DEAR ABBY: When I go to parties or functions, I often hear subtle or direct gay-bashing. The source is never married people. Married people talk about their kids. No, it is usually single men, often ones who are ex-jocks.
I have also observed this behavior in different social settings and non-professional athletic competitions. The source is always single men.
I'm single and live with my girlfriend. After a divorce and two kids, I don't feel the need to justify that I'm a single man who likes women. (I didn't feel that way before I was married, either.)
I have never challenged these single men who put down gay people, so I don't know what's going on in their heads. I can only theorize that they "bash" gays in order to prove to the rest of us that they are heterosexual males.
Could you please explain to these people that others do not think they are gay just because they're single? Today, men and women stay single longer, and sometimes, by preference or fate –- never marry. Could you inform your readers what is going on out in the world -- at least the ones in this Midwestern city -- and suggest a retort? Perhaps when someone starts with a gay joke, the standard reply should be ...? -- SINGLE AND OFFENDED IN KANSAS CITY, MO.
DEAR OFFENDED: I agree with your theory that men who tell gay "jokes" are probably insecure on some level about their own masculinity. And the most deeply closeted or insecure can be the most vocal in an effort to hide their own leanings and fit in.
One way to discourage such comments when you hear them would be to reply, "I don't find that particularly funny. Why do you think it's funny?" Then let them try to explain. Or, you might say, "You might think that's funny -- but has it occurred to you that someone here might have a gay relative and be hurt by that kind of humor?" I'll bet the thought that they could be surrounded by people who think they are tasteless, insecure or not too bright has never occurred to them.