism," but it's certainly "language fascism."

Just as we have a duty to educate homophobes, we have a duty to educate ourselves. You don't know who Chelsea is, but you were completely comfortable firing off a statement against her comment. I'm not worried that this kind of irony will be lost on some homophobe, because I know that if I ever have to confront someone about it and they say that they thought it was okay because Chelsea said it on her show, I'll be able to explain why the uses are different. I'll be able to explain that when (largely) those in or affiliated with the LGBTQ community use queer pejorative slurs, they do it with irony, to mock the oppressive mentalities that persist in truly prejudice people. I'll be able to explain to this person that their use was used to promote that homophobic mentality and that's why it's wrong and most importantly, why it's different.

Maybe the social commentary behind Chelsea's statement was lost on you, but hopefully next time you'll be able to tell the difference and be better equipped to participate in the dialogue between the LGBTQ community and their detractors.

William February 24, 2010 at 8:37 pm

We love Chelsea and watch her nightly. However, I cringe everytime she says comments like this , which is usually once a night. "That's so gay" and variations of it seems be be her fallback. Frankly, I just don;t get it. She seems to be a friend of the community on most every level; however, she really needs to tone these quips down especially since they add nothing to her humor.

Len February 24, 2010 at 9:30 pm

She makes fun of everyone. Yes, she would probably say something along the lines of, "You say gardener, I say illegal immigrant." That's her shtick. She's an insult comic. She also happens to be an ally of the gay community and regularly makes it a point to call out homophobes on her show, give gay comics a forum to use their material, and in general not be an asshat about homosexuality.

All of the above is the reason that this doesn't offend me. We can't single out the gay community as being immune to targeting, in regards to comedy.

Don't get me started on the "Obama is the biggest homophobe in the country." Now, THAT offends me. But, mindblowingly stupid statements annoy me in general.

Aaron February 24, 2010 at 9:35 pm

David, if a friend makes fun of me, it often IS okay. And when strangers do so, I evaluate what I know of them, try to divine their intent, and proceed from there. Taking offense is as much of a choice as giving offense.

If we are not allowed to use humor to take away the power of hurtful words and ideas, we lose one of our greatest weapons. I have no problem with you saying, "I was offended by this." But the idea that certain words and phrases are "off-limits" only strengthens the allure of the taboo surrounding them. And jumping to conclusions about what people mean by what they say–without taking the time to see where they're coming from–can be hugely disrespectful in its own way.

micheal February 24, 2010 at 9:57 pm

so, let me get this straight. are you offended because she used the word gay or are you offended because she implied ice dancers were gay?

being a gay man i don't find the word "gay" offensive and i must assume that you don't, either, which would then seem to imply that you're offended that somebody associated ice dancers with the gay community. which would then seem to imply you consider yourself, and by default the gay community, somehow superior to ice dancers.

if i were an ice dancer i might be a little offended by you're being offended.

not knowing who miss chandler was you simply assumed she meant it as a derogatory statement because you also assumed she was straight and therefore could only use the word gay as some sort of slur.
if she had said "you say 'graceful, theatrical, olympic caliber athlete' i say 'gay' " would you have been as offended?

McCaverty February 24, 2010 at 10:21 pm

It's almost impossible to know the context (or if there even was one) of Chelsea's twitter "statement" – it is a tweet, for God's sake! Did she mean "gay" as in "stupid, pathetic, wrong, ridiculous" as the young folk are wont to use it, or was it more of an absurd word association with a connotation of "glittery, fancy, feminine, effeminate, etc.," or, least likely of all, was she saying that it conjures up images of same-sex coupling in spite of the fact that it is reality an opposite-sex pairs activity – and in this Olympics sometimes consisting of (ew!) opposite-sex siblings?

I wouldn't have been surprised to hear her tweet "You say 'Ice Dancing' – I say 'Incest on Skates'", but I'm not holding "gay" against her in this case. She's an ally; It's an offhand tweet, and if she was really in insult-comic mode there are much worse insults than "gay".

DUH February 25, 2010 at 2:21 am

Yes, Chelsea is generally pretty tolerant, and I am a fan, but as a friend, she should know that "that's so gay" IS insulting. Sarah Silverman, on the other hand, can get away with it, because the joke is that her character is so clueless, she has no idea she's being offensive. It's all about context. Are we being ridiculed, or are the homophobes being ridiculed?

micheal February 28, 2010 at 12:04 am

she didn't say "that's so gay" she just said "gay"

niggertronn March 8, 2010 at 8:17 pm


David Badash February 24, 2010 at 6:48 am

It is absolutely amazing to me that you do not get the correlation. Yes, there is a relationship between language and actions. When people hear celebrities and others in the media denigrate gays, that makes it OK for them to denigrate us too. And that leads to harassment, which leads to bullying which leads to physical assaults and lgbt people "attacked, beaten, bullied, and murdered in this country because they remain second class citizens."

And "language Nazi?"
Yeah, not cool either.

Adam February 25, 2010 at 7:03 am

So you think it would be fine if she had tweeted:

You say "black"; I say "nigger?"

Do you honestly believe she would still be on the air with a remark like that?

Her use of the word "gay" equated to "stupid" not "gender variance" and this use leads to prejudice and hate crimes – maybe you GrrrlRomeo like to see "gender variance" people beaten to death?

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