In defense of "that's so gay" | Teen Ink

In defense of "that's so gay"

November 16, 2010
By Jack.H BRONZE, Elmhurst, Illinois
Jack.H BRONZE, Elmhurst, Illinois
4 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
No man drowns if he perseveres in praying to God, and can swim. ~Russian Proverb

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. Thomas Jefferson

The controversial expression “that’s so gay” is uttered by many tolerant high school students. It is an innocent idiom and should be the least of society’s concerns. Unfortunately, gay rights activists attack the phrase like it’s hate speech.

Certain activists see the word “gay” in the phrase literally and associate it with homosexuality. However, among our generation, the everyday understanding of the phrase has absolutely nothing to do with sexuality.

For example, when students say a homework assignment is “so gay”, they are saying that it is pointless. After all, can homework really have sexuality?

What students mean is that the assignment is “so pointless.” When they say the phrase, they do not equate “pointless” with “homosexuality” because they are commenting on a useless chore, not a sexual orientation.

I have uttered the expression many times. But it is ludicrous to say that I would mean anything other than the fact that an assignment was futile busywork.

Nonetheless, I have heard hateful speech at school. Whether justified by the Old Testament or an ignorant upbringing, there is hate speech to worry about. Those that hate based on ignorance and fear should be shamed.

However, those who use innocent slang should be left alone.

In our society, we focus on addressing harmful actions. That is why the police are supposed to focus on preventing drunk driving, not jay walking.

Likewise, students who say “that’s so gay” do not violate other students’ right, according to my high school's Agenda, “to be in an environment free of discrimination.” The phrase also does not create “a hostile, offensive or intimidating environment based on … sexual orientation” because the phrase does not describe people.

The Agenda rightfully focuses on actions harmful to students. The phrase does not discriminate because it is free of homophobic meaning. While certain gay rights advocates see an ignorant, hateful expression, I see teenage slang unrelated to homosexuality.

But to those who are offended by my words, I regret my inarticulate speech habits. I hope you will forgive my own and others’ politically incorrect speech: we are not your enemies.

But attacking students’ harmless slang? That’s so pointless.

The author's comments:
Some of my gay and lesbian friends were dismayed by my article, yet they said that they felt closer to me. I have laid my view out there, and stand by them. Although, they should not be seen as a justification for homophobia or real homophobic speech.

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This article has 55 comments.

on Feb. 22 2015 at 6:22 pm
JesusandHisLawyers SILVER, Austin, Texas
7 articles 0 photos 99 comments

Favorite Quote:
"who the fuck has a favorite personal quote what does that even mean" - me, just now.

@SallySunshine, straight people's opinions on issues that they don't understand and don't effect them are completely irrelevant, in the same way that men's opinions on feminism, or white people's opinions are racism are completely irrelevant. Have all the opinions you want, but don't expect anybody in the community to give a sh_t. (@SELI-chan, hmu on tumblr, same username, if you'd like to have a discussion on my views on queer and other similar issues, I'd love to hear your take and have a dialogue about it)

on Feb. 22 2015 at 3:07 pm
@JesusandHisLawyers Everyone's opinion matters. If you want to ignore some peoples' opinions, then you are free to do so, but you will only gain ignorance.

on Feb. 19 2015 at 9:32 pm
JesusandHisLawyers SILVER, Austin, Texas
7 articles 0 photos 99 comments

Favorite Quote:
"who the fuck has a favorite personal quote what does that even mean" - me, just now.

idk if you want my two cents on the word queer but here we go anyway: I'm a lesbian and I hate the word queer. I hate it when people call me queer and I hate it when people refer to the community as the "queer community" because you can reclaim a slur all you want but that doesn't change the fact that it's a slur and you really SHOULD NOT be using it in reference to people other than yourself. But I couldn't care less if someone uses it to refer to themselves. *shrug* straight people really just need to butt out honestly. not everything is about y'all. go take a nap or pet a dog or something.

SELI-chan said...
on Feb. 19 2015 at 2:34 am
SELI-chan, Sakura Machi, Other
0 articles 0 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
A million dollars isn't cool. You know what's cool? A basilisk.
-Welcome to Night Vale (because I can't think of a better one)

I find it funny how people find it necessary to mention their sexual/romantic orientation. Continuing the chain, I'm pan and I totally agree. Adding on, I think that people should use 'queer' more as an umbrella term, rather than LGBT, because that promotes asexual and aromantic, genderfluid, agender, pansexual/romantic, polysexual/romantic, demisexual/romantic, intersex people, erasure (and I know I'm forgetting more). 'Queer' is great because you no longer have to say LGBTAPDI+ every single time while referring nonbiasedly to people who aren't cishet. However, if a queer person doesn't want you to use 'queer' to describe them, /don't/. Also, a note to straight people: the A in the increasingly common "LGBTQIA" does not stand for "ally". (And a note to @JesusandHisLawyers but I looked at your profile and comments and you seem like an awesome human!)

SELI-chan said...
on Feb. 19 2015 at 2:21 am
SELI-chan, Sakura Machi, Other
0 articles 0 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
A million dollars isn't cool. You know what's cool? A basilisk.
-Welcome to Night Vale (because I can't think of a better one)

I love how also people want to comment their sexual/romantic orientation on this. "I'm straight, but..." I guess I'll continue the chain, then. I'm pan, and yeah, I like this comment. 'Queer' has been reclaimed, for a good reason. Saying LBGTIAPPD (sorry if I left anything out) every time gets tiring, and 'queer' is a good, non-biased term for people who aren't cis-het. Unfortunately, not everyone uses it which sucks because the people who don't categorize themselves in the LGT (bisexual erasure is a thing) get left out oftentimes. (just a side note here, @JesusandHisLawyers but you seem like an awesome person based on your comments and profile.)

on Feb. 9 2015 at 9:01 pm
JesusandHisLawyers SILVER, Austin, Texas
7 articles 0 photos 99 comments

Favorite Quote:
"who the fuck has a favorite personal quote what does that even mean" - me, just now.

You can do whatever you want, but if you're straight, your opinion on LGBTA issues doesn't mean jack.

on Feb. 7 2015 at 10:21 pm
Straight people can do anything they want. You don't get to decide what people can do, especially based on their sexuality.

on Oct. 23 2014 at 3:06 pm
AnnaOfMirkwood SILVER, Raymond, Mississippi
6 articles 9 photos 31 comments

Favorite Quote:
"To define is to limit." Oscar Wilde

I'm not straight and I respect this. 

BreezyS BRONZE said...
on Oct. 9 2014 at 6:01 pm
BreezyS BRONZE, Casselberry, Florida
2 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts." Marcus Aurelius

I agree to some extent, but this is where the problem lies. Most people opposing gay marriage, or homosexuality have their oppositions stemming from naivety, mostly in how others feel. While they aren't as bad, people who use "thats so gay" as 'innocent slang' are speaking without regard as to how others feel. What does "thats so gay" mean anyway? Most people use it to refer to something negative, like the example you used as homework. So, even if they dont mean it exactly, they are putting homosexuality down as a negative. I definetly wouldn't attack someone who uses it, but know that, while it may not be your intentions, you may be hurting someone with you words. Next time, try using, "That sucks" or "Thats annoying", beacuse it portays the same thing with the same amount of words. Would you say "Thats so straight?" (not meant to attack whatsoever, just to explain why some  people feel so vehemently about it)

Dudeguy said...
on Oct. 8 2014 at 7:50 pm
People already say that. "dude, we got twelve pages of homework, that's jacked up." What about figures of speech such as "Sally-SobStory" or "Average Joe"? Should the Jacks and Joes and such say that they're offended, and people cant tell them they shouldnt be, since they're not part of the Jack community and wouldn't understand?

on Oct. 6 2014 at 5:29 pm
yasmin Elsouda BRONZE, Riyadh, Other
2 articles 0 photos 8 comments
this is so true, when ever that phrase is used in school ten people turn around and give you a death stare like you just said GAY PEOPLE DESERVE DEATH, when actually its just a miss used phrase that to be honest should be the least of our concerns in-as messed up of an enviroment as-high school.

mirandaxgail said...
on Sep. 26 2014 at 12:09 pm
I'm straight but I respect this comment so much

on Aug. 17 2014 at 4:27 am
JesusandHisLawyers SILVER, Austin, Texas
7 articles 0 photos 99 comments

Favorite Quote:
"who the fuck has a favorite personal quote what does that even mean" - me, just now.

stop straight people 2K14

on Aug. 17 2014 at 4:25 am
JesusandHisLawyers SILVER, Austin, Texas
7 articles 0 photos 99 comments

Favorite Quote:
"who the fuck has a favorite personal quote what does that even mean" - me, just now.

Straight peple don't to decide what words they can reclaim to mean different things. That's not how it works. Just like straight people are not allowed to reclaim queer or fag(got) or dyke or any other phrase that has come to mean derogatory things. The fact of the matter is, the phrase "that's so gay" essentially equates gay to mean stupid, bad, boring, ugly, etc. etc. etc. So yeah, don't use it.

on Jul. 9 2014 at 6:12 pm
ImSleepwalking BRONZE, Hendersonville, North Carolina
3 articles 0 photos 4 comments
Hearing this would also probably discourage people who are closeted to come out, because they are unsure of these people's intentions.

on Jun. 12 2014 at 12:23 pm
slowenowen BRONZE, Brewster, New York
1 article 0 photos 1 comment
This might not be intentionally malcious, but, at the very least, it is inadvertently ignorant. You're saying that it's okay to use the word "gay" as anything you please, and that it isn't offensive, but in reality, that isn't at all true. First off, you aren't a part of the LGBTQ+ community. You have no right to assert what is offensive and what isn't to us. Yes, you do have a right to express your opinion, but I'm going to step out and say that it's wrong. By using "gay" in any sense other than the literal one, you're devaluing its meaning. To say that a test is gay because it's hard or bad, or a waste of time, or anything else is simply not okay, because you're detracting from the original meaning of the word. That said, to use "gay" when describing a non-sentient being is downright silly, because any non-sentient being doesn't have a sexuality, so using a word that describes a sexuality to describe it doesn't make sense. You also claim that your LGBTQ+ friends were put off by this essay, and I can see why. All this essay does is spread and promote willful ignorance, which is never a good thing. I'd like to see you reconsider your position on this topic.

on May. 17 2014 at 6:21 pm
If we are going to be literal here.  Historically the word  "gay" simply means happy, joyous or positive.   It's only later on that homosexual persons adopted it as a code word to identify themselves to others of their preference in a society that was negatively predisposed to their behavior.   Thus to make it a negative is more akin to making the word "bad" a positive.  "Yo that suit is bad my brohter!" Translation "Gee you look nice in that". The example of "That is so Jack" is not a very good argument either since "Jacked up" is a known negative phrase.  I don't know of any persons named "Jack" who have complained? A "Dear John letter" is not a good thing but is is not a dis against those named Johanthan.  It seems if you want to insult homosexuals you would just simply say "That is so homosexual" when something bad happens. Then if you are a homosexual you would have cause to complain. The thing is language changes. I'm a Roman Catholic.  150 years ago the term "Roman" was added to Catholic by Anglicans as a dis to the Church of Rome.  But over time we made it our own. I don't advocate humilating people or hurting them with language but becoming the language police doesn't really change people additudes nor encourage them to treat others with civility and charity. It's more like puting a band ade on a bullet wound.

on Mar. 3 2014 at 5:16 pm
ValerieL BRONZE, Unknown, Tennessee
4 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Never fall in love?"
"Always," said the count. "I am always in love.”
-Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

It's fantastic that you have lgbt+ friends, but that doesn't give you the right to tell us what to be offended by. This article isn't malicious, but it IS a bit ignorant. You are not a member of this community; you cannot know what is or isn't offensive.

screen name said...
on Feb. 22 2014 at 10:17 am
So, your name is Jack, right? What if people decided to start using Jack as a synonym for anything they consider inferior? "Dude, you're wearing pink?? That's so Jack."     "Dude, my homework was stupid last night. It was so ****ing Jack."     They would have decided that you were inferior, and therefore your name would make a great negative adjective. "That's so gay" IS hate speech. Also, you are a straight guy. You don't have the right to say whether LGBT+  folks should be insulted by your words.

on Feb. 10 2014 at 7:35 pm
CharleyLatta BRONZE, Salem, Massachusetts
2 articles 0 photos 14 comments

Favorite Quote:
"We can do no great things, only small things with great love." -- Mother Theresa

Being gay myself, I find it offensive when someone says "That's so gay".