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That's So Gay
“Oh, that’s so gay!” is a phrase commonly heard in today’s society. “Gay” is a word with many different connotations that have evolved over time. Once a positive word, “gay” has been turned into an overused word of negativity.
“Gay,” in a more old-fashioned form, is “to be merry, cheerful and in a lively mood,” (Dictionary.com). In today’s society this positive connotation of “gay”, that simply means “happy,” is hardly used. When used, it is no longer incorporated into casual conversation, where as some of its synonyms are. For example, in today’s society, one would no longer refer to someone’s rather chipper mood as “gay”—if someone were to do so, people would most likely misconstrue what they meant by “gay.” In most cases with younger generations, if “gay” were to be used properly in the archaic form, it would be used and interpreted more in a mocking manner.
Another antiquated meaning of the word “gay” is “to be bright and showy,” (Dictionary.com). One may describe a sunny summers day as “gay,” or perhaps, the vibrant coloring of a flower as also being “gay”—both examples of a positive, yet dated connotation of the word.
One of the modern definitions of “gay” refers to homosexuality, “to describe the attraction of one person to another of the same gender” whether it is a male or female. This more up to date connotation is more widely accepted, though some perceive it as either positive or negative depending on the person and their beliefs. This form of “gay” is used on a regular basis. In actuality, “gay” is used in the place of more derogatory and socially unacceptable terms used to describe people of a homosexual orientation.
The word “gay” is also used as modern slang to describe something “stupid” or “unfortunate.” Used in this particular way, “gay” takes on a negative connotation. An example would be if someone wanted to put another person down or had a problem with a certain subject, they might call that person or subject “gay” in order to belittle it. This particular connotation is used with younger generations, and is used frequently within their conversations.
With today’s slang and negative connotation of the word, it is almost impossible to use the word “gay” in the archaic way without it getting mistaken for the modernized version. Our society is drowning with sarcasm, rudeness and over-honesty. Though there are still people who prefer to converse in a more polite manner, society as a whole has made it complicated to determine the difference between the positive and negative connotation. For many people, when it is used correctly, they do not associate it with the “joyful” meaning that it has, but mistake it for the negative connotation automatically. In most cases, in order to determine the connotation which the speaker is trying to use, it comes down to they way someone speaks, the pitch of their voice, inflection, tone and expressions they have when using the word “gay.”
The difficulty of perceiving “gay” in the correct connotation in which it is being used can lead to misinterpretation. For example:
“She is in the most gay mood today.”
After hearing this sentence, one might mistake that “She” has been belittled, and that they are in a somewhat less than pleasant mood. In actuality, it was not meant as any type of insult and meant that they were truly in a great mood. This sentence could also be received in a positive manner, when it might have been meant in a negative way. Thus, in this example, a out-of-date and modern version could both be misunderstood. In most scenarios, the only way to decipher the difference and the meaning would be through the way the speaker said it.
Another phrase open for misinterpretation:
In this context, two modern interpretations of the word could be confused and it could come down to the way the sentence had been spoken. The person could either be perceived as genuinely being homosexual, or it could be used in the slang version and be used as an insult.
What used to be a simplistic, innocently used word has evolved in meaning to be both a neutral, socially acceptable term, as well as a slanderous and offensive insult. The meaning of the “gay” has taken a complete reversal. In modern times we often mock using the archaic meaning, turning it into an “easy laugh.” People now use the word “gay” as a slang term. In most cases in modern society, people use “gay” as an insult. The phrase “so gay” is used as a way to put down the people around them or to belittle certain subjects. People do take offense to this word as it is used in the place of many derogatory words. It could also be received as offensive as the slang term not only mocks the antiquated version, but also mocks the neutral version. People put others down by using “gay,” which does mean homosexuality. The slang demeans people who may have different sexual preferences than others, in a direct way. The word “gay” no longer resembles what it once was.
“Gay,” in my opinion, is one of the most overused and abused words in everyday conversation. As I look at how it was originally used and has been slowly manipulated, I see how it was once a word, which was in no means controversial, but now is the opposite. “Gay” is so overused in today’s society and has become a word which has no true meaning. People use this word excessively in conversation when it truly is not needed; it is almost as though they do not know what word to use so they replace it with “gay.” After seeing this change in connotation and studying the way the word is used, I feel it should not be included in peoples vocabulary, let alone my own.