Cover image for That's Mr. Faggot to you : further details from my queer life
That's Mr. Faggot to you : further details from my queer life
Ford, Michael Thomas.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Los Angeles, Calif. : Alyson Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
x, 234 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN6231.H57 F68 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In this hilarious follow-up to 'Alec Baldwin Doesn't Love Me', Michael Ford takes the reader further inside his queer life from the social faux pas of sending a man flowers, to owning a CD possessed by the religious right, to the perils of using lavender-scented soap as a lubricant. A wild and wide-ranging collection of essays that are often poignant and always funny - a true look at living a queer life.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Cranky, bemused and extremely funny, Ford (Alec Baldwin Doesn't Love Me) is brilliant even on potentially mundane topics like high school reunions ("Michael Thomas Ford is very proud to announce that he is still queer... [and] happier, more successful, and a great deal more attractive" than his former schoolmates) and the giving of advice to his 12-year-old nephew about girlfriends (it wasn't so bad, once he mentally substituted Roberto and Jesse for Amber and Megan in the junior-high love triangle). Ford is peeved at a number of people, including Baptists boycotting Ellen, a certain senator from North Carolina and former ACT-UP leaders who now want gay men and women to be "just like everybody else." Ford admits, "I had a vague notion that to be just like everybody else was to no longer exist. But secretly I was glad I could stop wearing my earring." He has love in his heart, too, for Wynonna Judd, for instanceÄ"Yes, it's true. I want to have big jouncing breasts and masses of thick red hair. I want full, pouty lips that curl up in an Elvis sneer. I want to caress my guitar while thousands of lesbians squeal in delight and wet their cheap vinyl seats as they watch me totter across the stage in tight cowboy boots. I can't help it." He also champions "Dawgs" ("the blue-collar citizens of the canine world") against joggers, picnickers and other obstacles. "I'll tell you what," he says to an overprotective parent. "If he bites her, you can have him shot. And if your little girl bites him, I'll have her shot." Not for the faint-hearted, or fans of Jesse Helms, this collection achieves the feel of a down-and-dirty dish session with a very amusing friend. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One Straight Talk     It's Friday night, and I am standing in the local video store, staring at the wall of rentals. My eyes are glazed over from having looked at the same 20 boxes for 15 minutes, and I'm in a bit of a panic because more alert browsers are quickly snatching up anything worth watching. I'm trying to decide between something that looks interesting but is potentially really awful (otherwise known as Critically Praised Foreign Film with Attractive Cover Art But No Discernible Plot) or something that features Bruce Willis's chest and is therefore a sure thing.     As I waffle between the two, a pair of girls scampers down the aisle, giggling wildly. About eight or nine, they are both wearing Pete's Pizza Parlor junior league soccer jerseys sporting fresh grass stains. Apparently having just won their early evening game, they are clutching wrinkled dollar bills in their hands and have clearly been put in charge of choosing the film for the evening's celebration.     The first girl, a tomboy type whose aggressive demeanor and missing front teeth suggest that she is probably the captain of the Pete's Pizza team, goes immediately for the latest Disney movie featuring talking animals, tap-dancing flatware, and songs that will make her parents' ears ring permanently after hearing them sung 15 billion times over the next two days. But the second, a pigtailed redhead with strawberry spots all over her happy face, is more careful. She scans each of the rows for the perfect selection, thoughtfully reading the descriptions on the back of each box.     Finally she picks one. "I want to see this," she says, presenting her friend with her choice. She's holding The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love . Intrigued by her selection, I wait to see what happens next.     "Eww," says her friend after glancing at the cover. "I don't want to see that. It's about lezzies. Lezzies are disgusting. You aren't a lesbo, are you?" Her face is wrinkled in disgust, and she shoves the box back into her friend's hand as if it were something covered in filth, staring at her with a look that implies that answering her question in the affirmative will bring dire consequences.     The pigtailed girl blushes but doesn't say anything. She quickly puts her movie back and picks up the Disney. Her friend grins, seemingly satisfied, but the empty spaces in her mouth form darkened windows in her smile. The redheaded girl glances at the movie in her hands and says, "I guess this is OK." As they walk to the counter to pay, she looks back wistfully at her first choice, still sitting on the shelf.     This scene stays with me throughout the week, popping into my head during quiet moments. And each time it does, I get angry as I think about the way the red-haired girl was forced to give in to her friend. Certainly at eight or nine the little girl with the missing teeth cannot be accused of out-and-out conscious homophobia, but I find myself blaming her somehow for her innate sense of heterosexuality as preferred status.     Perhaps because of this, I start to become more and more aware of the intrusion of straight society into my world. I start keeping lists and quickly come up with the following examples:     I am riding the bus home one night. In front of me are two teenage boys. A few seats ahead of them are a couple of obviously gay men, having an animated conversation.     "I hate queers," says one of the boys out of the blue. "They make me sick."     "Yeah," says his friend angrily. "I'd like to kill all of them."     The gay men, oblivious to the hatred seething just a few rows behind them, stand up and ring for the next stop. The two boys watch them get off.     "Faggots," says the first one, watching the men through the window. "I bet they're going to that faggot restaurant over there."     The restaurant in question is a macrobiotic place that, while certainly familiar to my town's gay population, is hardly a queer hangout. In fact, its core clientele is largely heterosexual couples with digestive problems and pale girls who write bad poetry in battered notebooks.     "Yeah," says his friend as the bus pulls away. "All them homos eat that health food shit."     I watch the backs of their heads as the bus pulls up to my stop, wondering what they would do if I smacked them really hard. As I stand to get off the bus, I lean down and say, "You know, some of us homos eat the same crap you two do," and watch their jaws drop.     I go to visit my sister, who has recently taken a job in the pet store of her small country town, where she sells birds. Her coworker and new best friend is a woman named Mandy, who is five feet tall and weighs more than 300 pounds. We talk for a while about the birds, which chatter ceaselessly and which both my sister and Mandy adore. I find them annoying and excuse myself. After I leave, Mandy tells my sister that she thinks I'm cute.     "Forget it," my sister tells her. "He won't go out with you."     "Because I'm fat?" says Mandy, who is apparently used to being given that reason.     "Because he likes guys," my sister says.     Mandy sighs. "What a waste," she says. "Why are all the good ones gay?"     I know the details of this conversation because my sister tells them to me. Repeatedly. For the next month, every time she calls she has to remind me that Mandy thinks it's such a waste that I'm gay.     "Isn't that the funniest thing you've ever heard?" she says each time.     It's another morning at the park, where I take my dog for his daily swim. One of the regulars, Dave, is talking to another, Bill, about an upcoming business trip Bill is making to San Francisco.     "Man, you have to go this place," Dave tells Bill. "It's called Castro. Weird as all hell, but you can get really great haircuts there. Just watch out for all the freaks walking around."     Bill takes out a piece of paper and writes this down. "Castro," he repeats as he writes. "As in Fidel Castro?"     "I don't know," Dave answers. "There are a lot of guys in leather there. I don't know why. But you should go. It's really freaky."     "They're wearing leather because they're gay," I say, and both Dave and Bill stare at me blankly.     " The Castro," I tell them. "It's the gayest part of San Francisco."     "Oh," says Dave finally. "I guess that explains why it's so weird. Anyway, you can get great haircuts there."     I am talking to one of my editors on the phone. She is working on the manuscript of my new book for young adults, a collection of interviews with lesbian and gay people.     "It's great," she says, but underneath her words is that familiar tone that means something else is coming.     "But?" I say, prompting her.     "Well, we'd like to take out the interview with the transvestite."     "He's a transsexual," I say. "Not a transvestite."     "Oh," she says. "Is there a difference? Anyway, we think it's far too controversial. And it's not like there are a lot of them out there. The book will get more attention if we stick to plain old gay people."     I weigh the advantages and disadvantages of arguing with her about exactly what plain old gay people are. I think about my transsexual friends and how they looked for images of themselves as young people, finding nothing. The entire point of this book is to give young people examples of what might be possible in their lives. I start to say something.     "The publisher is very insistent on not asking for trouble," she says before I can reason with her. "Remember, your last book was banned in three cities." This is true. I found out about it when it was announced on CNN one evening and my mother called to tell me.     "Fine," I say, having heard this tone from her before and knowing that the decision has already been made. "Whatever."     Later that same day, my agent calls. There's bad news about a book proposal that she's been shopping around, a collection of essays by well-known gay writers talking about issues of aging in the queer community.     "Everyone thinks it's a depressing topic," she says. "They want gay romances. You know, like Gordon Merrick. Can you write something like that?"     Gordon Merrick. His were the first books I ever read about gay people, when I was 12. I bought them at the local Waldenbooks while my father waited behind me, oblivious, and the salespeople showed one another my purchases and snickered. At home I locked myself in my bedroom and devoured them. I was thrilled by the descriptions of sex, but wondered if I really had to take so many drugs and be as unhappy as the men in Merrick's world.     "No," I tell my agent. "I don't really think I can write something like that."     I keep recording these examples throughout the summer, and the quickness with which they accumulate is both disconcerting and annoying. I start to realize that to most people, I am invisible as a gay man. There are no identifying signs that mark me as being anything other than one of the thousands of other Irish men who walk down Boston's streets in shorts and baseball caps. Even the tattoo of interlocking Mars symbols on my right shoulder is invisible unless I'm changing at the gym.     On the one hand, this anonymity means that I live relatively free of the problems faced by some queer people who are more visibly out. Apart from the neighbor boys who once stole my rainbow flag from my porch, I do not get harassed because of who I am. I haven't been called a faggot since high school, and thankfully I have never felt threatened walking down the street.     But being invisible also has its disadvantages, and by the time fall rolls around, I've had enough. None of the encounters I've had with straight people have been enough in and of themselves to defeat me, but their accumulated weight has made me, well, just a little bit edgy about heterosexuals. I'm tired of being around them. I need to be with my own kind for a while.     I decide to go on a weekend camping retreat with a pagan group I belong to. While the group is not precisely gay, there are a lot of us in attendance, and even the ones who aren't might as well be, given the atmosphere of tolerance that pervades such events. It's relaxing. My guard is down. I don't feel like smacking anyone for four whole days. At least not out of anger.     There is a man at the gathering whom I find very attractive, but I just don't have the energy to pursue him. My recent brushes with heterosexuality have made me wary of sex in general. I decide I will use the weekend to regroup and recover, to ready myself for a return to the real world. Besides, I manage to find out, he lives halfway across the country. While a weekend of great sex would be welcome, I dismiss it as impractical.     On Monday afternoon, while packing the car to leave, I discover that this man and I have a mutual friend. We end up talking.     "It's too bad we didn't meet earlier," he says. "I noticed you the first night, but I didn't want to say anything."     "Why not?" I ask. Even though I thought the same thing about him, I am, of course, anxious that something about me prevented him from being as forward as he would have liked.     "Well," he says. "I thought you were straight."     As Mandy would say, what a waste. Copyright © 1999 MICHAEL THOMAS FORD. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Author's Notep. ix
Part 1 Just Another Day
Straight Talkp. 3
Guy Problemsp. 10
Stand by Your Manp. 16
The Perils of P.E.p. 24
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?p. 32
What a Tangled Webp. 39
I Wish Me a Merry Christmasp. 43
Part 2 Us and Them
My Contract on America: A Fantasyp. 53
Holy Ghost in the Machinep. 60
Us and Themp. 68
That's Mr. Faggot to Youp. 74
A Better Mousetrapp. 79
Do You Hear What I Hear?p. 85
No More Mr. Nice Guyp. 92
Part 3 It's All About Me
Fitting Inp. 103
Why Not Me?p. 110
Over the Hillp. 117
A Taxing Timep. 124
Game, Set, Contractp. 128
My Life in Reviewsp. 135
Part 4 God Is Dog Spelled Backward
Man's Best Friendp. 143
Oh, My Godp. 148
Naughty or Nicep. 155
An Open Memo to Mattelp. 159
Gone to the Dogsp. 167
Could You Hurry Up? I'm Starting to Crampp. 174
No Way Outp. 186
Part 5 Our Queer Lives
Generation Gapp. 195
Send in the Clonesp. 201
The Waiting Gamep. 208
A Real Dollp. 215
In and Out Ragep. 221
Once Upon a Timep. 229