"Tsk, That's Gay"

Post date: Apr 29, 2011 5:58:05 PM

Back when I was younger and much more ignorant, I was guilty of calling things "gay" all the time. This was common practice amongst most of the students at my junior high school, high school, and even a number of students at my college. Many times people didn't necessarily use the word "gay" to mean "homosexual" when they said it. "Gay" basically meant "stupid" or "uncool," but the bottom line is the negative connotation came from it being associated with homosexuality.

I went around using the word without a second thought. "I have to write some gay paper for my class." "This traffic is gay." "That restraurant's food is gay." "That movie is gay." Gay, gay, gay.

That's pretty sucky of me, I think!

But my eyes were opened one day when a gay college classmate got up in front of the class to discuss the use of "gay" by everyone. He was super cool about it, but drove home the point of how offensive it is. I had a talk with him afterwards and he said that while he understood I didn't necessarily mean my use of "gay" to be an insult toward gay people, it still was. I can still vividly recall his response when I asked just why it as so bad: "You wouldn't go around saying 'That's nigger,' would you?"

Now I cringe when I hear people call things "gay." Unfortunately, I hear it all the time.

Working as a children's librarian, I'm around kids and teens on an almost-daily basis. Listening to them, you'd think the entire world was gay. Whenever the word is used in a phrase, there is usually a "tsk" at the beginning, like "Tsk, that computer is gay." "Tsk, this book is gay." "Tsk, you're gay."

I do my best to put a stop to things whenever I can. Sometimes I'll just point out that what they're saying is offensive, but this is usually met with a "Whatever" and an eye roll. Other times I'll use humor: "I'm glad you're so in touch with your feelings you can notice and appreciate when something is gay." That actually works pretty well, but I feel guilty because basically I'm implying the person using the word "gay" is gay, which is not cool!

So sadly, I've come to realize that the inappropriate use of "gay" is probably not going to stop any time soon. At least I'll do my part by trying to avoid calling things "gay" and pointing out to others how offensive it is. I have a feeling that even if I ask someone not to call something "gay" they'll probably just whisper "Tsk, he's gay" as I'm walking away. But thinking about some of the cool gay people I know, I should probably consider it a compliment!