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Using Gay as an Insult

"That's so gay."

You have probably read that comment a million times on YouTube, referring to something that is stupid or lame. You have probably even heard similar statements at bars around Metro Manila such as "usapang lalake (a manly agreement)," which connotes that women and gays do not keep their promises or agreements, or "bakla ka yata eh (you're probably gay)" when a man refuses to drink a mug of beer. You also may have watched that local beer commercial that shows a difference between "real men" and the so-called "fake men."

For many, referring to gay people as inferior, lame, unmanly-like, and stupid may mean nothing. "It's just a word," they say. "Why would you be offended?"

The problem, however, is yes. WE ARE OFFENDED.

Being verbally harassed because of our sexual orientation creates an atmosphere where gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender feel disrespected, unwanted, and unsafe. Homophobic remarks may be often unintentional, but casual use of such offensive language can carry into more overt harassment. Using who we are as an insult, like "That's so Muslim," or "That's so senior citizen," or "That's so girly," connotes that we should be ashamed of who we are.

This is what a recent series of public service announcement in the United States wanted to convey: to raise awareness about the prevalence and consequences of anti-LGBT bias and behavior, and ultimately to reduce and prevent the use of homophobic language. The advocacy campaign features teen star Hilary Duff and comedian Wanda Sykes telling everyone, "When you say 'That's so gay,' do you realize what you say? Knock it off!"

The Ad Council awarded these commercials with a Bell Award for Best Public Service Advertising Campaign last December 2008.

However, several people felt offended about the ads, claiming that it is an invasion to freedom of speech and the right to oppose the gay agenda. As one YouTube commenter puts it:

"FREE SPEECH for everyone; special rights for NO ONE!

No, the majority of Americans will NOT ever recognize homosexuality as being normal and natural. It is an abomination in GOD's sight! GOD still loves those people and HE will forgive them if they repent from that sin, but it will never be a normal, natural, legitimate lifestyle."

Does that mean the religious should not have a special right to worship? I'm just saying.


Geisha said…
that's so mean!
been hearing that phrase million times in public places! i for one felt the need of uprising whenever i heard it. but nada! those are for uneducated conversations joke or otherwise!!
reyna elena said…
actually, i'm a little bit confused with the message hahaha! not that i'm against it but i think there should be a qualification of some sorts, meaning, if you don't own the word, then don't use it.

what i meant is this.

obviously, the infomercial is directed towards straight people who either knowingly or unknowingly uses it to describe some stupid things and sure it does sounds insulting, been there.

yet my gay friends are so used to saying that line "that is ssoooo gay!" in fact, i might have used it to refer to something that i did no like.

i'm curious now what column do we belong hahaha yet, i did not mean to degrade my fellow colors under the rainbow
Empress Maruja said…
@ Reyna Elena - This is just like the concern about how some younger African-Americans call each other Nigger. They say that it has become so normal it has de-synthesized the offensive term. Using the word "gay" as something lame or stupid should not be tolerate at all, even among gay people. Would you want to be called lame and stupid? Of course not.
Thats why we really want congress to act now the anti discrimination bill.

Pinkish greetings everyone!
Yffar (^^,) said…
"FREE SPEECH for everyone; special rights for NO ONE!

we are not asking for SPECIAL RIGHTS

we are normal and we are asking for equal rights! there is no such thing as special rights.
Korek, kapatid.

EQUAL RIGHTS, yan ang ating sinisigaw!

Sama sama tayo para sa iisang layunin tungo sa iisang mithiin!
MrCens said…
nanuntok ako ng indian dito dahil sinabi nyang marami sa pinoy bading, nainsulto ako... pero bading ako, hehehe...

tama ba un?

haha thats funny and kinda scary a bit especially that ure not in your own land pero di naman dapat ikainit ng tenga yun. mga ganyang bagay dapat deadma lang tayo basta ba hindi ka nasaktan.

ingat ka lagi jan! God bless u!
Onotheo said…
I am not so much offended actually. I am all for free speech. In certain cases I'd take it as an opportunity to gain insights to other's point of view.

LOL at Colt 45 commercial.

As for using the gay word, I don't know if I would want to tell people to stop using the word in such context. It is a reflection of collective view and changing the meaning is not through suppressing its use.
Empress Maruja said…
@ Onotheo - I could not believe that you would let other people refer to your identity as something offensive. The days when gays were submissive to social insults and unfair comments should be over and done with.
Onotheo said…
The word is subjective and I in no way implied submission.

My point is that there is no point in censoring others' words when it doesn't change there views. We only hinder their expression and we need people to express freely that we may understand or know their nature. When they cannot do so, then we cannot identify them and learn to deal with them. It is even more dangerous. Likewise, we are free to voice our objections and let people hear our side.

The situation is different when they act upon their beliefs in a harmful way, such as coercion and violence.
Mac Callister said…
i like this ad im glad may mga ganun sila.nagiging insult na nga kasi na kapag gay ka,there's something wrong with u.
Empress Maruja said…
I read a related article where the author asked his friend who commented "That's so gay" over another person's sweater on Facebook. The author asked why the friend used that expression. The friend replied:

"Because the sweater is hideous and ugly."

Associating "gay" with "hideous and ugly" is subliminal homophobia. Huwag nating hayaang gamitin ang ating identity bilang insulto. Hindi ito right to hate o freedom of expression. You can say "That sweater is hideous," but definitely not "That's so gay."
extasiege said…
I knew I can count on you gay folks to bring on the drama.

Saying "That's sooo gay" isn't an insult particularly targeting your community. It's like when my sisters decide against a purse because it's "too girly".

And may point naman talaga ang counter-arguments eh. The only way to deal with too much free speech is more free speech. Imagine, kung ipagbabawal ang pagsabi ng "that's sooo gay" dahil it's degrading, para mo na ring sinabing dapat pagbawalan ang mga taong maghayag ng criticism of Islamic views, of Catholic dogmas, Christian biases dahil nakakaoffend sila ng mga communities. The only way para maging legit ang karapatan natin na maniwala sa mga bagay ay ang pagtanggap na may karapatan din ang ibang taong maniwala na mali ang ating pinaniniwalaan.

Sana, maging critical tayo bago tayo sumawsaw sa issues. Wag nating gawing controversial ang mga bagay bagay dahil lang uso.
goddess said…
para ring tong pag tinanong ka kung bakit ka naging bakla. hello? tinatanong ba bakit ka naging lalaki?..

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