“Gay” is NOT a synonym for “stupid”

Michelle is a 15-year-old from Los Angeles, CA. She enjoys reading,

dancing and her favorite subject is English because she wants to
become a journalist. mail (375×500)

How would you feel if you were constantly victimized for your chosen lifestyle? High school is a battlefield, each day providing you with obstacles to overcome. LGBT teens find it very difficult to come out without being ridiculed by their classmates. Although we may think of ourselves as “open-minded” to homosexuality, the words we tend to use contradict our mentalities.

How many of you have said “Last night’s homework was so gay!” or “Your shirt is so gay!” The term “gay” originally described the feeling of being happy and as time progressed, referred to homosexuality. However, it does not, under any circumstances, mean “bad” or “stupid.” The phrase “That’s so gay!” contributes to homophobia and sexual discrimination. Are people cognizant of what they are saying? Gay is a very derogatory word when used in the wrong context and can be very insulting. How would heterosexuals feel if the term “straight” was used as an insult? An individual’s sexual orientation should not be used as an abusive remark.

My school’s Gay-Straight Alliance Club strives to abolish the name-calling, bullying, and harassment LGBT teens go through. Just recently, they hosted a “Day of Silence” directed towards this very issue. As I walked into school, I witnessed many of my classmates walking around with duct tapes over their mouths. This was a day to be remembered as it influenced many of my fellow classmates to refrain from denigrating the LGBT community. The media has also taken action into helping people realize their wrong choice of wording when using “gay” as a synonym for bad. The commercials featuring Hilary Duff advocating the motto “Think before you speak” have become very popular and influential. It’s assuring to know people are taking action towards this issue to cease the misusage of this word.

My intentions are not to chastise the users of this word, but help them. The word “gay” can slip off our tongues and make us seem prejudice. In order to pay respect to the LGBT community, we must stop the spread of pejorative language to express our hatred. The advice I offer to you is to substitute your vocabulary, realize the term you are using, and think before you speak. For in truth, the degradation of our homosexual cohorts through such derogatory language reflects not on them, but rather on a society, which dares to call itself enlightened while contradictorily initiating a second age of discrimination.

2 thoughts on ““Gay” is NOT a synonym for “stupid””

  1. Michelle, this is a fantastic piece! Thank you for choosing a topic of much relevance, and one that’s often overlooked. While many of us would consider ourselves “progressive,” we often tend not to pay attention to the everyday language we use, which is often loaded with pejorative connotations. Language shapes our own consciousness and that of everyone we communicate. Thank you for shining light on the great responsibility we all bear to, as you said, “think before we speak.” Keep writing!

  2. Good piece, but the argument “How would heterosexuals feel if the term “straight” was used as an insult?” simply isn’t effective – most heterosexuals probably wouldn’t care. This is, of course, because their sexuality is “normal” and there is no stigma against being straight in the first place.

    Otherwise, though, nice jorb.

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