I searched around for a discussion on this topic, but I haven't found any. If this topic has already been started or if it's in the wrong category, feel free to delete this and refer me to the other one.

Being a teenager, I hear a lot of my peers and friends saying things such as "That's Gay" and "Don't be a Fag". I try not to comment when they say that, but I really do think that saying something like that should be on the same level as "That's so Black."

I think of it as them replacing the word "stupid" with "gay", so obviously when put in that light, it's a pretty bigoted and judgmental thing to say.

So what do you think, fellow Atheists? Especially the younger ones like me, who probably hear this stuff at school all the time. I just simply don't know what to think about it.

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My thoughts on this (and related phrases) were explored in my blog post "What The Fundie !@?#@?! ...." over at http://glennsogge.blogspot.com/2009/08/what-fundie.html
Thanks Glenn. You might possibly be interested in my group LINGUAPHILES & SESQUIPEDALIANS (if you haven't joined already).
Knowing the shit storm I'm about to raise, I have to say, no. The words themselves are not discriminatory. In parlance, the intent of the words is far more important than the words themselves; that 'gay' in 'that's so gay' has become interchangeable with 'stupid' or 'bad' is unfortunate but that's the intent of the phrase, to express distaste, not to insult homosexuals.

In due time we'll find a new word to take its place and we'll be asking if that new phrasing is discriminatory.

Just look at other terms and phrases that have evolved for no other reason than the risk of some people possibly being insulted:

To avoid saying 'Holy Shit' we've gone with 'Holy Cow.' 'Holy Cow' making a mockery of the Hindu belief in the divinity of cows. While I don't give a shit about Hindu beliefs, is 'Holy Cow' really less offensive than 'Holy Shit.'

The National Spastic Society was founded to care for and treat people with cerebral palsy, being called a 'spastic' was a polite way of saying that someone was 'mental.' 'Spastic' has since gone the way of 'cripple' and 'lame' to be replaced with 'Scope.' How long 'Scope' will last is anyone's guess, but I doubt it will survive for very long.

cripple -> lame -> handicap -> disabled -> differently abled

The intent of each, during its creation, was exactly the same. Each successive term was considered to be more polite than the last. I don't expect 'differently abled' to last any longer than 'disabled' did, I've already heard of people taking offense at it and I wait for the next incarnation of the term, wondering just how far backward people can bend to avoid any and all chance of offense by etymological association.

How about this, how about we say 'that's so gay' to describe good things? It makes much more sense for 'gay' to equate with something good or merry-making than something bad anyway -- that is if you feel that good etymological associations are at all more reasonable or justified than bad ones.

Also, before anyone else has a chance to ask, no. I would not take offense if the next incarnation of 'that's so gay' is 'that's so chinky' or 'that's so fob' -- because I'm an adult for whom words mean much less than intent.
Well said Jack. But what was the intent of associating gay with stupid in the first place?

How about this, how about we say 'that's so gay' to describe good things?

Most people do not complain if some trait they possess is associated with something good, even if not everyone agrees with it, and even if the association is not accurate.

But I understand what you are sayhing about intent. Take for example the phrase, "What a Christian thing to do," or "That's so Christian of him." The general intent is to say something positive about that person and Christianity. But if uttered by a hardened atheist, it would take on a whole new meaning.
It likely started as meaning 'overtly feminine for a man' making it more of an insult to women than homosexuals at large. Whether or not the association of 'gay' with 'feminine' is a whole other matter not pertinent to this discussion. From there it likely evolved to mean 'generally off,' from there to 'strange,' and so on to now.

I doubt it was immediately from 'gay' to 'bad,' that's a bit of a long jump. While I have little to no faith in humanity or the inherent intelligence therein, it's hard to imagine a leap like that, even among the most ignorant and bigoted.
It likely started as meaning 'overtly feminine for a man' making it more of an insult to women than homosexuals at large.

So true. Insults towards men are often aimed at associating their identity or behavior with women -- which is very misogynistic in a way.
Having to go to high school *cringe* I know that no one thought through it that hard. Teenagers will not know that definition, and while we'll probably never really know how it started, I think it stemmed from simple bigotry and even more stupidity. In fact, it probably started as a joke or something and spread. It's amazing what these things can do.

Also, my teacher has mentioned the "Christian" thing to do twice now. Annoying is one thing, but I don't really call that professional.
I strongly believe that we all know when we use words to inflict pain or some sort of discord with people. However, when one does so that it connects with a movement and/or age group to be a casual term the question then becomes do we help this violation continue or do we chose not to. The elephant is in the room, do you see it or do you not?
I really, really hate it when people say that. And I love to constantly whine about living in Utah, and of course Mormons are now famous for the gay-hating. Pretty sure when someone says "that's so gay" the respect meter plummets and the homicide meter shoots up in my brain. And they say it... a lot.

And no, maybe they're not even thinking about homosexuals when they say it, but you'd think someone with the slightest amount of intelligence would know better than to propagate such a phrase, knowing what the word gay refers to modernly. And considering it's an insult, I think we can throw at least the "happy" part of the "out of context" thing out the window.

You know, there was an article in my crazy-conservative newspaper that was talking about how "truth" was more important than "tolerance". From my understanding, it admitted that religion and tolerance don't mix, but that it's okay because religion is truth and that's more important.
Who would of thought coming from Bill. But he's still a ass - my apologies to those of the horse-like species.

I have to admit to being almost as bad. I made my kids and their friends stop saying "that's so gay" while in my house - if they said it they got a mouth full of baking cocoa. Instead, I had them say "that's so scientologist."

While admittedly derogatory to scientologists it made me feel better.
lol They don't deserve any respect.

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