I was eating lunch in the park the other day, and there were a bunch of kids playing there. I guess it was after school.
So this 6-year-old kid suddenly jumped on the back of another, who then ran around screaming…
“Stop jumping on me! That’s gay! He’s gay! He’s gay! Did you see him jumping on me?”
That cracked me up a little, although at the same time I was a little shocked.
I didn’t know anything about ‘gay’ when I was 6.
Until 14 or 15 I didn’t even fully understand how gay men had sex.
I thought they used their penises, to sort of, bat each other with.
I remember asking Devvrath,
“…but how does it work???”
and Devvrath for some reason was being very coy and just wouldn’t explain.
I think the internet eventually educated me. (As it has done my entire life. Thank you internet)
The word ‘gay‘. People get very worked up when this is used in a sentence with a negative connotation.
eg: “Your shirt is so gay”, “That video was gay”, “Don’t be so gay, man”
I understand why people are prickly about it, or why they want to reclaim the word and turn it into a positive. What with all the bullying and repression and Evangelicals denouncements left and right (even though it turns out the Preacher doing the denouncing was in the closet. Hah! Surprise surprise.)
So I get all that.
But I am not as yet sensitive to the hoo-hah about using the word ‘gay’ as an insult. Maybe I should, but I don’t as yet.
There’s this story that has caused some heated debate in the US : In a nutshell, there’s some Vince Vaughn movie with a joke with the word ‘gay’used in a negative context.
This pissed me off. I mean, seriously, who cares about a Vince Vaughn movie? I also dislike the idea of someone saying – “This joke is allowed, but you can’t do this one..”. It’s either funny or it’s not.
Ok, so it’s a Vince Vaughn movie, so it’s probably not funny, which really doesn’t help my case, but you know what I mean.
‘Gay’ is just a word. It has only the power given to it. A random assortment of letters, that happen to make a certain sound that happen to come out of your mouth. I can substitute that word for any, and say it with enough venom to make it a ‘bad’ word.
There are far more offensive words or offensive actions out there, and really, debate over a Vince Vaughn movie?
Flip side of the coin however (quote from somewhere, can’t remember the source, some article. Whatever.)
“Tony Thorne, head of the languages centre at King’s College, London, believes that the gay/rubbish linguistic connection is one that only the under-28 age group can make comfortably.
“It is true now that it is very widespread among young speakers and it is not used with any homophobic intention at all – and that is difficult for people to get their heads around,” he said yesterday.
Even if a person does not mean to be homophobic I do not think there are many gay people who would be able to laugh it off. A lot of people have not caught up with it yet. Many people over 30 are surprised to hear young people use the term in this way.
Does any of this matter? Is it so bad if the meaning of “gay” changes, if the intent is not homophobic? Damilola Taylor comes to mind, bullied at school and called “gay boy”.
Summerskill thinks it matters. “Calling kids ‘gay’ in playgrounds leaves them damaged for years. If ‘gay’ is a word of abuse when you are nine how does that impact when you decide at 13 or 14 you are gay?”
To conclude, I have reached no conclusion except that people are far too touchy and that Vince Vaughn movies suck.
But I always knew that.