A few readers have contacted me about a blog post at the Straight that they felt was homophobic.
I read the post after the headline was amended—"dick" had been removed by the time I saw the post. But even with dick in there I don't feel that the post, as-written, was or was intended to be homophobic.
Saying that something or someone "sucks dick" is pretty common, gender- and orientation-neutral slang way of saying that someone or something "isn't good". As anyone can suck dick, or have his or her dick sucked, the expression has never struck me as particularly homophobic. It strikes me as oral-sex-phobic. (Don't we all agree that oral sex is a good thing?)
The author of the post didn't accuse Justin of being gay, or seeming gay, and he didn't go off on a homophobic tirade. He used a common expression that everyone understands to mean "not good".
Perhaps the headline wasn't well-timed, as everyone is currently incensed about the damage that hate speech and anti-gay bullying are doing, but let's cut the author of the post—and this publication—some slack. Blogging is a rapid-fire process. Writing for a blog is like thinking out loud—as a consequence, a poorly chosen or poorly timed thought or expression that would've been caught by Ye Olde Editing Process finds its way into a blog post.
We have to take that into account as readers and as writers.