“You Are Gay!”

Today was the first time ever that I heard anybody call another person gay as a form of insult. As you can imagine, I don’t hang out with homophobes, so it isn’t like I even know anybody capable of this. Of course, I was completely shocked.

In class, a student was doing a grammar exercise with her regular activity partner. She made a mistake and the partner responded with “You are so gay! You can never say anything right!”

As I stood there, reconsidering my position on whether corporal punishment is an acceptable teaching strategy, the rest of the students started turning to the offender and asking him, “Are you stupid, or something? Since when is there something wrong with being gay? What’s your problem?”

It’s good to see that most of the students don’t see such homophobic statements as something normal.

23 thoughts on ““You Are Gay!””

  1. I usually say something when students use the phrase “That’s so gay.” Especially since I’m at a fairly conservative Catholic school, I feel like I need to stand up for minorities whenever and wherever possible.

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  2. Of course they were talking about the sexual orientation of the person, right? Clarissa, dont you think they should have just said, “Youre an idiot”, obviously that would have been soooo much better. 😉

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  3. I know, gay means, well, many things………..like………
    having or showing a merry, lively mood: gay spirits; gay music.
    bright or showy: gay colors; gay ornaments.
    given to or abounding in social or other pleasures: a gay social season.

    If youre going to insult someone it is so much more appropriate to do it based on how you view their intellect rather than something else, right?

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    1. I’m sorry, I have no idea what you are trying to say. That people don’t use “gay” with an offensive intent?

      “If youre going to insult someone it is so much more appropriate to do it based on how you view their intellect rather than something else, right?”

      – I don’t understand this question. We all use the insults we find offensive. I, for example, call trolls vile jerks and stupid freakazoids. Other people have a different range of insults.

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      1. Yes, its true that we tend to insult people based on how we view them. I think in regards to how the “gay” insult was used, it probably wasnt consciously intended as an insult for a homosexual individual. Does that make it right, obviously not. My point is this, many times you insult with the obvious intention to ridicule. I ask you, which of those two carry more negativity?

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        1. “it probably wasnt consciously intended as an insult for a homosexual individual”

          – That’s my point exactly. This student is not even fully conscious of his own homophobia. At least, when I say that someone is a vile freakazoid I mean exactly what I say. 🙂

          “I ask you, which of those two carry more negativity?”

          – How is that important? In this context, it’s like asking which of the students has bigger ears. Unless, of course, you see “negativity” as something inherently bad.

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  4. Unless, of course, you see “negativity” as something inherently bad.(Clarissa)

    Nope, but I do see your hierarchy of insults as not so nice. 😉 Especially considering you feel the not conscious one’s are worse.

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    1. “Nope, but I do see your hierarchy of insults as not so nice. Especially considering you feel the not conscious one’s are worse.”

      – This is not about conscious / not conscious. This is about insulting an entire huge group of people who have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the situation.

      “Think about it for a minute………..they are MEANT to insult or hurt. The question is, why do some people think their insults are ok and others are not? I”

      – Anybody’s insults are “not OK” when they are aimed at offending a group of people who are not even around when the situation occurs and don;t participate in it in any way. Do you really not see that or is this all just for argument’s sake? If you want to tell somebody they are an idiot for making a mistake in a Spanish conjugation, feel free. But why involve the unsuspecting gay people who are not around and have not been conjugating these verbs with us?

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      1. ““Think about it for a minute………..they are MEANT to insult or hurt.”

        – Meant to insult or hurt whom? The person you are talking to who can defend themselves in the conversation? Or people who are not even there and can’t defend themselves?

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      2. Clarissa

        If someone is not conscious of an insult it is obviously not AIMED. You make lots of assumptions that the people you insult actually have the capability of defending themselves. For all you know they may be of a lower intellect that makes them just as vulnerable as the “gay” people you seem so worried about. Geez, really………….
        Again, I like some of your stuff and some I call bullshit. This is one of those moments.

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        1. “If someone is not conscious of an insult it is obviously not AIMED.”

          – Huh? He can be a very casual homophobe but he’s still a homophobe.

          “You make lots of assumptions that the people you insult actually have the capability of defending themselves. ”

          – They are actually there, which is all that matters. I owe no further consideration to adults who make the free decision to post comments on my blog.

          ” For all you know they may be of a lower intellect that makes them just as vulnerable as the “gay” people you seem so worried about. ”

          – For the third time, the gay people were not there. This is not about “vulnerability.” This is about believing that someone’s completely natural way of being – like their sex, like their hair color, like the shape of their head – is so horrible that even just mentioning it is in itself an insult. Are you really not seeing a difference between observing, say, me act as a greedy bastard and telling me “You are a greedy bastard, Clarissa” and saying “You are such a Jew”? You really really don’t see any difference? Or saying to somebody who acts like a jerk, “You are such a jerk” and “You are such a jerk. That’s a typical man for you.” Still not seeing the difference?

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  5. Where I come from, this is a regularly hurled insult. As is “you’re a retard.” (People actually use the latter here, too.) I don’t think most people there are aware of how loaded those sayings are. I’ve tried to explain why these are inappropriate things to say, but to very little avail.

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    1. eughhh, I can’t help but feel like calling someone ‘retarded’ is wildly different from calling someone ‘gay’ when he or she is acting stupid.

      Like if my friend is being stupid, then calling him gay is ridiculous being homosexual has absolutely nothing to do with the intellect, but being retarded does indeed have to do with the intellect. Equating homosexuality with stupidity is offensive because suggesting that being homosexual necessitates stupidity is offensive. But being retarded has everything to do with having a less than ideal intellect, so I think it is not appropriate to compare these two insults.

      I’m not saying its not cruel to call someone ‘retarded’ because retarded people are a group of people with rights and feelings and do not deserve to be ridiculed, but it is not nearly as offensive to suggest that retarded people are stupid than gay people are because, well, retarded people necessarily are slow.

      For example it may be cruel to say ‘god, you’re such a midget’ to a short person because it is insulting – but this is not comprobable to calling that person any kind of racial slur or calling them gay because this fuels stereotypes and is therefore much more offensive.

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      1. I think the ideas behind the insults are similar in that they both promote derogatory connotations for the words used.

        I would agree that perhaps “gay” is much worse because its relationship to the situation is less obvious. But the word “retard” or “retarded” promotes the idea that being “retarded,” even if medically, is something that is worthy of insult. People who would be medically classified as such cannot help their conditions, so it is wrong to give the word a negative connotation. Insulting someone for a medical condition is akin to insulting them for, say, being a “midget” (a medical condition in itself).

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  6. @fracture

    How is an insult inappropriate? Think about it for a minute………..they are MEANT to insult or hurt. The question is, why do some people think their insults are ok and others are not? I would love it if you could answer that one.

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    1. That is an interesting question. I would say insults are worse if they propagate negative views and stereotypes of other parties for certain demographics like with regard to sexual orientation, race, gender, IQ level, religious preference, etc. An insult that promotes a broad connotation for a whole group of people–like “gay” for anyone who is part of the homosexual demographic–implicitly perpetuate prejudice against that entire group.

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  7. You can’t take insults literally. There is no rhyme or reason why a$$hole is an inconsiderate jerk or mother****** is not someone doing their mother. We simply know what they mean. Gay, as an insult, does not mean homosexual.

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  8. ‘Gay, as an insult, does not mean homosexual.’

    Whether you take it as an insult or whether you take insults literally is, of course, up to you, but the above sentence is incorrect. Gay is used as an insult precisely *because* it means homosexual.

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  9. How do people not understand that calling someone “gay”, as a form of insult, is deeply problematic? It is assuming that being gay is, in and of itself, a problem. It is much worse than calling someone an idiot. An idiot is a bad thing to be. Nobody wants to be an idiot. Now apply that logic to using the word “gay” in an insulting manner. Being gay should NOT be a bad thing. And if people use the word “gay” as an insult, it perpetuates the idea that having same-sex orientation is wrong, shameful, stupid, and that smart/together/good people are “naturally” straight. All insults are mean. That’s the nature of insults. But this is taking a word that should NOT be an insult and turing it in to one, therby deingrating an enitre group of people– a group of people who are victmized on a daily basis in this country. I can’t believe that anyone argued with Clarissa about this point!

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  10. I really don’t think so. Often, kids take a word and flip it. Filthy bass, sick jump, gay song. To them, gay means blah.

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    1. N. says that he is often called “gay” by other gamers because his style of playing is not aggressive enough. In this case, “gay” equals “not manly enough” in the mind of the gamers. It’s really funny how they don’t realize that, irrespective of their gaming style, all of them could be bullied as unmanly for engaging in such a geeky hobby.

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