Tuesday, February 05, 2002

i'm in a place where people use "gay" as an insult. it jars me whenever i hear it, like a couple seconds ago from a guy at a computer across from me. i don't know him and he wasn't talking to me, so how do i respond? the first couple times i was too shocked to react, although of course that's stupid -- i guess i'm just used to swat, and not even swat as a whole; my particular self-editing circles. here the rules are different, or there are no rules, or no one's set them out yet. it's hard to know. people have different unifying characteristics than i'm used to. they go to college rather than to swarthmore. they've decided to study abroad. they're american. that's about it. my jews in europe class is populated both by people who when answering questions about traditions say, "we ..." and people who dangle crosses over their collars. the professor asks questions about impressions of religions and i shudder a little waiting for the first faux pas.

i sit next to katie in that class, who wears her cross open and honest. she's lutheran, engaged to a boy who wants to be a pastor just like her father is and her grandfather too. (naturally it's a little political, she says of her engagement. it helps to know people, like in any profession.) her mother was born jewish and converted. my professor asks, "who is a jew?" and after various vanilla answers writes "jewish mother" on the board. jews don't recognize conversion. i sneak a look at katie, even though it's not my responsibility to assure that no one in the class is offended, see her leaning back, arms and legs crossed. look back at the prof, wondering if i should speak.
someone else mentions choice and the prof nods vigorously. of course, of course, everything's different nowadays. she doesn't erase the words on the board but they fade -- or their power does and maybe although i could be imagining it, oversensitivity and whatnot, katie begins to relax.

to what degree am i responsible and til what point should i keep my mouth shut?
meanwhile another question begins to be answered on cathy's site. she knows what she's fighting against.

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