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BrigidGH
04-03-2012, 01:32 AM
I wasn't quite sure where to place this topic, but I guess this is the most suitable place...? Oh well.

So, here's the situation in the story: There are two girls who are best friends, and then a rumor spreads that one of the girls has romantic feelings for the other. This leads to other kids tormenting and harassing her until she feels she has to leave the school entirely.

Initially, I didn't give the story a specific setting, mostly because I didn't want to seem like I was attacking any specific town/place. But readers keep telling me that the homophobic thing seems to come out of nowhere. So, I want to choose somewhere to set my story, after all. But, coming from a very liberal area, I'm not really familiar with any towns where this might actually happen.

So, specifically it takes place in a small-ish town. And it also has to be somewhere where it snows. (Since there are several important parts involving snow, cold weather, etc.) I've been told there are parts of Michigan that might work, but I have no idea ... could anyone confirm this? Anyway, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! :)

PPartisan
04-03-2012, 01:38 AM
There was a lot of hoo-ha over the Anoka-Hennepin school district (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/08/anoka-hennepin-school-district-anti-gay-bullying-rolling-stone_n_1263277.html) recently...

Surely there are myriad places you could set this though?

Alessandra Kelley
04-03-2012, 01:50 AM
I spent my teenage years in a commuter's suburb that pretended to be a small town in south central Wisconsin, where Reagan was God and there were hardly any minorities (even Italian-Americans were looked at as somewhat outsider by the Scandinavio-Germanic dairy farmer's kids) and yes, there was a lot of snow.

The place wasn't 100% right wing. But it definitely skewed that way. And there was a vast amount of homophobia.

Michigan is a lot like this too, only in my experience there are more blue-collar workers and fewer white-collar commuters.

Indiana is so right-wing conservative homophobic it's scary. That at least has been my experience. YMMV, and maybe I was unlucky in where I was (Fort Wayne area).

Drachen Jager
04-03-2012, 02:35 AM
I would think nearly any small town in America would do it.

Medievalist
04-03-2012, 02:50 AM
You don't need a "homophobic" setting.

This could potentially happen anywhere at any school.

WriteKnight
04-03-2012, 02:58 AM
It's certainly true that these conditions or actions could occur in virtually any city - they do occur against a setting. This gives context to the tormentors actions.

Is the local culture going to be supportive of the kids who are doing the tormenting?

Is the local culture going to be supportive of the two students being bullied?

What is the context of their actions? I think that is what the OP is asking for. Setting the story in San Francisco - would have a different feeling than setting it in say, Kenosha Wisconsin.

BillPatt
04-03-2012, 05:51 AM
Be cautious with your words: Homophobic implies fear of homosexuals. One can be intolerant of different lifestyles without necessarily fearing them.

Examples: I might be completely tired of the annoyingly loud goth nightclub down the block without fearing the goth lifestyle. I might find public displays of affection tasteless and over the top without fearing them. Many roll their eyes at ostentatious religious displays (guilty!). That doesn't mean they fear religion.

Having said all that...many small towns take on the character of their majority ethnicity or class. Try having a down-home BBQ on Park Avenue sometime, and you'll find some major intolerance. Can you just imagine some NASCAR race taking place through some of the enlightened enclaves of Austin, TX? Intolerance cuts across all ethnicities, classes, and backgrounds.

This is NOT intended to start any kind of flame-war, or be a P&CE kind or post. BUT, there are intolerant conservatives. And there are intolerant liberals. And intolerant moderates. And quite the reverse, across the spectrum. Let's not do the 'homophobic = conservative' schtick, 'm-K?

Chasing the Horizon
04-03-2012, 06:08 AM
Northern Pennsylvania, small towns around the Scranton area. Very conservative and intolerant (no matter how people might like to twist words, those two go together, at least on the scale of communities). Lots of snow too.

Of course, I just cite that because I've spent time there and know what it's like. There are 10,000 other places you could probably choose too.

Nymtoc
04-03-2012, 06:09 AM
You don't need a "homophobic" setting.

This could potentially happen anywhere at any school.

Medievalist is right. But if you want the homophobia to extend beyond the school into the community at large, you might indeed want to pick a small town--I might suggest the Midwest, in a state like Iowa, Indiana, or the southern part of Ohio, which is very conservative. However, if you name a real town, you should find out a little more about it before painting it as bigoted.

Of course, since I live in the Big Apple, I'm no expert, either. :)

MacAllister
04-03-2012, 06:16 AM
Make it up. Remember "Footloose"? If you haven't seen it, (the original), then go rent it from Netflix or some such. It's an anytown, USA sort of situation.

Medievalist
04-03-2012, 06:17 AM
Be cautious with your words: Homophobic implies fear of homosexuals. One can be intolerant of different lifestyles without necessarily fearing them.

Examples: I might be completely tired of the annoyingly loud goth nightclub down the block without fearing the goth lifestyle. I might find public displays of affection tasteless and over the top without fearing them.

Let's also stop with the idiotic and exceedingly telling "lifestyle" references.

What, exactly is a homosexual "lifestyle," for instance?

A "goth lifestyle?"

What is a Jewish lifestyle?

Using lifestyle in this way is sloppy writing and suggests and equal paucity of thought. You are implying that entire groups of people united by a sexual orientation (or religion or race . . .) live the same way.

They don't.

It is not at all the same as, for instance, "agrarian lifestyle."

In the context of this thread, it's more than a little problematic.

Especially when you go right to the "I might find public displays of affection tasteless and over the top without fearing them."

It's particularly annoying in the context of this thread when when quite often two women can't walk home carrying groceries, not even touching, without someone yelling "Fucking dyke."
Especially when it seems to habitual (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=7129879&postcount=10).

BillPatt
04-03-2012, 07:08 AM
Especially when you go right to the "I might find public displays of affection tasteless and over the top without fearing them."

I find that people sucking face in public to be tasteless and over the top. The phrase "Get a room!" is rather well known. It does not refer to the gender(s) of the people involved.


It's particularly annoying in the context of this thread when when quite often two women can't walk home carrying groceries, not even touching, without someone yelling "Fucking dyke."

Especially when it seems to habitual (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=7129879&postcount=10).

Two points makes it habitual? Really? I confess, it's tough to overcome the habits of 30-some years. Perfection is not obtained in an instant. However, you ignore the 1/3 of the time (to judge not only be Google stats, but the sheer number of self-identified same-sex preferenced people who use the phrase. Just because you find it irritating does not mean that it is wrong. And your instant focussing on that phraseology instead of the main point of my post only points up the fact that non-conservatives (I am assuming you are one such) are as intolerant of certain things as everyone else.

As for the dyke comment, I never said such a thing, and juxtaposing it with a link back to one of my posts implies that I did. I believe you owe me an apology for that.

Again, my main point - the intolerance of the school kids should not be labelled 'homophobia' - for that implies fear, not intolerance.

MacAllister
04-03-2012, 07:18 AM
Bill, that's a losing battle - the etymology isn't the definition.

Homophobia is pretty much universally defined (https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ix=iea&ie=UTF-8&ion=1#hl=en&sugexp=frgbld&gs_nf=1&tok=-Exw86haxlFxnOSt82OoUQ&cp=12&gs_id=d&xhr=t&q=define+homophobia&pf=p&output=search&sclient=psy-ab&oq=define+homop&aq=&aqi=&aql=&gs_l=&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=227838ca82f33f26&biw=999&bih=523&ix=iea&ion=1) in English language dictionaries (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/homophobia)--even crap dictionaries like this online version--as encompassing a range of aversion to and discrimination against homosexuality.

That's how people have used the word for better than fifty years, that's how the word is defined, and to say that homophobia only means irrational fear of is as stubbornly ludicrous as insisting that the word "nice" can only mean stupid or foolish (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=nice).

So attempting to sidetrack this discussion with a strange and eccentric insistence that people can only use the word homophobia according to YOUR definition is obstructive and derailing. Stop it.

Medievalist
04-03-2012, 07:35 AM
I find that people sucking face in public to be tasteless and over the top. The phrase "Get a room!" is rather well known. It does not refer to the gender(s) of the people involved.

Let's look at the context of this thread.

Again.

Two men in almost anywhere in the U.S. are going to have problems if they hold hands.

Two women, same thing, though the problems are slightly different.


Two points makes it habitual? Really? I confess, it's tough to overcome the habits of 30-some years. Perfection is not obtained in an instant.

You're a writer. I expect better. I especially expect better when it's so very easy to avoid a known problematic and idiotic phrase like "lifestyle."


However, you ignore the 1/3 of the time (to judge not only be Google stats, but the sheer number of self-identified same-sex preferenced people who use the phrase. Just because you find it irritating does not mean that it is wrong.

1. You know the sexual orientation of miscellaneous Google in context searches from the Internet? Really?

2. It's not my personal irritation; it's a known bullshit phrase with a weight of implications:

Here: The GLAAD Media Reference Guide (http://www.glaad.org/reference/offensive):


Offensive: "gay lifestyle" or "homosexual lifestyle"
Preferred: "gay lives," "gay and lesbian lives"
There is no single lesbian, gay or bisexual lifestyle. Lesbians, gay men and bisexuals are diverse in the ways they lead their lives. The phrase "gay lifestyle" is used to denigrate lesbians and gay men, suggesting that their orientation is a choice and therefore can and should be "cured" (See AP, New York Times & Washington Post Style).

Those other style guides? They also pretty much say don't use "lifestyle" in the context of cultural/socio-identity to refer to groups of people.

Like you know, you did.


And your instant focussing on that phraseology instead of the main point of my post only points up the fact that non-conservatives (I am assuming you are one such) are as intolerant of certain things as everyone else.

I'm intolerant of clumsy bad writing in any context; I don't care about your political leanings; I do care about clumsy Freudian phrasing.


As for the dyke comment, I never said such a thing, and juxtaposing it with a link back to one of my posts implies that I did. I believe you owe me an apology for that.

I don't think anyone with any claim to functional literacy, including you, could possibly read my post that way.

And you'll play merry Hell getting an apology from me when you're the one who making the same Freudian slip.

Let me point out something to you that you seem to have missed: The section on "Inclusiveness" in the Newbies Guide (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1498432&postcount=2).

If you want to appear to be a heteronormative and imply that you think queer people have a separate "lifestyle," that's your choice.

But don't expect AW members to think it's just ducky.

QUOTE=BillPatt;7158643]Again, my main point - the intolerance of the school kids should not be labelled 'homophobia' - for that implies fear, not intolerance.[/QUOTE]

Look at that. The "intolerance" of the school kids.

That's another Freudian puddle.

BillPatt
04-03-2012, 07:41 AM
Bill, that's a losing battle - the etymology isn't the definition.
Really? Then why do dictionaries spend so much space on it?


Homophobia is pretty much universally defined (https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ix=iea&ie=UTF-8&ion=1#hl=en&sugexp=frgbld&gs_nf=1&tok=-Exw86haxlFxnOSt82OoUQ&cp=12&gs_id=d&xhr=t&q=define+homophobia&pf=p&output=search&sclient=psy-ab&oq=define+homop&aq=&aqi=&aql=&gs_l=&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=227838ca82f33f26&biw=999&bih=523&ix=iea&ion=1) in English language dictionaries (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/homophobia)--even crap dictionaries like this online version--as encompassing a range of aversion to and discrimination against homosexuality.
The Merrian Webster link you provided has my 'eccentric' definition as the first one. Front and center. The 'discrimination' one is the last definition.


So attempting to sidetrack this discussion with a strange and eccentric insistence that people can only use the word homophobia according to YOUR definition is obstructive and derailing. Stop it.
It also happens to be the primary one that Merriam Webster lists. And 'Stop it.' is fairly intolerant in and of itself. Note: I wasn't the one trying to shut down discussion here. But you are. Why?

I agree that this is a losing battle. I'll pack it in for the evening. Good night all.

MacAllister
04-03-2012, 07:51 AM
I pay the bills here. You're in my house.

"Stop it" isn't "intolerant" it was a strong recommendation for your future behavior, should you want to stay.

As to definitions? Let's not be any more disingenuous and offensive than you have to be, okay?

The dictionary definition I linked includes yours, as part of the first, front-and-center definition:

: irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals

Or do you actually not understand how to use a dictionary?

There's a difference, by the way, between "conservative" and "bigot" and you've well and truly mixed those up, as well -- and done so repeatedly.

And with that? We really are all finished here. Or at least you are.

blacbird
04-03-2012, 07:53 AM
specifically it takes place in a small-ish town. And it also has to be somewhere where it snows.

From comments in this thread, central New Jersey would seem to be a likely place.

caw

DrZoidberg
04-03-2012, 09:03 AM
You don't need a "homophobic" setting.

This could potentially happen anywhere at any school.

Just what I was going to say. Homophobia is rampant in even the most tolrrant places on the planet. Stockholm is regularly rated as the most gay friendly and tolerant city in the world to live in. Homophobia is still a constant problem. Especially for kids. If you set it in an especially homophobic place your story is likely to end in murder.

DrZoidberg
04-03-2012, 09:07 AM
Be cautious with your words: Homophobic implies fear of homosexuals. One can be intolerant of different lifestyles without necessarily fearing them.

Examples: I might be completely tired of the annoyingly loud goth nightclub down the block without fearing the goth lifestyle. I might find public displays of affection tasteless and over the top without fearing them. Many roll their eyes at ostentatious religious displays (guilty!). That doesn't mean they fear religion.

Having said all that...many small towns take on the character of their majority ethnicity or class. Try having a down-home BBQ on Park Avenue sometime, and you'll find some major intolerance. Can you just imagine some NASCAR race taking place through some of the enlightened enclaves of Austin, TX? Intolerance cuts across all ethnicities, classes, and backgrounds.

This is NOT intended to start any kind of flame-war, or be a P&CE kind or post. BUT, there are intolerant conservatives. And there are intolerant liberals. And intolerant moderates. And quite the reverse, across the spectrum. Let's not do the 'homophobic = conservative' schtick, 'm-K?

What could motivate intolerance of gays but just plain fear? I'm asking since my imagination is a bit limitted on this matter. I thought all gay hate was 100% itrational fear. Hearing anti-gay statements, especially from the religious, certainly gives that impression.

Buffysquirrel
04-03-2012, 12:55 PM
Maybe the problem isn't so much with the setting as with the fact that the homophobia appears to be out of context. Yes, you could choose a town with a reputation for that kind of intolerance, or you could build the intolerance into the story through the language your characters use and the way they react to and interact with others.

It always astonishes me for example how when I'm trawling around YouTube I run across any amount of gay hate in the comment threads. You could always translate that to your story by using fb pages belonging to students, by having a student's choice of music being used to justify labelling them as gay, by developing a school environment that is intolerant.

ETA: have a look at news stories about students who've been bullied for being gay and see what form the bullying took.

Cath
04-03-2012, 01:31 PM
Oh good grief.

You know, I think this can lead nowhere good. It seems intolerance can happen anywhere, in any setting, so let's just stop the discussion there.