As I sat reading the newspaper recently, I overheard two college students interacting. When one of the guys said, “You are so gay!” I thought to myself, is that the best you can do?
The “gay” word is used far too often in typical conversation between college students. I’ve heard the word used to describe a deficient cell phone, a tough test or an inept professor. I began thinking, when did “gay” become a bad word?
Politically speaking, the word gay is not bad, does not mean bad and to be gay should have no negative connotations. However, discrimination against the LGBT community has been all-too present in society for decades. Although America has come a long way regarding gay issues, the bigoted use of “gay” is just another example of the blatant homophobia still present in our culture.
Webster has given the word meanings such as light, happy and the sexual attraction to persons of the same sex. So why then has “gay” turned into a synonym for stupid? College students use the term to describe anything in their lives that does not suit their standards or deviates from the so-called “norm.” When using the term in a derogatory fashion, you are not only demeaning homosexuality, but also you are cheapening yourself. Using the term as hate exposes a person’s ignorance and lack of intellectual ability on all levels. The use of “gay” to describe something negative is also a cop out of the English language. And even if you aren’t using the word as a weapon, you still risk offending a person in the LGBT community.
So instead of using insensitive language, say what you really mean. Dig deeper, elaborate, explain yourself and your emotions with some class. The word “gay” does not express that a person, place or thing is bad or defective, it only divulges the limitations of your vocabulary. After all, with $50,000 invested in your marvelous MSU education, you should be able to conjure up a line with a little more intelligence. Try a bit harder when insulting your friend, cell phone, test or professor. Our generation needs to set an example for the future, that we will not tolerate prejudice and hate.
The history of using the word “gay” goes back to a time when homosexuals were judged as second-class citizens. The use of words like homo, queer, dyke or faggot were acceptable by previous generations to degrade LGBT people, something I’d like to think we don’t want to do anymore. At some point, the word “gay” became a phrase to call anyone or anything odd, weird or stupid. Gays, lesbians and bisexuals were called homo, queer, dyke or faggot because a great portion of the previous generations opposed their lifestyle and wanted to deliberately belittle them, but wait a minute – it’s our generation’s turn to make the rules! American youth has overused “gay” as a negative word and we need to change its usage with our generation. Many young people declare they are liberal-minded and they are open to diversity. Yet they continue to use this word in a derogatory manner. Time’s up. As our generation comes of age, we can set our own standards for our speech. “Gay” as negative or hate speech is out.
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