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You're So Gay
Dear Kid who Doesn’t Understand,
Yesterday, you and I were walking after second period. As we were talking, I could overhear snippets of other people’s conversations. “What’s the assignment for history?” “Did you finish the math?” “Hey, can I borrow your book?” I was telling you about the latest fight I had with my mom, and you told me, “that is so gay.” I am not homosexual, bisexual or transsexual. I am not related to anyone who is homosexual, bisexual or transsexual, as far as I know. Your incorrect use of the word “gay” as an insult and an adjective is disrespectful, hurtful, subconsciously spreads homophobia and honestly makes you sound pretty stupid.
You may not even realize that you’re using the word gay incorrectly. I know that gay has moved into our society as a synonym for any insult or to describe anything over the top, but I don’t understand it. Even more confusing is that “f*****” has become an insult given to straight kids, which is pretty confusing, considering that the word’s original intent is an insult to gays. Using these words equates being gay or homosexual with being stupid or ugly. That’s pretty insulting to the gay community as a whole. Being gay is not stupid and is not ugly and I’m pretty sure that those who identify as gay do not appreciate you using their identity as an insult. When you or anyone else use “gay” in place of awful, ugly, or stupid, it gives being gay a negative connotation if you’re talking about something or someone that is not liked. By doing that you’re making being gay a negative thing.
You’re a blonde, right? I know you hate those dumb blonde jokes that people always tell. You once told me that they were insulting to you because you’re not dumb at all. Hey, I know you’re not dumb, but don’t’ those jokes give being blonde a bad name? I sure would hate for there to be any dumb brunette jokes, or dumb tall girl jokes! I’d probably be insulted too. So how exactly is the use of the word gay in place of stupid not insulting, especially with that direct correlation?
You may not know this, but the use of the word f***** is originally a derogatory term for being gay, and it was used frequently to insult gays in the past. These days kids are using f***** to insult their straight peers, but I’m sorry, that makes no sense to me. I’m not gay, so why would it be an insult to call me gay? Why would it be an insult to call anyone who is gay gay? Using a derogatory term for a minority group to insult the majority is immature and hurtful. Is that your intention?
I was at a party a few months ago with a bunch of kids I really didn’t know. I swear every other word out of their mouth was gay, f** or homo. If someone disagreed with what one of those kids had to say, their automatic response was “Are you gay?” When someone did something stupid or a little silly, the first thing said was “Wow you’re such a f**!” I’m sorry, but the constant repetition of those words not only made those kids sound like idiots, the fact that they couldn’t think of anything better to say made them sound ignorant. Not only that, but I have a little less respect for those people now.
Usually students do not ‘come out’ or make public their sexuality in high school. One reason for this is that high schoolers tend to not be very understanding. If one of your best friends were gay, and they heard you insulting people with the word ‘gay’ frequently, they might be afraid to talk to you about their sexuality. They might think you will hate them and never talk to them again, or treat them really badly. That could be really intimidating to them. Personally, I hope that all of my friends can come to me with anything that’s upsetting them. If I knew I was doing something that was unconsciously pushing someone away, I would probably stop.
In May of 2009 two eleven year old students, one in Massachusetts and one in Georgia, both hanged and killed themselves. One, Joseph, was the victim of daily taunts of being called gay. Jaheem was routinely called gay and a snitch. We will never know if these two students were truly homosexual, but with the frequent use of the word by children of all ages towards things which are not homosexual don’t you kind of have to wonder if the deaths of these two innocent young boys could have been prevented?
By using the word gay in place of the word stupid people are choosing to use a word which is not an adjective to describe things. When doing this over 80 appropriate words which mean the same thing as stupid are passed over in favor of words meaning homosexual. Seriously. I looked that up in the thesaurus. I’m sure you didn’t mean to say, literally that your algebra homework is sexually attracted to other algebra homework. Had you used a word like senseless, obtuse, inane, not only would you be making about 800 times more sense, you would sound like a genius.
While I was writing to you I felt the urge to check Facebook. I was greeted on my newsfeed with Kim’s* status update: “wow did i mention i luv chocolate??” and the subsequent comment from Jon*: “who doesnt, ur gay if u don’t”. Disliking chocolate does not make you love people of your gender, right?
I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure you’re not homophobic. Friends, family, children, people who don't think of themselves as homophobic in the least use gay, f***** and homo as an insult. Even if you do not mean it that way, there’s a good chance that other students will be offended. On GLSEN.com, the report a study they did last year in which 70% of homosexual students feel harassed when hearing words like f*****, even if it’s not directed toward the student.
There are many words that are considered swears and completely inappropriate to be used in school, such as the n-word and other words which have been used to degrade minority groups in the past. Homosexuals, transsexuals and bisexuals are currently in the minority, and using these words degrades them just as much as any other derogatory term may degrade another minority group.
It’s as simple as paying attention to what you’re saying. Nobody is asking for a miracle over night. Nobody is saying that it’s illegal to use the word gay. But by making a conscious effort to curtail your use of these words you will find that it’s almost easy to break the habit, and you and those around you will appreciate it. I’m not asking for a miracle, I’m not saying you have to do anything. But think about it.
You never know who might hear “that Tony kid is so gay” in the hallway.