Thoughts on ELT, English and whatever else comes into my head
When I was writing my Speaking Skills book, I had the standard list of things not to include. No opposite sex co-habiting, no shopping for shorts or miniskirts, avoid dogs. It never said anywhere not to have anything depicting gay relationships but, this is ELT, I know how this works.
The funny thing is, showing people living together that are same sex….well they could just be friends. A narrow-minded, homophobe will assume that and it will just breeze past them. And it is always pretty cheesy when a “controversial” ELT book puts in a really obvious discussion point about gay marriage or something so I didn’t want to do anything like that either.
It seems better to me, and others** to just treat the topic like the non-topic it is. It isn’t an issue of discretion or saving anyone’s embarrassment, nor even, my book contract. It’s just for me, really, are we still talking about this? I realise there is still a lot to talk about in terms of gay rights and places like Russia or South Africa where the social consequences of being gay are still in the dark ages but I think part of confronting that also lies in simply not treating it as something that warrants special consideration.***
So, in this dialogue from Unit 6, Interruptions, I think it’s clear which of the two characters a) co-habit b) are in a relationship. In itself. that’s quite interesting: how the way we speak to someone shows we’re romantically involved even though there are no endearments or explicit mentions.
I’d describe this conversation as slight bickering and that’s something almost exclusive to family and significant others.
Pierre: Josh, I’m home. And Regan’s here!
Josh: Hey, Regan!
Pierre: Hey, this place is a tip!
Josh: Um, I think you’ll find it’s your gym stuff all over the floor not mine!
Regan: So guys, what’s for dinner?
Pierre: So, whose trainers are these then, huh?
Josh: Okay, and this towel? And those shorts? And that …
Regan: If I can get a word in edgewise …
Pierre: Oh! Really sorry, Regan. How rude of us! Go ahead.
Josh: Sorry, got carried away there.
Regan: I was just wondering, seeing as you’ve invited me round for dinner, what you’re planning to cook me since all I can see in the fridge are three bananas and a load of tomatoes.
Pierre: I thought you were getting groceries!
Josh: I did! I just haven’t unpacked the car yet.
**I can’t find the actual article, but this is what Scott Thornbury also thinks as referenced in this post.
Now Scott Thornbury ends his article with a request: “Can I ask publishers to do us a favour? If you can’t include overt gayness, how about a few covert signs that you really do care? How about a few same-sex flatmates? Unmarried uncles? Holiday postcards from Lesbos or Sitges? You don’t have to say they’re gay. Maybe they’re not. Who cares?
Window-dressing vs cross-dressing in the EFL sub-culture, Folio 5/2 Autumn 1999.
***Also I realised this year, to my surprise, that the two Graded Readers I
have out and the one I am still hawking to no avail, all feature single mothers. Just because that is my childhood and it never occurs to me to think of it as anything other than normal even though I know in many countries it really isn’t. I didn’t even notice I always portrayed family life in this way.