Recently I got into a debate about whether the phrase “that’s so gay” is hurtful or not. His point was that since it was so engrained in society, it’s just a “phrase” and people like me should “lighten up”.
I explained to him that since it is so engrained in society, that’s what makes it so hurtful. People don’t think about the implications anymore and the harmful effects of the word.
I explained that when someone says “that’s so gay” they are associating the word gay with stupid, something lessor.
Recently a homophobia tracker was used on a popular social network. This tracker tracked the phrases “faggot, so gay, no homo, and dyke” on Twitter during a 1 month period.
My point is that society uses the phrase “that’s so gay” so often that we have forgotten what we are really saying. “So Gay” was used on Twitter 896,756 times. The word “dyke” was used 346,977 in 1 month while the phrase “no homo” was used 818,652 in 1 month. What shocked and hurt me was seeing how many times the word “faggot” was used online. It was used 2,508,622 times.
This tracker is only focusing on one social network site. I can only imagine how many times those hateful words are used if we could count each time. On Twitter alone, hateful, homophobic language was used 4,571,007 times. Over 4 and a half million times did people use language which degrades the LGBT community.
What I really find surprising is that many LGBT people use that language. I have heard friends of mine call something gay when they really mean stupid. I’ve heard LGBT people call each other faggots when they get angry with each other or just to degrade each other. I find this behavior and language sickening.
My friend who I got into the debate with was right about something, he was right that this language has become engrained in American language.
The song Same Love explains it perfectly in the following lines –
“If I was gay I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately?
“Man, that’s gay” gets dropped on the daily
We’ve become so numb to what we’re saying
Our culture founded from oppression
Yet we don’t have acceptance for ’em
Call each other faggots
Behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate
Yet our genre still ignores it
“Gay” is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk-outs and sit-ins
Human rights for everybody, there is no difference”
The line “a word rooted in hate” perfectly describes my point. Lets ignore the fact for a moment that people say these words all the time and let’s think about where these words come from. The words gay, fag and faggot have very innocent original definitions, but society has warped these words. Society has turned those words into words of hate, then engrained them into everyday language.
My point is this. Each and every time we say “that’s so gay” or “no homo!”, we are taking society a step back in not only equal rights but also in civility. We can no longer accept this language as “ok” just because people use it all the time. These words, with the definitions that are intended are rooted in hate and only spread hate. We all need to step up and tell people it is not acceptable to say those words and we also need to be aware of what we say. Words just don’t slip out of our mouths if we normally don’t say them. Lets put an end to spoken hate and stop using these words.