Jerame Davis

"That's so gay" open thread

Filed By Jerame Davis | June 21, 2008 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, The Movement
Tags: LGBT community, open thread, slurs, That's so gay

EDITOR'S NOTE: Since Jerame's post keeps getting comments regularly even though it was originally published May 23rd, I thought I'd bring it back to the front page for more discussion.

Does the phrase "That's so gay" bother you as much as it does me? I hear it here and there, particularly with younger folks, in the context of something being stupid, lame, or otherwise unflattering.

Since gay meant happy and exuberant before it meant queer, surely this new usage stems from the word's roots as a term for homosexuality. I can only guess this means that these people find gays undesirable at the very least.

What do you think? Is my armchair etymology way off base here? Does "that's so gay" annoy the hell out of you too?


Recent Entries Filed under Living:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.


Eric Georgantes | May 23, 2007 9:33 AM

Being a college student who doesn't spend too much time "hanging out" with college students who are not gay, I don't hear it. I don't think I've heard the phrase in public for at least a year or two, honestly.

When my younger brother says it, it does raise a bit of an eyebrow, but I'm not that offended. I think I'd have to hear it more often to really know how I feel. In theory, I don't think I'd care that much, but you can never really say until you experience something like that for yourself.

My 16-year old daughter uses that phrase, and my attempts to help her understand that it could be offensive have completely failed. Her response is usually that everybody at school says it, that none of her gay friends at school are offended and that they know she doesn't mean anything personal by it. I even took home the articles about the student who was successfully sued for using the phrase, but it didn't faze her at all. She thought it was stupid. At this point, I really don't know how to get it through to her.

Yes. It instantly pisses me off when I hear it.

I automatically think less of anyone who uses the phrase. When I was a manager for several employees, one of the "rules" of my management was that the phrase was forbidden. I remember one employee in particular who used it often when he started. When he left, he understood why it was offensive and had stopped using it.

Oh - I almost forgot - for Haley:

Explain that the words "nigger," "kike," and "wop" also used to be common without a lot of folks getting upset about it until civil rights based on nationality or race was fully accepted. Remind her that is no different and ask her how she'll feel 20 years from now knowing that by justifying her usage, she'd have been one of those who thought calling an African-American a "nigger" would be okay since "everyone else is doing it."

Don Sherfick | May 23, 2007 10:44 AM

Interesting! A few weeks back I blogged here that I had problems with the term "queer", and most folks weren't nearly as concerned. But I don't judge "that's so gay" nearly as harshly and I would "that's so queer". Must be my age.

It highly offends me. I had a supervisor who thought he was still in high school and used the term, only twice though. The first time, I explained why I found it offensive, using the same reasoning as Bil stated above. The second, I informed him I would be making a written complaint to HR. It amazed me that a 38 yo man had to be reprimanded to get it.

Bruce Parker | May 23, 2007 11:49 AM

bill, I don't know if your connection works to help Haley. Gay and Nigger are not really similiar. I would think Fag or Dyke are closer to nigger in usage.

Jerame, I actually kinda like the phrase and don't take offense to it. This is a conversation I ended up having with my college students each term and most often the figured out that they would not allow the phrase in their high school or elementary school classrooms. I let them read readings about homophobia and talk about it to come to their own conclusions.

As my student, Meghan would explain it.... "For a grown up gay man (referencing me so take issue with the grown up part if you know me well enough) to be offended by a statement like that is just well you know SO GAY."

Don, I didn't agree with your queer post because it's the exact opposite usage from "that's so gay". Queer is a derogatory term taken from the bigots and repurposed to take the sting out of it. Similar to African-Americans taking back nigger. Gay has always been a nicey-nicey term to refer to gays. It never had a negative connotation until it started being used in this way. There is no redeeming way to use the phrase "that's so gay", but there are plenty of redeeming ways to use "queer".

Haley, I agree with Bil. Draw your distinctions more starkly for your daughter. Explain to her how using that phrase continues the negative stereotypes of gays. Another example that may hit home is to compare it to "girlie" or "pussy" or "sissie" being used to describe an effeminate or shy boy.

Bruce, coming from you, I'm astonished that you would think this turn of phrase is acceptable. Is it because you, yourself, don't identify as a gay man per se? How can my "gayness" being compared to stupidity, moronity, or idiocy not be offensive? If being offended by this phrase is "so gay," then I'll own being "so gay." And tell your student Meghan that there are plenty of grown lesbians who find it offensive too. Gay is not just a male term.

I abhor this phrase, though when I was a teen I was guilty of using it often. I teach high school and, I was very tired of hearing this phrase constantly coming out of my students' mouths. So, I've banned the use of the phrase in my class. I don't punish offenders. Instead, I instantly respond whenever I hear it by asking the student to please rephrase their remark in a less offensive way. Usually the student just restates their comment by saying "That's so stupid," or "I don't like that," or the like. I then thank them for using a more appropriate phrase. I've found please and thank you are the two best tools for getting students to follow your requests. I occasionally get a little static from the kids on this. When they try to argue about it, I simply remind them that I know they have very good vocabularies and that it should be no problem for them to find a less objectionable way to express themselves. Usually that's all it takes to get them to change their choice of words. While this hasn't completely eliminated the use of the phrase in my class, I now hear it maybe only once ever other week or so instead of once every hour or so. It is, unfortunately, a part of the vernacular of these kids and inevitably a student will slip every now and then. I've also noticed that other students in the class now feel more free to speak up and correct their peers when they hear that phrase or other racist, homophobic, sexist or otherwise offensive remarks.

Doesn't bother me at all.
I'm not a person that thinks what everyone says should be PC. Kids in general can be very mean, and no matter how they are told that being mean is wrong they don't tend to care. If "That's So Gay" was the worst thing I ever heard growing up, it may offend me more. People use the phrase "That's So Retarded" or use to use that phrase all the time. I tend to think that is more offensive

That's a good point, Phil. I'm guilty of that one occasionally still. "That's so retarded" was a regular part of my vocabulary like "That's so gay" is today. I really had to train myself not to say it once it sunk in that it was offensive, but it does occasionally still slip out unfortunately. For example, I was talking with someone that I really wanted to leave a good impression with. What do I say? Yeah. You guessed it. It just came out of nowhere and I realized as soon as I'd said it what had actually just came out of my mouth. *sigh* I apologized and we moved on, but it was mortifying.

Now I wish "That's so gay" had the same effect on everyone else that my mistake had on me...

Yes. Irritates the living hell out of me, to hear people using "gay" as a derogatory. Of course, where I grew up, the trend for a while when I was in middle school was for the kids to say "That's so Jewish." WTF with all the bigotry? Drove me nuts even before I realized why.

It is offensive to me. I teach high school and we talk about this phrase in my unit on stereotyping. We also discuss similar phrases, "that's so retarded" and "that's so ghetto"...both of which I said when I was younger, unfortunately.

Zach Adamson | May 23, 2007 10:25 PM

I dont like it, but people who use it are dorks anyway... Hmm. Dorks.. ok so Im aging myself a bit.. yikes.

Bruce Parker II | May 24, 2007 12:12 AM

Jerame,

I don't think my lack of being upset by it has to do with me identifying as queer as opposed to gay. I did have a good conversation about it (the use of gay in this way. and am pretty split on it. I don't think clamping down and implementing firm rules preventing us from talking about it accomplishes anything in the end. I don't tell my student they can't use racial charged terms when we talk about race and racism. Instead I focus on talking about those terms when they come up. Silencing language doesn't accomplish much.

Still thinking about it...

Bruce - So what's the positive aspect of using that phrase? I just don't see any, as we debaters say, offense for using it. It's pretty obvious what it means and what the speaker is implying when she/he/ze says it.

And speaking of silencing.... You came into this discussion basically calling anyone who takes offense to the term a crybaby, and now you're accusing Jerame of trying to be a fascist and make rules to clamp down on language when he never suggested that. Those seems like two pretty huge silencing mechanisms to me....

Don - Totally see where you're coming from. But I'm still the opposite of you! What are we going to do about this situation? I want just to bask in the glow of agreeing with Don Sherfick all day, and that's looking less and less possible!

Here, do we both like ice cream but feel that too much of it can be unhealthy? Can we at least start there????

Jerame - Maybe it's good that I'm laying off the open threads. I never would have asked this question because I honestly didn't think that there was much to debate here.

Bruce Parker II | May 24, 2007 4:55 AM

Alex,

I really enjoy you.

I was sharing Meghan's (my student) statement which I thought was cute and worthwhile. She is an example of one of the students I worked with who said the phrase thats gay but has went on to participate in Purdue's Queer Student Union doing work around gender identity inclusion at Purdue - an effort that has still been largely unsuccessful but time will tell. My point being that I don' think that gay bashers and christian fundamentalists are saying "thats so gay" as they beat gay men to death or call their senators asking them to vote down legislation that is progay. I think some of where the use of the phrase is coming from is the result of media portrayals such as Jack from Will and Grace. The calling of crybaby you reiterate was not my intent however, I do enjoy that you called me out on it. This is the best bilerico debate I have seen in awhile.

In regards to accusing Jerame of clamping down on language - I can actually see how you would read that from my response but it wasn't my intent. I was chiming into the rest of the conversation. Thinking specifically about Bil discussing his managing approach around the issue. But, I can totally see where my lack of structure in my response would be confusing around my intent.

Bruce

Thanks for the tips and I will continue to try to pound it into her head. However, I have to say that I don't think it will mean much coming from her mother. What might make a difference is if her gay friends actually told her they found it offensive. Unfortunately, she tells me they use the same phrase!

the phrase is offensive in the way it is used, because the word "gay" is a stand-in for ugly, stupid, etc. i suggest we take it back by using it in a positive way. OMG the new Harry Potter movie is so gay; i love it! that sandwich was so gay; it had 3 kinds of cheese! it could become like the word "funky", which has 2 opposite meanings, depending on how you say it. and that would be really gay!

Christianna,16. | July 14, 2007 8:18 AM

Urgh my god-YES! its the one thing that siriously pisses me off. I mean we would never say 'urgh thats so straight' Being 16, I'm in a high school where they use it alot. People just dont think it offends you which pisses me off alot. I wish they would stop using it as a derogatory name or something thats bad. I dont see how people don't get offended when others are using the term as something 'lame' or bad' as gay dosn't mean that. If they're saying like 'wow thats camp' or eccentirs in a camp or gay way then they're actually meaning 'its camp' but is SO pisses me off and I think I have it worse off as I'm in a highschool and they use it all the freakin time. urgh!

I don't like it. I once asked my sister not to use it because it grants a word that defines my identity a negative connotation, despite years of fighting to remove the stigma; she got it then. A later time, I told her not to use that language because it's bigoted, and she told me I take things too seriously.

I'm the type of person who would normally take offense if someone were to trash gays or lesbians in front of me. However, I don't have a problem with that phrase, possibly because I've spent too much time studying language. Many of the words and phrases we use today have changed in meaning from earlier, more volatile meanings. For instance, I'm sure many have seen the "rule of thumb" scene from Boondock Saints. The point is, language is a tool for us to use... not a rulebook for us to follow. We change the meanings of words for our own purposes. Language evolves with the times, if we don't let it, it stagnates and eventually dies (like Latin!). I know this is an impossible dream, but one day we will learn to look at intent, instead of wording. Until then, I won't use the phrase... my lesbian mother would kill me! LOL!

I myself (a teenager) use the term a lot with friends. However, being bisexual and having quite a few homosexual friends, its usually come to an understanding that when we're joking or picking on each other, we use 'gay' as a term of endearment, and occasionally other terms. Note that this is only used between close friends.

However, when we're being insulting, it's common knowledge that we use the term by the spelling "ghey". It's still pronounced the same generally, but it takes the homosexual part out of it.

Yes, it still annoys me when someone uses it when they're using 'gay' as a derogatory term.

Yet, for the most part, what I'm saying is that the majority of us aren't usually using it as an insult to the LGBT community. :)

~Streea

"is so gay" can represent pride too.
Check it out: http://www.issogay.com
Fortunately the good guys secured the URL.

It does annoy me. I understand that most of the time whoever is saying it is not actually referencing homosexuality as a bad thing, it's just a word in common use that may have anti-gay roots, but by now, I've only come across a few people that use it seriously as a slur. It seems to be similar to "that's so retarded" (as someone else has already pointed out...). Few people are actively trying to insult the mentally challenged. It still stings, though.

I've weaned most of my friends off of the phrase by reminding them that I'm gay, and surely they don't think that I'm "gay". It usually makes them pause, then say, "you know what I mean..." , but by now they just don't use it anymore... at least not around me... maybe out of consideration for my sensitivities, or maybe because they don't want me to chew them out... Either way, I don't have to hear it.

Going in another direction (kind of...), I do have gay friends who use it in the debateably derogatory context and think little of it.

So, I personally find it inappropriate, even if the development of popular culture and language has modified it to be non-homosexually related... maybe in a few years, everyone will see it the same way. I try not to fret too much, but I will a little, just so people know...

Oh, lord, Bil, remember all of these old commenters? We definitely have a new community of commenters on the site now.

The only two I noticed were Morgan and MidgetQueen. Zach, Phil, Joe and Eric are all still here commenting occasionally. Zach and Eric, in particular are regulars still. Eric, Jerame and I chat over AIM even. Most of the others I didn't really know as well but several of the names are just first names. I think our first community of commenters have definitely influenced the evolution we've had. But I like the community here now and wouldn't change it for the world.

'Cuz that would be, uh, gay.

*ducks*

I really don't like it either, mainly because of the connotation that "gay" is something to be disparaged. I heard one of my teenage brothers use the phrase at a family event once, and the way I dealt with it was I told him, "I don't like it when you say that. When you say that, you're dissing me and people I care about.". I could practically see the wheels turning in his head as, as well as in those of my sister and one of my other brothers, also both teens, as they drew the connection. I don't know if they still say it around their friends, but they certainly don't use that phrase around me anymore.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | November 14, 2007 2:06 PM

The phrase bothers me a lot, and I think less of people who use it. And I agree with you wholeheartedly that it is the opposite of what happened with "queer."

Btw, I have a friend who is disabled--she will never be able to walk without using a crutch. She finds the word "lame" to be offensive and I've avoided using it to mean stupid or unflattering ever since she pointed out that it bothered her greatly.

Nobody ever says "That's so Gay" to indicate a positive sentiment, it is solely meant to indicate negative sentiment or regard.

Imagine if you made a comment I disliked and I responded "That's so Black!" as a means to disparage your opinion without rebutting it.

If people use the "that's so gay" expression around me I calmly and politely explain that they are being offensive.

If they try to hide behind "everybody else" I tell them what my late, unlamented by his family but beloved of voters, left-liberal politician Dad, born in 1914, grew up calling Brazil nuts in the shell. His casual and quite oblivious racial slur puts their casual and oblivious homo slur in historical perspective.

His natal cultural environment in the 20's treated people of colour as inherently "lesser." He'd absorbed that bias unconsciously while consciously believing he was "colour-blind," because he had a "black friend."

Most people nowadays who use "that's so gay" are doing exactly the same thing, oblivious to the negative cultural bias they are validating, and reinforcing. They are also usually hugely embarassed, and defensive if you take the time to point it out to them. Just like my Dad was decades ago over the Brazil nut thing.

'Course when I was a teenager the cultural environment I grew up in considered gang violence perpetrated against solitary gays or negroes to be a positive bonding experience for youth. I remember being hospitalized by thugs who it later turned out were friends of one of my brothers. The brother, when he found out, kept their identities secret.

So I must admit I find "that's so gay" a vast improvement, albeit still worthy of rebuttal.

You know, Brynn, I would have never thought about "lame" being derogatory toward the disabled. There are so many words that we use regularly that are probably offensive to certain groups: "Retarded" - offensive to the mentally challenged
"Gypped" - offensive to gypsies and similar ethnic groups
"Jew" - (in the derogatorily descriptive way of saying someone has bartered you down in price) is quite offensive to Jewish people
"ghetto" or "urban" - both are racist and show an insensitivity to African-Americans
"white trash" - This one is both racist AND classist in that it's used to differentiate whites from blacks yet still lump them together. I guess whomever made this one up thought it was going too far just to call them trash (which was a term often applied to African-Americans in the 1800s.)

I could go on, but you get the idea. I've encountered folks who use each one of the above with gusto. I'm sure it's safe to say that just about everyone has used either one of the terms above or a similar one without even thinking about the connotation of the word or the context in which that word came to mean what it does today. I mean really, does it make any sense at all to say, "That's so gay." if all you know is the literal dictionary definitions of the word? If you didn't know that gays were viewed negatively in society, the sentence wouldn't stand on its own. What about "that's so ghetto"? Same thing. If you weren't aware of the history of American black ghettos and the culture that was born from those ghettos, it'd be a very odd statement. There were Jewish ghettos in Germany before and during WWII and these were vastly different places from the ghettos referenced when using this word as an adjective.

The same goes for most of these words or phrases. People use them wantonly without thinking about it. But somehow, someway, when you use words and phrases like these, you are unnecessarily demeaning someone else. Some people may not know it, some may do it anyway, the outcome is the same - hatred, bigotry, discrimination, and all those other isms and phobias have a place to call home.

Amen, Canuk. We've moved into an era where the homophobia is sometimes kinder and gentler - and therefore far more insidious.

An example on the race side: polls will tell you that the vast majority of white Americans believe that racism in this country is no longer a big problem. These would no doubt be some of the same white Americans who fall hook, line, and sinker for the bait that is the "welfare mom" stereotype every damn time.

Bah.

Hi,
Anyone who thinks the term is harmless obviously has not had it used against them as a weapon. My school life was made miserable by the constant use of this and other gay slurs. The teachers thought it was harmless too. I was suicidal. Getting bashed up frequently and harrassed every single day, is no fun. The phrase is intended as a put-down, and demeans both the person/place/activity/thing and gay people alike. Emphasis on the gay _people_ part.

Kids adopt such phrases after hearing them because they don't understand the offense intended, and so in their ignorance, just think it is cool. It does become clearer to them later, but as they don't have the maturity to challenge it, they usually continue its use anyway, if is tacitly condoned.

They need to know why it is not OK. They need to be told, and for it to be reinforced. Is that silencing? Great, I am all FOR silencing what has its original intent in an evil and deliberate practice. It is not OK to silence something that stems from a natural, positive expression. It IS however incumbent on us to silence that which is hurtful and ill-intended.

So those soft on its use, think about this. This is one of the mechanisms through which kids learn it is 'OK' to harass and ridicule 'the other', and how hate and entrenched attitudes are condoned and perpetuated. For there to be change, we need to make it happen. The small stuff is just what you see on the surface. It is a symptom of something deeper and more insidious.

Explain to me just how it can be OK to belittle or debase someone because of their perceived sexuality or to apply a sexuality as a derogatory term?

How would I prevent it then?
I would say, in a jocular vein, that no way hon, I see no rainbows or sparkle. If it was Gay, it'd have bang, It'd have colour. _That_ doesn't have anything, it's just plain crap.

Just re-codify the term to something more appropriate.

(but, 'lame' just means can't walk... so something that does not run or get up can be very fairly called lame without offense intended. I have pinged my partner on occasion for using the term within earshot of someone who was disabled though, just because it is insensitive, not offensive).

Regards, Grace

ooooh! i am the first to comment since december! i hate homophobic remarks, but often when i have heard the phrase "that's so gay!" i was not offended. someone might have been desribing a particularly fabulous blouse or jacket. or even my own response to some hot stud. LOL if that is gay, i am guilty, i am so gay! as a transgender woman, even though i am attracted to men, i still consider myself gay. i'm not ashamed of it; i am proud. my gay friends are the most intelligent, bravest, kindest, beautiful - and yes, fabulous - people i know. we rock! totally! and i don't want one of you out there to forget it! ever. you are all wonderful...

Funny that I stumbled on this thread today, since the topic came up at work a while back and the very same discussion arose.

A co-worker who is very straight but absolutely not homophobic used the term in my presence and there was sudden and utter silence in the room as everyone turned to look at me and see what I'd say or do. At that very moment, the co-worker realized what he'd done and tried his best to back-pedal, "But, I didn't mean it THAT way!" and so forth, even mentioning his other on-line buddies who have switched to using the alternate spelling "ghey" in their I.M. chats.

I wasn't actually offended, because I do know that this guy is not a homophobe and didn't intend it as a slur.

However, I did ask him, even if he'd switched to an alternate spelling of the N-word, could he really justify use of a similar comment/phrase or use the same arguments that they didn't mean it THAT way?

I think he got the point.

lightsey-offutt | March 13, 2008 1:17 PM

Fascinating topic because of the flux and flow of language and its levels of meaning. I already see the "so gay" construction being reclaimed by at least some gays: similarly to the words queer, faggot and dyke in earlier eras.

For example, when I say such and such "is so gay" to my gay male partner (we're 53 & 60, but have a lot of contact with youth culture) the expression can embrace any number of subtleties, such as "that's so lame, in a--(particularly to gay sensibilities/aesthetics)--tasteless, tacky, or flaky kind of way. Or, I could mean that it is something good, cool, interesting, "fun" that is "so GAY".

To push this idea further, and really reclaim the "slur": If my partner were say, to put on every single diamond ring he owns to walk the dog for five minutes (as he often does), i might say "that is the gayest thing I've ever seen!"--in which case the so-called hate speech is transformed to the kind of very special and intimate camp endearment/insult that might pass between two men who have been friends and lovers for 37 years.

Yes, I DO hate hearing the expression out the mouths of teens and even younger kids as a kind of all-purpose putdown. But I'm guessing that much as I don't care to hear that particular phrase, sometimes, some users may actually be inserting a subtle level of meaning in the expression-as in "that is fey, or stupid or wimpy or silly in a specific way"--not just a random "that is bad, repulsive, unmanly, etc." And that not all users are actually consciously or un-, ascribing those particular negative qualities to homosexuality and/or homosexuals as a group when they say "so gay".

I've been out since I was in my teens, but I'm not afraid to admit, that just in general, I have definitely seen/heard things that immediately brought to my mind, if not lips, the phrase "that is so gay" or "that is so queer" and not I believe as an expression of internalized homophobia, etc.....

Anyway, this is an endless topic, I think there are thousands even millions of interpretations of "that's so gay" out there based on what we each bring to the phrase when we hear or think about it.

storyjasper | March 19, 2008 7:55 AM

I find this phrase incredibly offensive. I have heard stories of my young nephews using the phrase. They generally respond with uncomfortable silence. Specifically, a boy (around 11 years old) told them that the fact that I always give them books for birthdays and Christmas is "gay." My nephews all enjoy reading even though they are busy athletes and popular in school. My brother's response (he overheard the conversation) was simply to say: "well, he is gay." I think the comment just kind of went over the heads of all the kids and was not acknowledged. The reason this bizarre usage of the word so angers me, is that it implies that everyone in this society recognizes and agrees that to be gay is "uncool" and to be avoided. Pretty ridiculous when you consider, not only that it is unavoidable, but that nearly every aspect of culture that is considered "cool" or desirable in some way originated from gay culture. Whether it is fashion, trends in hair, tattoos, piercings, body shaving/waxing, music, art, theatre, TV, books, teaching, social work, nursing, media, computer science, Internet development....you name it. The use of that phase is in such opposition to logic that it infuriates me. There is no question that parents, churches, and the dominate majority have so infused children with the message that "to be gay is the worst thing you can be," that the concept is manifested in their speech and communication. Unfortunately, it is not an inconsequential blip in popular language...This kind of thinking lays the psychological groundwork for kids to think that "to be gay" is to be "less" or "bad" and that makes it okay to hurt or oppress gay people...Words matter. They shape thinking and beliefs.

Michael Travis Jasper
author of novel, "To Be Chosen"

Rob Barton | April 27, 2008 9:35 AM

I have a private music school and most of my students avoid saying this around me once they are old enough to realize that it bothers me. One actually looked at me once and told me that it shouldn't bother me since I'm bi, so I explained to him that it was not what was being said that bothered me it was the inherent bigotry in thew statement. Now I have have several queer students and they are generally mid to late teens and when they say it they get their heads ripped off, but one of them looked right at me and said that it was ok for us to say it, his mother was not happy with him.
Our policy here is zero tolerance for any bigotry. I also do communications consulting and this one is a pet peeve of mine.

I've started using the phrase to mean the exact oppositem as in, "that's so awesome!" I only do this around people who I know still use it in the lame way. It works.

Yes, it definitely annoys and offends me. I once, in high school, told my best friend (who came out as gay a couple of years later) off for saying this because it was really starting to piss me off (and he knew I found it offensive). I think he was doing it as part of the conflict in his coming-out process, but of course back then I thought he was just being a jerk.

It's an insidious form of prejudice, because, as lightsey-offutt points out, not everyone who says things like this is actually bigoted towards gay people. This kind of usage creeps into language and serves to reinforce and perpetuate the cultural association that 'gay'=any number of negative qualities.

I think spreading awareness that it is hurtful and perpetuates stereotypes is important, because while it's not always meant that way by the speaker, that is the true message behind it.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 21, 2008 1:23 PM

That's Mr. Gay to you!

Deeds, not words bother me. Have you all read Matt's article below on a Dr Zucker who would lock up children who are suspected of being trans? There is a petition available to sign and this Old Mary has signed it and sent it off to twenty friends. Let us do something today please.

My younger brothers and sisters were using this phrase a few years ago. In their case, I got them to stop after several conversations by finding a way to drive the point home to them. Every time I wanted to say something was bad around them, I said "that's so Mormon." They started to clue in. After they stopped, I stopped an apologized.

Next, I have to work on making them understand the ableism in "that's so lame."

I guess when I was younger, this phrase REALLY bothered me...it doesn't anymore. I find that is shows how ignorant people are, just like a racially-based comment. More often, it makes me just shake my head and smile in that "I-pity-you" sort of way. I WILL say, though that I do my part to educate children by not letting them say these types of phrases and explaining why. This post is great, though, because it shows me how many people ARE bothered by it, and I'll do more of my part to discourage people from saying it. Thank you!

Hello, can I lend a word to this thread?

Cool. Right, I'm straight, and I must confess, I do say "that is so gay" in a derogatory way.

Given that the word "gay" was originally used to describe homosexuals, or more specifically, camp people, as overtly jovial, I don't use the word to describe homosexuals, because I still see the word as derogatory.

When I use the word in that manner, it's more about how something is doing something innappropriate at that point in time.

ie., I have nothing against camp, but in a time of crisis, you wouldn't expect someone to start doing the "YES dance" (http://youtube.com/watch?v=eyqUj3PGHv4 this is awesome btw), and I doubt the campest person on earth would do that.

I don't even have homosexuals in my mind when I use the word. It's just silly. Get a sense of humour guys ;-)

In my high school, I hear "you're gay" all the time. "Fag" is also a popular word. I'm out in my school (although this is possibly a rather unwise choice seeing as my school is extremely rural), but people don't seem to care that saying things like that in a derogatory manner might offend me. Just yesterday my niece called my younger nephew gay (I'm not out to her as of yet) and I kind of steered the conversation away...

It bothers me substantially when "gay" is used in a negative way. I don't think being gay is bad at all. I've changed quite a few people's minds on the subject (including one very stubborn kid I know), and I've caused some people to use the term non-stop. But yes, it's sad and scary that this has become a fad.

This one bothers me a lot. There is a guitar student of mine who has an older brother. The older brother is 19 and occasionally has a girlfriend but he also hits the alternative sites looking for guys. He thinks that nobody knows though his mother, little brother and several friends do. So he is in the closet, ok common enough not problem. But he likes to use derogatory terms like this, and that ticks me off. He likes to call things 'homo' and terms like that.I've been thinking about about either just taking him aside and telling him to knock it off or alternately answering one of his personals adds and telling him to stop it. I wish the kid would grow up. The sad thing is that he is in a slow downward spiral and his little brother is starting to worry about him.
But it does bring up the issue of how sometimes the loudest voices are covering up or trying to convince themselves and others of something.