Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What's in a Letter?

Homosexual panic can strike at any age.

Take the case of an acquaintance of mine who has an Irish last name with a "Mc" in front.

Several years ago I co-authored a book with a friend of mine and this guy -- we'll call him Mc -- was listed in the acknowledgments.
Unfortunately his name was misspelled with a "q" instead of a "g" and when my co-author went to correct it on the page proofs he made the mistake of underlining the "q." The typesetter interpreted this as meaning to capitalize the "q" so now it was a "Q."

In other words, it looked as if the guy's last name was McQueer or something along those lines.

Now a normal person would understand this was just a typo. I mean, I'm openly gay, why would I want to call anyone a "queer?" This fellow and I were hardly good friends, but we had had no quarrels over the years.

Anyway, he and his girlfriend decided to host a publication party for my co-author and myself [I think this was more for my co-author than for me, and it was probably the idea of the girlfriend and not "Mc," but it was still a very nice gesture. And a very nice party]

Mc went so far as to post the proper spelling of his name on the front door where everyone could see it.

He then went through the book itself and spotted an error and told everyone that I must have been the one who made the mistake -- not my co-author. [The irony was that it was my co-author who made that mistake and also compounded the original typographical error by underlining it!]

As I was a guest in Mc's home, I couldn't say what was on my mind [very, very frustrating for me] so I simply ignored his tackiness.

It wasn't long after this that Mc and his long-time live-in girlfriend got married or became domestic partners or something along those lines. I guess he was scared that because of a simple, inadvertent typographical error everyone would think he was, like, McQueer.

Like I say, talk about homosexual panic [the fear that you are or people might think you are gay]! And this was no teenager but a middle-aged man bordering on senior citizenship!

Well, at least it got him to marry his girlfriend [a lovely woman by the way].


charles mcq said...

My last name is actually McQueer and I've never had a problem with what people think of course I got the occasional joke but nothing that made me feel as any less of a person, I'm straight by the way.

Bill Samuels said...

Thanks for your comment, Charles!