Still, I don’t think any gay man who’s ever been called a fucking faggot (which means pretty much all of us) will take this claim seriously. “Faggot” refers not only to despicable, ineffectual men of any sexual orientation, but to men who have sex with other men, because in masculist culture men who have sex with other men are assumed to be despicable, ineffectual, etc. -- and fucked, in various senses of the word. There’s nothing more horrible in the masculine imagination than being penetrated anally: it takes away a man’s manhood as effectively as castration. For a man to enjoy being penetrated, to seek out the experience, is not thinkable (even if it’s not unknown to the men who deploy homophobic epithets). Gay liberationists were correct that shouting one’s fagitude to the world was a powerful challenge to the male supremacist order; that’s why gay liberation is now history, and today’s gay movement ambivalently calls for gender conformity, except for its reliably successful drag fundraisers.
Meanwhile, what about the males who say that “faggot” refers to somebody else, the cowardly, ineffectual, effeminate guys – and not to their Homo-American buddies? It’s tempting to point out that effeminate men, the sissies who got harassed and beaten up by the Real Men all their lives, are fundamentally tougher than any macho man – but that would be a mistake, partly because it plays into their ritual of competitive toughness and partly because at best it can only send the bullies off in search of someone they can still feel entitled to degrade as a not-man. That’s probably the core point right there: “faggot” does not say anything about the man who’s called one – it does say volumes about the fears and inadequacies of the men who use it as a token in their pathetic dominance games.