Monday, March 16, 2009

Gay People, Come To Rails

People outside Rails think you're already here.

This one's getting retweeted a lot.

Some people have their own variations.

The link's a video of gay men singing and dancing onstage. Get it? It's funny because they're different and they don't think anything's wrong with that.

The dis isn't even original.

Fuck you all. Yes Leah, that includes you. You're very nice and sweet in person but this is bullshit.

Seriously, you use gay as a synonym for bad or lame or whatever? You suck. DIE. Gay people still get beaten and killed all over the world just for being themselves. You think you're helping to change that?

Get over your ridiculous programming-language prejudices and stop endorsing real prejudices. It's this crazy little microcosm/macrocosm mirror effect. You never find bigotry in people with options. It's true in programming and it's true in real life as well, and it looks as if it's true in both places at the same time and for the same people.

You fucking disgust me, all of you.

Language prejudice, and real prejudice, exist in the Rails community too. We're not perfect here. There's this one guy called quellhorst who I hear is a serious homophobic asshole. But we have a tradition of exploring other languages besides Ruby, even featuring speakers on other languages at our conferences, and this greater tolerance of programming languages finds an echo on a larger scale, in a greater tolerance for people who are different, and a tradition of raising funds for charity at our conferences as well.

I've only met a few gay programmers, and they've mostly been Rails guys. I guess that validates all these jokes. But bear in mind, I'm talking about like three or four guys, tops. And if you want to count guys who seem gay to me without being openly gay, these maybe-gay guys, I've seen a lot more of them in Java, Perl, PHP and Python than in Rails. That's because our gay guys have balls, and your gay guys are cowards.

If you're a gay dude and you see all this bullshit all the fucking time, come to Rails, because we won't judge or dis you, except for the assholes like quellhorst, who will learn the error of their ways soon enough, even if it means I have to get out my big heavy teaching stick.

By all means, let this joke be true. Everybody in the world is going to be friends with gay people in their lives. If you're lucky, the gay people you're friends with are openly gay, because openly gay people are more honest about who they are, which makes them better friends. If you want to be friends with a guy who doesn't even trust you enough to tell you who he really is, that's something homophobes experience all over the world every day. By all means, go for it. Live that way. If we end up the language community with all the out-of-the-closet guys, we'll be better off than you prejudiced scumbags.

Fuck you, you bigoted fucks.


Obie says I owe Quellhorst an apology; I'm going to wait to see if I can dredge up any irc logs proving my case first. However, that's going to take a while. I can say, for what it's worth, that this is hearsay, which I already specified in the rant. It's not something I have actual knowledge of, merely a rumor I heard.

In the meantime, if anybody's seriously upset about my incoherent, profanity-riddled rant, consider the fact that it's an incoherent, profanity-riddled rant. Don't take my temper tantrums more seriously than I do. That's silly.

Also, I see there's a bunch of comments on this; that's awesome but I don't really read the comments on my blog. I mean I do, from time to time, but not consistently, and not quickly. I won't see the comments until any fuss has already blown over, so if you're getting worked up about this, please, take my advice and just handle it slowly or not at all. Makes it a lot easier to deal with.

Update 2:

Good news and bad news. The bad news first: I believe it's probably true of Quellhorst and there's proof out there. But I don't have that proof, and I do have two credible doubters, so, my apologies to Dan Quellhorst, it's very possible the rumors I heard were false.

Update 3:

OK, I admit it, I have no idea who this Quellhorst guy even is, I just heard a rumor and I was mad enough to attack anybody. Total mistake on my part.


  1. Giles,

    I have only one thing to say:

    Thank you.

    Since the beginning of the 21st century there has been a surge in homophobia and homophobic-related crimes everywhere around the world (including Western countries, even the most enlightened ones like the Netherlands). Part of it is due to a resurgence of religious fundamentalism (especially Christian fundamentalism), but I am convinced that the biggest issue is that homophobia is seen as "safe". You will get in big trouble saying the n-word, you will not get away with anti-semitic remarks, and you will be shunned for sexist comments (unless you stay within your in-group for the rest of your life). But using "gay" as a synonym for "lame" is a pervasive and somehow accepted slur, especially on the Internet (just look at nearly any random comment thread on Digg).

    Well, that's not acceptable. And don't even try to rationalise it by saying that people using the word "gay" as "lame" don't mean anything homophobic with it. The hip-hop world finds it perfectly normal to use the word "bitch" to refer to women, and likewise argue that they don't mean anything sexist by it, but that doesn't mean we're to accept this, and indeed most people find it offensive. Well, using the word "gay" as an insult is just as offensive.

    And note that I'm no talking about political correctness. I don't want the word "gay" to be banned (another word would take its place. In the Netherlands for instance, teenagers just use the word "homo" to mean "lame"), I want it to be used with respect for the courageous people who dare live the life they are destined to by nature in a society that doesn't approve of them.

  2. What I do not understand is what a dumbfuck one has to be to retweet such absolutely moronic "joke"?
    It's like some grown ups repeating a joke some stupid drunken teenager blurted to save face after throwing up.

  3. I might be underestimating this, but isn't it just a joke? I mean I can stand jokes about kids having their limbs amputated while playing frisbee with landmines, how is this worse?

    It's a joke, taking it seriously will only give it a different nature that pushes the anti-gay agenda forward.

    Taking offense every time you have a chance to is just a declaration of insecurity, and it doesn't help in giving an image of maturity.

    I have gay friends, just as I have non-caucasian friends, and I live in one of the most bigot countries of the world, and trust me, the best thing there is to accept something, is to joke (without malice) about it.

    I really lost my intrest in trying to explain this to you, but everytime you take stuff too seriously, you make it worse.

    This said, an old joke is an old joke, and there's not much to it.

  4. It's a joke being thrown around by some fairly smart people, I would think that in that context it is meant as a joke. I think it needs to be taken in the spirit it was meant for and not bent into some kind of anti-gay bashing.

  5. @Rich and @Madness,

    This may be a joke, but its undertone IS homophobic, whether you like it or not. Jokes are a way for people to say what they truly want to say, because they think they can say it without getting into too much trouble, since "it's a joke".

    If I insulted your mothers and called them the worst things, would you let it go if I qualified it as a joke?

    The issue that Giles has here is valid. We're supposed to be a bunch of smart people, yet we perpetuate stereotypes like this in the name of a joke. It's bullshit and it needs to be stopped.

    And yes, it is anti-gay bashing. You don't see them saying shit about Jews, now do you?

  6. I think this point is a great one. I only got the 'joke' halfway through this blog post, and I'm not laughing, and the points about some topics being ok to joke about while others will get you a dirty look is completely true. Just the other day someone made a comment about rednecks and I thought, "you know, its not a big deal, but if I said something about ghetto this, or Jewish that, etc, people would (rightfully so) have a problem with it."

    I'm all for open and honest discourse, not treating every little thing as potentially the most hurtful comment ever...but people really need to think about what they say more often, and who it just might hurt.

  7. Until I read the complete thread I didn't realize it was supposed to be a diss.

    Maybe I just hang out with too many gay (homosexual) railsdevs though.

    Oh well, if railsdevs have more fun and gay people have more fun, it's a fairly logical extension that gay railsdevs have the most fun. huzzah.

  8. Don't bring a 'teaching stick' to a gun battle :)

  9. Except I guess I am not totally clear on what caused Quellhorst to get called out specifically; someone told you something bad? I think part of the problem with your rants, is you often end up totally neutering them by picking some actual person to target, which causes a whole huge derailing tangent when that becomes a personal slap fight (see the Chad thing).

  10. Telling someone they should not be offended by your joking insult is seriously stupid. You can't control what other people are offended by, but you can control what you say. Being able to predict the reactions of others to your own actions, and then choosing your actions to achieve an outcome based on that knowledge is the essence of being an adult. So grow up.

  11. If telling my parents I'm gay is all it takes to get my employer to switch to rails I'll make the phone call right now and bring random dudes to every family holiday for the rest of the year.

  12. Giles, great rant EXCEPT for the part where you pick on Dan Quellhorst. He's not a homophobe, but he is a gun nut. I'd watch my back if I were you. :-)

  13. The first time I saw this meme was on Human Giant:

    "Telling your parents you're gay is the hardest part of roller-blading!"

    I love Aziz Ansari, and I find the comedy spot-on. It's done in such a way that the protagonist is simultaneously wearing "the gayest" outfit but has this totally blase attitude about the whole thing. In other words, it's funny.

    When people start adapting it to make fun of other things, the context that removed the potentially homophobic stigma is itself gone, and you're just left with gay as a pejorative.

    Some of the comments here have suggested that Giles is just being uptight and "it's just a joke" but I completely disagree. The words we choose have real power! To play on a closed topic, "The worst part about Ruby is having to tell my parents I'm Chad Fowler." (To be clear, I'm joking! I don't know Chad Fowler, and can't possibly be making fun of him with Just Words, right?)

    I'm not perfect by a long shot! I use "retarded" as an adjective near-constantly. I'm trying to not do that, but it's a word I grew up with. Frankly, it embarrasses me.

  14. This is absurd, seriously, a certain kind of humor thrives on being "offensive", it's what it's meant to be. But sometimes it's ok to offend a category of people and sometimes it's ok to offend a different one, until they come to action and demand respect.

    It's like the politically correct christmas they had in South Park. It's not funny and no one gains anything from it.

    My resolution? Stop making "offensive" jokes toward some kind of people, and start making them towards ALL kinds of people. And if you take offence you're a crybaby.

    Jesus Christ, what next, "please stop saying telemarketers are annoying, there are some not-annoying one". And why the hell do I say J.C., I'm atheist ffs. George Carlin is probably spinning in its grave thanks to you guys.

  15. ok I finally read the comments. just want to say I agree with Tim, dissing Quellhorst sucked energy out of the rant. I don't have proof, so I shouldn't have gone there. I'm not exactly impressed by a gun nut, though. That shit was funny. Try it. Seriously, bring your machine gun to a tech conference because I dissed you on the Internet. I would pay to see that happen.

  16. Now that really surprised me, Giles! Normally you're the one insulting people (not that I have anything against it), and now you're agitated about such nonsense?

    I mean saying something is gay is the f**king norm (just like saying something is retarded - this doesn't mean anyone has something against mentally handicapped people)! I say it, a lot of people say it to different kinds of stuff, lots of rappers use it, movies use it, etc.

    Sorry but I really absolutely can't understand you this time, this blows the whole thing waaay outta proportion. It was a joke. And it was funny imo. I mean respect for your dedication to our real world problems, but this is the wrong way to get into this imo.

    Just my 0.02$, anyways, peace and respect!

  17. What are you talking about? I don't insult people. That's crazy.

  18. I hope none of you throwing around strong opinions on the offensiveness of words use the words "dumb" or "lame" ;-) In "dumb"'s original sense it only meant "mute" or "lacking the power of speech" and the "stupid" definition only came later. Same goes for "lame."

    Language morphs and words become disconnected with their roots - it will always happen. Real homophobia must be checked and /this/ does appear to be a case where homosexuality is being referenced negatively (rather than just saying "gay" to mean "lame"). But it would be unusual, linguistically, if words like "gay" did not morph into alternate uses that are not homophobic or discriminatory. Language can be dumb, lame, and, heck, one day it might even be considered gay, without even the idea of homosexuality coming to mind, much as with the roots of "dumb" and "lame" now.

    And if you don't want to offend Christians, "jeez" or "cripes" are out of bounds too..!

  19. Giles. Thanks man. Those jokes were tasteless and I'm glad you are calling them out on hurtful language.

    As a gay Rails programmer, I have to give massive kudos to the community. Its not even something I bring up because I just don't even think of it most of the time. I'm very lucky to be in such an awesome community including other vagina-loving and boob-having Railsers that will stick by us.

    Anyhow, cheers man.

  20. As if needed EVEN MORE reason to hate PHP.

  21. The original joke is one often told by Jimmy Carr:

    What's the hardest thing about rollerblading?
    Telling your dad you're gay.

    The tone of this joke is much, much different, because it's not making a value judgment on either rollerblading or homosexuality, except to joke about how the two are perhaps correlated.

    When the joke is adapted to apply to whomever is on the other side of your silly framework/language war, then it takes on a tone that's a bit meaner and quite a bit stupider.

    I understand where you're coming from here, Giles, and I wish the tone were more polite. But the phenomenon you're talking about is prevalent _out there_ (*gestures toward world*); why bother getting mad over a few retweets?

  22. Peter, I tweeted you about this, so this could just be fail because I don't check my comments often enough, but these morphings happen gradually. This is a morphing in progress. I want to prevent it from happening, and until it's actually happened, that's doable. It was big when I was a kid, then it died out, then it came back. I think it's time to kill that fucker again, and this time put a stake through its heart to keep it dead.

  23. Also (Peter) sorry but your point is completely irrelevant and tangential. It was a very explicitly homophobic joke; nobody has to tell their parents they're dumb. Nobody comes out of the idiot closet. Most idiots never figure out they're idiots; most idiots have idiotic parents; most idiots with normal parents, their parents figure it out before they do. The joke targets gays deliberately, not in passing as a byproduct of language. You could substitute several words for gay and the joke would be the same offensive joke.

  24. Micro-fame from micro-blogging for micro-douches.

  25. Soleone, try using "retarded" like that around someone with a sibling or child who is developmentally disabled, and has probably been called a retard by peers, and you may be surprised but they might not take it well. Just because it is thoughtless for most of us to use, doesn't mean it's not offensive.

    I generally don't think about it, but I was made to feel an ass by a friend in a Special Education post grad program.

    Also geeks get all high and mighty about the semantics of language morphing etc and sometimes I want to point out they live in an ivory tower of sexism/bigotry. We are in a field filled with people who are pathologically incapable of reading someone's lack of interest/offense, we manage to chase off almost all minorities/women, and we want to quibble about how following through on our right to be offensive shouldn't be taken as offensive. Sorry peeps, that might be your Asperbergers talking: falling back to purely intellectual stronghold with total disregard for other peoples reaction.

  26. Could not agree more, and well said, although it would have been better without the "our gay guys are better than yours bit". A little research would have shown certain language communities have very prominent gay members, putting them down without checking your facts is only hurting the people you seem to want to protect.


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