do you think of when you hear that word? Lifestyles?
Does it conjur up images of that homage-to-80’s-overindulgence with Robin Leach screaming at you from the tele from the veranda of some celebrity in an exotic location?
The Dictionary defines the word as: A way of life or style of living that reflects the attitudes and values of a person or group.
Somewhat vague, this definition can be applied to a number of ways of life. People who boat have a lifestyle. Joggers are a lifestyle. Homelessness is a lifestyle. Spousal Abusers are a lifestyle. The list goes on, but you get the idea.
When did “Gay” become a “Lifestyle”? At precisely the moment that some refused to confer any semblance of humanity on people they do not agree with nor condone.
The lack of clarity of meaning when using this word to describe others is yet another tactic in an ongoing effort of some to prevent the recognition of what is a very human trait.
Don’t think so? Let’s examine the criteria for the term. What constitutes the “Gay Lifestyle”? If people go to Gay bars or where Gay people congregate does that constitute it? By that virtue then can it be surmised that a person who frequents establishments where African Americans are present be determined to be living the “Black Lifestyle”? Or, if a person of Jewish faith sleeps or engages in relations of someone of the Catholic Religion, are they said to be living the “Catholic Lifestyle”?
This notion of “Lifestyle” perpetuates the idea that being Gay or more to the point, acting Gay is a choice someone makes as casually as “I think I’ll work out today at the gym”. It reduces the significance of a class of people and lumps them with other Lifestylers. The vernacular and verbage we use when addressing others is very telling in the way we hold our views. Until such time it becomes so commonly accepted that we don’t even think about why we use a particular phrase or terminology. The next time someone refers to someone as a “Lifestyle” it might be good to challenge them to define it for you. I asked someone the other day and they were at a loss to explain why they ascribe that term on others. They may continue to do so – they may not. But maybe they’ll think next time they use vague, blanket, dehumanizing terms to describe others.