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Tuesday
May012007

The G Word

PRONUNCIATION: (gā)

1) Happy; joyful; cheerful
2) Homosexual - one who feels sexually or emotionally attracted to someone of the same sex
3) Commonly used slang meaning stupid or lame

1) He seems quite gay today.
2) Mom... I'm gay.
3) Don't buy that card, it's so gay!

Once upon a time I dated a guy who used the word GAY whenever he wanted to relay to me that something was stupid or dorky. "Don't say that! You ignorant fuck!" I'd shout. "It's a Goddamned obscenity is what that is!"
"What, like saying God? That's derogatory too!"
"Only if you believe in God" was my reply.

That was in my early twenties. When the term GAY was still flung about by ignorant, homophobic frat boys. Dickheads who, along with a raging insecurity in their manhood, lugged the terminology with them from high school days of calling each other FAGS for sitting too close at lunch.

It disgusted me.

But a new phenomenon has emerged. Like women and the word CUNT, it seems that the meaning of GAY has somehow transformed yet again and has traveled a few miles closer to its initial definition.

Increasingly, I've heard the word used to describe something silly, stupid or dorky. Initially, I spoke out in defense of my same-sex loving pals right away. "Don't say that, it's ignorant." But I'm realizing those who utilize it aren't homophobic and aren't using the word in a fashion that is degrading to The Gays. It's simply a euphemism for dorky. As in That picture of me is so gay or Don't go see Madonna's latest movie, it's totally gay.

While living in New York City I heard several homosexual-friendly folks utilize the term to describe clothing, bands, movies. Confused, I decided to check in with a gay friend of mine. For clarification.

"What's the deal?" I asked.

To my very great surprise, it turns out most of The Gays my homosexual friend associates with are totally cool with the usage and in fact, have used the term themselves to describe anything deemed lame.
"The theory behind it is kind of like most blacks and the N word."
"Okay.." I replied hesitantly, terrified of treading anywhere near that word in light of recent Grey's Anatomy and Cosmo Kramer controversy. "Like, a woman can use the word CUNT but if her boyfriend or husband uses it he may as well pack his bags? Like that?"
"Exactly." He replied. "You can tell if someone is using GAY in a derogatory fashion or not. Pretty much, nowadays, it's just FAG that's unacceptable to you hetero-types. But The Gays, we use FAG all the time. You know, we're taking it back and all. Again, just like the N word."
"It's all so confusing." I replied. "So yes on GAY depending on my intentions, no on FAG and definitely no on THE N WORD? But I can fling CUNT around willy-nilly because I have one?"
"Exactly. And I can use CUNT as well, because I'm a FAG."
"Wait. But I can't use FAG even though I have a CUNT?"
"I wouldn't advise it."
"I'll never get this..."

Reader Comments (27)

Haha, I like this post, it made me laugh...even thought that might not have been the idea.

I wonder if someone with the name Gaylord could say the word gay? Hmmm, it's a real name I know that. :)

May 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

HAHA! This was a great post! I say gay all the time!

May 2, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterlifelemons

Well I'm glad that gay people don't mind when us straights use the word. I use it constantly without even thinking and I don't mean it in a derogatory way at all.

Awesome post! Where have you been?!?! I need help getting through these long, boring work days LOL!

May 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJennilaya

Like you said, these things are so dependent on who says them, what their intention is, and what they're trying to express. But if the way some of us speak is shifting to an ironic or silly use of "gay", maybe that also means we're playing on the fairly silly stereotype of what it means to be gay...

Good to see you back, embracing us with open comments!

May 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKyla Bea

Ahhhh my recent ex is a gay term user. Everything is gay, even himself as he says.

May 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFiabug

My 15-year old cousin uses it a LOT, I think it is b/c she is only 15 and can't think of a better word to use. It something is dumb, call it dumb, why gay?
Good topic! Great post!

May 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJen

I'm so glad that someone finally tackled this topic. I like using gay to mean lame, but always have that feeling like I'm making fun of my homosexual friends in some way. Good to know that I can continue my usage of the word and still dance in the gay bars without having to feel guilty. Thanks for getting to the bottom of this.

May 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTara Anderson

Gay approval or no, I'm still not using that term to describe anything stupid. It just makes me uncomfortable. Funny post though!

May 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAimee

gd - you are retarded. there, we took back that word! really, you asked one of your gay friends what the deal is with the word "gay"? was your gay friend representative enough of the gay population? you know, the two dimensional gay population that agrees on most things? did you also ask your black friend about the n-word? because they all agree on one stance, you know. well, when you have an asian-related question, you can def ask me. i represent them all -- chinese, indian, pakistani, indonesian, etc. you are a stupid white retard.

May 2, 2007 | Unregistered Commentergi-in

i was wondering if someone was going to bring up the word retarded. let's take ALL these words back. then those of us who are happy people can use the english language with impunity and leave it to ourselves to know what our intentions are. and those of us who love getting our knickers in a twist over anything and everything can continue to exist in a frenzy of moral outrage. wheeee!

May 2, 2007 | Unregistered Commentergina

I knew someone would get all huffy.. you can't say anything these days without incurring someone's moral outrage... But the irony of gi-in calling me a stupid, white retard because of his/her disgust over my dissection of the word gay is fucking priceless. My neighbor with Down Syndrome wants to kick your ass.. Nah just kidding... he doesn't give a shit. Oh - and, like me, he's a cracker too - but he ain't stupid.

May 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterThe Girl Who

Is that okay everyone? Can I say cracker? Because I'm white and all? Do I have cracker rights? Jesus... Oops! I said Jesus. Dammit. Now the Christians are pissed. Christ. Shit! Did it again.

May 2, 2007 | Registered CommenterMonicaBielanko

Oh dear. I'm laughing my ass off. Of course one gay person isn't representative of all people. But Monica's discussion with one gay person brings up the interesting point that the word gay is changing again. As is the word retarded. Exept you used it in a very derogatory way, which was exactly Monica's point. Ironically, she is the tolerant one and you are the ignorant one.

May 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGemma

I am also guilty of using Gay.

Doesn't faggot just mean a bundle of twigs though? I'm so confused.....

May 2, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterfancythis

It's all in the intent behind the word. But some words you should just stay away from period. I used to consider Gay and Retarded off-limits. But Monica's right. I hear both used all the time as euphemisms for dorky and stupid and those who use them mean no offense to homosexuals or the mentally challenged. I'm sure some gay people see that they are harmless and others are justifiably still offended. But political correctness has definitely gone waaay overboard.

May 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterS

I swear Monica, half your readers are ignorant or just maybe first time visitors who don't get it. Of course Monica doesn't think one gay person represents everyone. If you read the post, you'd realize she's on your team.

May 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

I think it is fascinating when words change like this. I am teacher and I hear "emo" thrown out a lot, as an insult.

Now, when I was in high school, "emo" was an obscure term. Girls talked about The Promise Ring and Texas Is The Reason, et al. They liked skinny, sensitive boys who smiled warmly and wore their hair in their eyes. They were punk rock kids who wanted something different.

Now, "emo" = anything that sucks.

It represents self-indulgent moping, dark clothes, hair carefully swept across the face. But isn't that "goth"? Has "emo" replaced "goth"?

All I can say is thank god people are sick of pretentious sad bastards, no matter what word they're using...

May 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJB

I thought ‘gay’ was used to describe your mom’s face. Ohhh snap!

May 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterWednesday = gay

I thought emo was a kind of music? lol

May 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFiabug

My way of avoiding any kind of social criticism in reference to this - use none of the terms, and actually use real words to express what you really mean rather than using these words that have so much ambiguity surrounding their meaning, context and acceptability.

May 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Complaining about this post is so gay.

May 3, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterjls

I had to change my vocabulary when I moved to SF so I wouldn't offend the gays, and that was entirely my decision--> I didn't get any backlash, I just didn't feel comfortable saying gay, gay, gay... etc.

My current problem is that I like to refer to SF as 'San Fransissy'. Some of my gay friends love it, and others are not amused.

May 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKaren D.

Monica, you just so rock.

May 4, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterwendy in california

I dont get the hang up with cunt, where I come from everyones a cunt "alright ya cunt ?" "fucks sake ya cunt, what are you aw about ?", "aye, you, ya cunt ... !","dinnae be a cock ya cunt ...." cunt is just a word, its not even descriptive, it just means "a thing" - I've seldom heard it used to describe a womans genitalia

May 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMurray

Well-written! I'm really confused by all of this too. I just err on the side of caution and avoid any of it.

But avoiding the word "gay" in SF is like working in the Peeps factory and trying not say Easter. Impossible.

Here are some uses I have for it:

"My gym is really gay." It really is. There are a lot of gay men who go to my gym. I'm not complaining or anything, it's an observation.

"Wow, this place is really gay." Said once at a party at a lesbian couple's house who have a lot of gay porn on the wall, and at a few other places that just had meticulous interior decorating.

Kids and teens and even college teens in most places use the same words today. Nothing has really changed that much I guess. Calling someone a faggot ( you f-ing Faggot!) is still an insult amoung guys. It's a prelude to many fist-fights. I'm sure if they kept records at schools there are probably thousands of fights a day at the schools including that word. Sorry you people dont like it but that's the way it still is. Don't belive everything you see on TV..

May 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJust browsing

i thought your conversation with your friend was funny.
however, i don't see how the use of the word "gay" is changing. it used to be used as a derogatory term for something that was deviant/weird/less than/other/sissy.

it is still used as a derogatory term for something that is dumb/lame/deviant etc.

i can recognize when the word is being used for ironic effect but i still don't think that gives any of us the idea that we can and should go around using it that word all the time, when there are much more effective words we could be using.

May 23, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterlurking!

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