If you’re alive and have spent any time in the Western World in the past decade, you’ve no doubt heard the expression, “That’s so gay.”
We all know what they mean by it and we all know where it’s derived from. We’ve heard those answers from them and their opposition. Over and over again. What we need is a new perspective. Anything less is beating a dead horse, not that that’s not fun too.
“That’s so gay” is a recent enough expression that most of us can remember when it was used as an implication that being gay is a bad thing. So, it hits a nerve. To us, it’s the same as it always was. But, if we just accept that it will always be used that way because it originally was, then we’re no more rational than blacks who still get offended when “nigger” is used in non-racist contexts.
The fact is, time has passed. And, while the homophobes who started the whole saying are no doubt still using it, most of the people who say it today are kids who just grew up with the expression and have never even considered it has homophobic roots. When you confront them on that, they’re likely to say it more simply because they see you as an irrational old fart.
We have other expressions that were originally based in bigotries. For example, idiot, moron, and imbecile originally came from low points on an IQ chart. People get upset when, “retarded” is used as an insult, but retarded isn’t nearly as low as those three, and I’ve never seen anyone say, “How do you think the morons feel about that!?” And, where do you think, “take a back seat to” comes from?
Language evolves, and sometimes that’s the fault of the unpleasant. Do you think we gays call ourselves queers and faggots because we came up with it? Of course not! It’s because we wanted to own our own words and were not going to have bigots dictating when we should be offended. So, why should we do that now?
Let’s own, “That’s so gay.” When we see a dude wearing arseless chaps or kissing another dude, we can say, “That’s so gay.”
And, when we see a dude protesting same-sex marriage while going through his fourth divorce for sleeping with his secretary, we can say, “That’s so heterosexual.” After all, this works both ways. There are no rules to slang. You can say whatever you want provided your audience understands you. There’s no point at getting bent out of shape about it. Your anti-bigotry efforts should be directed toward those who really are bigots.