Gay for Glee But Not Their Gay Joke

carl joseph walker hooverI admit it, I crossed over; I like Glee. But I’m not a super die hard fan where I watch every episode or even know the kids names–baby steps, baby steps. But last night as I watched the episode, one of the cheerleaders–in a diner scene–turns to the other and says, “Do you know that a dolphin is just a gay shark?” Personally, I didn’t find any humor in this joke and I thought it was lame. Then I saw tweets flying around quoting this line on twitter with the following hash tags #glee #gay #true. Now, I love me a good gay joke, in fact, I’ll be the first to crack one in a crowd–wait, was that just a fart joke? Anyway, this Gay Glee joke bothered me and I wasn’t sure why. Was it because it was geared at a young audience and kids can be some of the cruelest people on the planet and will take a joke like that as “permission” to make fun of gays? A mature person can take the joke–any joke–take the humor from it–laugh, then go on with their day. A certain kind of kid though, will take a joke like that, and make it their mission (in order to gain acceptance) to use it against another kid. And just how do I know? Child, I was the object of people’s jokes, pranks, and cruelty growing up in Texas and it just made me scratch my head at how this simple Glee Gay joke could bring harm onto kids that are going through a hard time in school seeking acceptance.

But I thought, Nando, you’re taking it too far–and the Gays already have Rosie O’Donnell for that, so I went to bed and dreamed of shiny hair and white teeth–what? Don’t judge. But this morning when I woke up and checked my e-mail, I found the story of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover who brought his life to an end last year after enduring relentless harassment and cruel bullying at school–he was 11-years-old. When I say, I understand what he went through, I really can. From daily chants of “faggot” to hourly taunts of being called homo, fag, FagNando–I know it all too well. It started in elementary school and it followed me for the rest of my school life. I’d wake up in the mornings with tears streaming down my chubby cheeks, because I knew what the day had in store for me. I’d either get hit, knocked around, or just teased–at every corner. It was a miserable time for me and I only wish Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover would have hung in there a bit longer to realize that it gets better. This is the first time ever, that I’ve written about this personal issue because it’s a topic that can be embarrassing but I’ve learned that accepting myself in life has been a beautiful journey but its been a tough road.

Am I asking for everyone to stop watching Glee? Nope. But just that we think about how our kids will take these jokes and proccess them. I think we all know a Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover in our lives and there’s no need for another one to take their precious little lives over school bullying or even cyber bullying. I hope you take an extra two minutes and sign the petition that little Carl’s mom sent out this morning to help STOP BULLYING in our schools. Click here to sign a petition to support safe schools legislation.

And Carl, I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you when you needed someone to tell you that things would get better for you, sweetie. I can only hope that others will see how precious you were to us, even though I never knew you–and they help stop this from ever happening again. Your life was not in vein, little one.

Click here to watch Nando’s video on Gay Teen Suicide.

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41 Comments

  • Growing up with buck teeth, a thick accent, a stutter, and just plain being ugly my classmates were merciless in their teasing. You’re right that children can often be the cruelest. To this day, I still haven’t forgiven many of them for the way they treated me when I was 10 years old. I didn’t think of the dolphin joke in that light last night, but you’re right. I signed the petition, and thanks for sharing a bit of your own story.

    • And I never would have imagined–look at you now–a beautiful swan. I wish little Carl would have hung in there to have experience the other side of things, but thank you for commenting and signing the petition, his life meant something. ;0)

  • Love it. Just reposted on my Facebook page. Keep making them think, Nando. xox

  • Bravo, Nando – perfectly put as always!

    • Thank you Ernestine, I have learned a great deal to stand up for what I believe in from you–and for that, I thank you immensely, my friend.

  • You have pushed me to tears. I too remember the torture of growing up gay and different, not understanding why I was different while facing the abuse from those that knew I was.

    As an adult, I saw the joke for what it was, stupid and moronic which is really what made it funny. BUT putting on my self-conscience elementary school persona as you did, I can see how that joke could be very hurtful and a snide comment to those of us that were struggling with our identity, trying to fit into a mold that doesn’t fit, and at the same time facing torment and abuse from fellow classmates.

    Good post and I feel you Nando, I wish we knew each other then, as most gay kids we all just wanted one friend that could understand us. It’s important to reach out to kids and make sure they know they are not alone. The internet can really help in that regard. Preach it brother – keep speaking out.

    • Sweet Mike, we know each other now and we can unite our GAYNESS for the greater good–what color of cape do YOU want? I’m glad you understood where I was coming from–I didn’t want to think I was being one of “those” gays that takes everything too far–but this joke just didn’t rock it with me. Love ya, buddy! And as always, that YOU for opening up. You inspire me.

  • Nando – again, you took a topic and made me rethink about it. Did I find the “joke” funny? No, not really. Did I see all the Tweet and Facebook messages flare up once it was said? Absolutely. I thought it was a little out of character for the show, but, at the time, didn’t think about the full implications of it and what it may be teaching children and teenagers. Thanks for writing this post.

    • Really, you saw the tweets on that as well? I hope I didn’t sound like a cynical gay person, but I just didn’t dig it. I’m so glad you “get it” and where I’m coming from–I hope you signed little Carl’s petition.

  • Kudos Nando! This is a terribly sad situation that happened and I am glad you wrote this post. I don’t watch Glee but I heard about it and yea and the joke wasn’t funny.

    • Michelle, thanks for reading and leaving a comment. It means a ton to me and to little Carl’s mom as well. ;0)

  • This is very sad.

    What scares me, is that some of these bullies don’t outgrow it. There are many adults out there still being bullied.

    If you ever see any kind of bulling put a stop to it, especially if you are being bullied. Obviously, easier said than done.

    Just remember you are a special and unique person and NO-ONE has the right to feel anything less than magnificient.

    Be strong. Be happy!
    al_ice
    Mwah!

    • My dear sweet Alice, thank you for adding your sunshine to my blog! You have a beautiful way about you.

      Many don’t know, but you’ve SAVED the day with other gay babies–that were in Carl’s spot and we love you for that.

      Thank you for being the BEST Alice ever….and for loving all our gay babies out there.

      • Thank you, Nando.

        And you! Birds of a feather, my darling friend!!!

        As for saving and loving gay babies, I will be honest and say that I don’t see them as “gay”, I see them as people. My heart seeks a connection with another’s (and I don’t mean romantically) and my soul looks like at other souls. Race, religion, sexual preference, etc is all immaterial.

        MWAH!
        #:-)

  • Nando — I think you make a valid point about the issue of the gay joke. While people have become increasingly desensitized to making them, the reality is that it does have a long-lasting impact, after the laughs have subsided.

    The first step is for each of us to acknowledge the impact something like this can have then train ourselves to be more sensitive. It’s hard to reserve desensitizing but when we think of the children that can learn to be more understanding towards others like Carl, then it’s worth it.
    .-= AnalyticalDiva´s last blog ..Post Hook-Up Stress Disorder (Or PHSD) =-.

    • what an amazing comment–u touched my heart & thanks 4 personalizing it for little Carl. thank you.

  • This is a great article. Once again your experiences have touched and are making a diffrence. I am sure going to pass this one on….

  • I think if we can see some progress in this it’s is this: I couldn’t even figure out why that joke was supposed to be funny. Why is a dolphin a gay shark? I don’t get it. Really, I don’t. It’s not a matter of being offended. It’s just not even funny. And that’s my point. We make progress as a society when jokes that marginalize a group of people (women, Jews, gays, people of color etc) are just no longer funny because we’ve outgrown and left behind the stereotypes that used to make them seem funny.

    Invisible groups of people (gays and Jews primarily) will be the last groups of people to outgrow hatred and stereotypes because we can always choose the option of hiding over confronting and proving people wrong. You can’t pretend you are not black if you are black (unless you are severely light skinned), but gays can be in the closet and so can Jews (I was until recently). You can’t just look at us and know what we are.

    It takes courage to come out and be ourselves when we know that there are people who will just hate us because they can, but I think it’s worth it in the long run.
    .-= Alisa Bowman´s last blog ..Should you role play? =-.

    • Very Thought provoking comment sister, and I thank you for it–although some of us can’t hide our “gay” even with all the Wendy Williams make-up and Tom Cruise Haircuts around!

      But I understood the jist of what you were saying–and I think either way, it’s brave to “come out” and I agree, it’s worth it in the long run.

      Thanks for your insightful viewpoint.

  • I grew up a 350lbs homosexual Jehovah’s Witness and took A LOT of abuse and went through A LOT of therapy to get over said abuse. This stupid little joke about dolphins being gay sharks is NOT OFFENSIVE… its just stupid. There are better things to get your panties all ruffled up… don’t waste your time on some crappy show like Glee. Good lord.

  • Stories like these remind me of my youth. I hate it when people use the word gay as a double meaning for stupid or weak. It reminds me that I need to speak out not only for my mexican culture but also for my GLBT Community.

    • I still have people in my life that use the word “gay” like that–and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I don’t even notice it, until the say it and THEY notice it and then apologize–then it becomes weird. ugh.

      “The electric company wouldn’t take my check, they were so gay.”

      Really? Ok.

  • I want a t-shirt that says FagNando. I think it is your gay super hero name. I think it should have a vibrating lightning bolt through the a in Nando. Amaz.

  • Thank you for putting this out there in the world. I think the subtle homophobia is almost worse than the obvious, in-your-face kind. I work with LGBTQ youth that face all sorts of craziness in society and we need to keep holding adults responsible for intervening when hate/bullying/teasing happens. Rock on Nando!!

    • Oh – and by the way, I’m only watching the 1st season of Glee right now and have thought it’s so progressive and doing wonders for LGBTQ youth….during the 1st season anyway! And I definitely don’t get the gay shark joke anyway.

      • Glee is awesome. I think you’ll enjoy it–they even have a main gay character–he’s amazing.

        What kind of work do you do? Is there anything I can do to help?

        Please let me know! I’d love to participate in any way that I can!

  • Nando, wonderful post. My oldest son just turned 10 and sometimes gets teased at school…for being black, not black enough, nerdy, whatever. Thanks for bringing school bullying and hurtful jokes to everyone’s attention. I too will post this on Facebook and Twitter.
    .-= Kim´s last blog ..National Enquirer, Obama, Vera Baker and my broken heart =-.

    • Kim, thank you for sharing. When I lived in Iowa–I used to run a boys anger group–ages 5-8. These little ones would come in and cry because they were teased in school for being mixed (black & white, latin & black, white & latin).

      The pain was real and so were their tears. I couldn’t help but sit there and look at their inner AND outer beauty–those kids were MODEL material–and anyone outside of IOWA would snatch them up and put them on magazines and commercials–with their beautiful curly locks and big blue eyes and cinnamon skin. But in Iowa–because they weren’t the “norm” they were different and different was bad.

      So these kids would act out in school. It got to the point that when they acted out–the schools would call me because they’d throw fits and ask for me instead of their parents.

      Doing that group, I learned that kids can be cruel–but the counterpart to that is that kids are also very magical inside and have a resilience about them.

      Thanks for sharing this post and I hope things get better for your boy. he deserves a good experience.

  • While I’m not gay and never have been, I can completely identify with the bullying thing. And like Leica, I still to this day have trouble forgiving them or wanting anything to do with them.

    Like you I spent my mornings dreading. I loved school and learning, but I did my best to avoid the rest of the people in school. Beatings, tauntings, teasings.. never seemed to matter what I did or didn’t do.. it continued.

    Signed the petition, and hopefully we can get something done to prevent this in the future.
    .-= Maruska Morena´s last blog ..Dating A Parent =-.

    • I’m not sure about the psychology behind bullying, but those folks don’t make anything fun. I was watching Tyra on youtube yesterday and she talked about how bullying STILL affects her.

      It’s a powerful thing; I’m glad you signed the petition. Thanks.

  • Nando, you and your fans may hate me for this, but I don’t think the joke was off-color. As I read your post, I began thinking that something about that particular joke and maybe your mindset at the time triggered you personally. That’s ok. I have my own triggers that are benign to others. It was about a dolphin and not directed at a person, so I think it’s a stretch to connect it to Carl Joseph Walker Hoover, who I’ve written about myself.

    Just calling it as I personally see it, and I have a feeling some people are reading this subjectively and commenting in kind for fear of not being pro-Nando.

    I’m still pro-Nando, I just don’t feel the same way you did in this particular case.
    .-= ifelicious´s last blog ..Kristin Cavallari hints that The Hills might go on for a lucky season 7 =-.

    • it’s great that you are highly evolved and that joke didn’t phase you–but you’re also over the age of 9, I hope. Kids at that age find stuff like “farts” and “gay” hilarious and some turn those funny moments into intense teasing-opportunities. (Been there, experienced it, didn’t like it much)

      I’m glad you also wrote about Carl Hoover, I think that’s great, but I wonder what his mom would think about a comment like that being thrown at her son and seeing the hurt in his little eyes when Carl internalized it–then added it to the stack of hurt he already was carrying around?

      I’m so happy you never had to deal with any type of discrimination in your life–especially one that stems from your nature–something you have no control over. More power to you.

      For the rest of us–who were teased about our shoes, hair, even about the cartoons we watched–I’m sure the dolphin joke was a little hurtful if used the wrong way.

      Thanks for sharing and Power to iFelicious.

  • Think of this joke in the ‘half full’ way of mind – dolphins are more intelligent, social, and enjoy more sex than sharks :P

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