Monday, December 12, 2005

Is calling something "gay" insulting to homosexuals?

I received a comment on the iPod underwear post that I'm not sure how to read. Help me out here:
when you call this "the gayest thing ever" I assume you are talking about
the classic denotation of the word gay. I do believe that having your tunes
available when you are in you underwear is one of the happiest things I could
think of. Keep up the good work and thank you for not offending a significant
portion of our population by using the term "gay" as a pejorative.

I think I've hit one of this person's nerves. That was not my intent. I fully support anyone's lifestyle as long as: 1) it doesn't hurt anyone, and 2) they don't get in my face about it. In our little suburban neighborhood we have gay neighbors, mixed race neighbors, Asians, blacks, Jews (thank you), conservative Christians, and probably some others that I'm not thinking about because, well, I don't think about it much.

With all that disclaimer done, I really wonder if the term "gay", as in "that is sooo gay", when referring to something flamboyant, overly sentimental, or generally not masculine, is offensive to homosexuals?

On one had, it seems like a no-brainer - of course it is. I realize this by applying my usual test for discrimination. I substitute the word "Jew" for the noun or adjective in question, and ask myself how I'd react. In this case, it is, as I said, a no-brainer.

On the other hand, using "gay" to describe something that is, well, flamboyant, overly sentimental, or generally not masculine has become a part of pop culture. You hear it on TV, in the movies, on the radio (Bob Sturm and Dan McDowell, please stand up), and as part of every day conversation. If it were that offensive, wouldn't there be an outcry? If the word "Jew" was used like this, there definitely would, and I'd be leading it.

I'd really like some feedback on this. Mr/Ms Anonymous Commenter, or anyone else for that matter, please help me out here.

By the way, I'm going to refrain from noting that making anonymous comments is gay.

3 comments:

dan mcdowell said...

i say it is not insulting...

dan mcdowell said...

i say it is not insulting...

D. Elk-Dawg said...

I don't know because I am not gay, but don't you think these people have been dehumanized enough as it is -- being denied the same right to marry and all the rights that occur with that designation -- being the target of endless evangelical tirades all in the name of "God's Love" -- the slow inital response to the AIDS crisis -- being targeted for harassment and beatings by drunk frat boys who themselves are probably gay and can't/won't admit it -- having the President of the United States pretty much condemning them on national TV -- all of these things belie the worst human need to scapegoat and our own fear of the unknown (which has always served us well when it comes to foreign policy). Homosexual men and women are first and foremost people and should be considered as such. I think your test is a dandy one. I use the word "nigger" myself. I think that by applying the test you have answered your question. Just because everyone is doing it, doesn't make it right. Remember all the Germans during World War 2 -- seems like everyone was cooking up themselves some Jew cookies. Did that make it right? Gays are valuable members of society. Speaking in broad strokes (of course), they tip well, improve real estate values in neighborhood they help gentrify, usually set the tone for pop culture, and are caring, loving individuals who just want to be accepted. Almost all of them will understand when you rebuff their advances. The problem with the Catholic priests was not a homosexual issue, it was a pedophille issue. The homosexual population of the world is steadily growing in size (probably because the environment at the moment is more conducive to their "coming out"). They are becoming as powerful an economic and political force as any other minority group. I think it is time we become more aware of their contributions and stop with all the condemnations. Two men in a loving relationship, trying to make it in a world that sees them as second class citizens, now THAT'S gay!