not that there’s anything wrong with that

It is an ending-in-5 number of years since I started university. (For some reason, ending-in-0 and ending-in-5 anniversaries seem to be more significant.) I don’t remember the exact date, but the 1st of March is an arbitrary day to commemorate it. The first week was/still is Orientation Week (or O-Week). Among other activities, the student societies set up booths on the main lawn and students can inquire and join. As I wandered around, I bumped into a friend from a nearby city who I knew from regional music camps. One of the booths we saw was that of the Gay and Lesbian Society. Its banner read ‘Are you hung up about being gay?’. I said to my friend, ‘I’m not hung up about being gay!’, which is true but ambiguous. I found out several years later that he’d taken the meaning ‘I’m gay but I’m not hung up about it’, rather than my actual meaning of ‘I’m not gay so I’m not hung up about it’. Fortunately he hadn’t said or done anything homophobic in the meantime. I was/am, in fact, about as straight as it is possible to be.

All these years later, with a qualification in linguistics, I still can’t figure out just where the ambiguity arises. Either I am gay or not. Either I am hung up about it or not. Whatever else I am hung up about, I’m not hung up about being gay. (By the way, I’m not sure what students who were gay and not hung up about it were meant to do.)


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