Tuesday, December 20, 2011

an open letter to a morning show dj

Hi xxx (when I sent the letter, I used her real name...)

I was listening to your morning show on my drive to work. I don't always tune in to your show, but the music and the lighthearted banter usually starts my day on a positive note.

Today was a little different. During your "relationship advice" segment, you were discussing how to keep romance alive in a long-term relationship, and you mentioned that date nights were a fun idea. And then you said "I know it sounds really gay and cheesy and all that...."

I am sure that your use of the word "gay" was an honest slip-up. I don't believe you intended to offend anyone in your audience. However, there are a lot of people listening to your show, including young children, who may unconsciously mimic what you say on-air. Because it sounds cool. Because if they hear it on the radio, it might be okay to say it to their friends.

When my eight-year old goes to school, she has to remind her friends that when they make fun of gay people, they are making fun of her mom. Her friends don't understand the true nature of what they're saying. When I went to school, kids used phrases like "that's so gay" all the time. They didn't understand the implication; that by using those phrases, they are implying that there's something wrong with being gay. Kids learn what is acceptable and what is not from the adults around them. Other adults also take their cues from conversations that they hear on-air, at the workplace at bus stations and in other places. When we pay attention to what we say, we can send a strong message: any words or phrases that transmit bias are not okay.

I want my child to feel safe at school. And while I don't believe that you intended to cause harm when you spoke this morning, I felt, for one tiny second, like there was something wrong with me. It brought me back to the days when I was a child in school, facing down the bullies who somehow, somewhere learned that it was okay to call other people names.

Ironically, one day last November, you were at my daughter's school, painting fingernails to celebrate "wear pink day," which is an event devoted to building tolerance among students. You might have even painted her nails. She's just a normal kid, who shouldn't have to worry about what people think of her mom.

I hope that in the future you choose your words a bit more carefully. Lives in this province have been lost because being different, being gay, is not okay.




Redbone210 said...

Good for you! People seem to learn the lesson when it's personalized. When there is a mom attached to the idea of what "gay" is. Maybe it will make someone stop and think before they use demeaning language.

Earth Muffin said...

I applaud you for speaking out and I love that you did it in such a thoughtful, non-attacking way. I hope this DJ takes your words to heart and thinks about ALL of her potential listeners in the future.