It's Time to Stop Saying, "That's So Gay"

After watching a video made by the students and faculty at Choate Rosemary Hall, a boarding school in Conneticut, and their disdain for the use of the word "gay" as a slur, I started to think about the motivations behind using the word in that way.

I was almost tempted to write that the use of the word gay in a negative way (for example, "that's so gay") doesn't automatically mean that the person saying it has something against homosexuality. When words catch on with young people, often we don't know where the word came from or even what it meant before we adopted it. So the use of "gay" should be an easy fix, right? Just tell those youngsters to stop saying it. Give them a different word to say. But saying something like "that's so gay," isn't as simple as saying something is stupid.

 

When you're saying some thing is gay, you're at least partially aware that you're saying that thing is bad, just like being homosexual. Regular use of the word might actually be representative of an underlying (or not so underlying) negative attitude toward homosexuality.

What I also think is interesting is that replacing gay with negative characteristics doesn't have the same effect. What if people started to say "That's so fat," or "That's so ugly"? It doesn't really strike a nerve. It seems that inserting gay gives the phrase just the right negative edge, so you know how serious a person is about what they're talking about. That alone proves that when the word is used, the person saying it is aware that it is an identity, or at least knows it doesn't innocently mean "bad."

These thoughts should leave us in a position of self evaluation, and force us to check our motivations for the words we use. Rather than just trying to stop using the word gay in that way, maybe we should ask ourselves why we're tempted to use it negatively in the first place. Are we the kind of people who want to turn someone's identity into a curse word?

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Eboni Boykin

Eboni Boykin is an undergraduate at Columbia University, studying Religion and Gender Studies. She is interested in race and gender in the media.

MORE FROM

We talked to military experts about who will win the Iron Throne

Does Dany have a chance? Historians, tacticians and scholars weigh in on the ultimate outcome of 'Game of Thrones.'

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7, Episode 2 Trailer: New alliances may form in “Stormborn”

Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen may have an unexpected intermediary.

Tyler, the Creator is still a “walking paradox” on the rumor-baiting ‘Flower Boy’

Is he queer? Maybe. Does he know how to use the speculation to further his art? Definitely.

Note to Ryan Murphy: ‘American Horror Story’ reveals don’t need to be a scavenger hunt

The title and premiere date of the seventh season of 'American Horror Story' were revealed Thursday.

‘Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later’ proves sometimes it’s OK to skip the reunion

If you're looking to trim down your Netflix consumption, start by avoiding this pointless sequel series.

Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington was open about his pain. That doesn’t make his death less shocking.

“If it wasn’t for music, I’d be dead,” Bennington once said. “One hundred percent.”

We talked to military experts about who will win the Iron Throne

Does Dany have a chance? Historians, tacticians and scholars weigh in on the ultimate outcome of 'Game of Thrones.'

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7, Episode 2 Trailer: New alliances may form in “Stormborn”

Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen may have an unexpected intermediary.

Tyler, the Creator is still a “walking paradox” on the rumor-baiting ‘Flower Boy’

Is he queer? Maybe. Does he know how to use the speculation to further his art? Definitely.

Note to Ryan Murphy: ‘American Horror Story’ reveals don’t need to be a scavenger hunt

The title and premiere date of the seventh season of 'American Horror Story' were revealed Thursday.

‘Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later’ proves sometimes it’s OK to skip the reunion

If you're looking to trim down your Netflix consumption, start by avoiding this pointless sequel series.

Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington was open about his pain. That doesn’t make his death less shocking.

“If it wasn’t for music, I’d be dead,” Bennington once said. “One hundred percent.”