when did homophobia become fashionable again?

When I was in fifth grade, my school put on a play called Sky Happy. It was a musical written specifically to commemorate Vancouver’s 100th year in existence. I was not into it, so I complained to what I assumed would be a sympathetic ear.

“Daaaad,” I whined to my father, “I have to make a puppet that sings! That’s so gay.” Instantly he sat up straight and got serious. “Ellen,” he said. “Do you know what that means?”

“Yes,” I said exasperated. “It doesn’t mean that. It just means it’s stupid.”

Well, according to my dad it did mean that and the way I was talking made it sound like the play wasn’t the only thing I thought was stupid.

One miserable lecture later, I felt humiliated and pretty pissed at my dad. But I also felt weird about saying, "That’s so gay." Though I didn’t tell my dad, I took it out of my vocabulary.

I can’t say that all the kids I know have taken the same action. I hear words like "gay" and "homo" casually tossed around disparagingly by people who would never use the color of one’s skin or a person’s religion as an insult. So what gives? How is it still acceptable to equate being gay with something stupid, uncool or embarrassing?

Obviously, not everyone uses this phrase. But the fact that I encounter it so often, and by such diverse groups of kids, just reminds me that a lot of people are casually homophobic and don’t fully acknowledge the impact of their language.

Not everyone has a dad who will call them out. But, the more of us that take on the call out role, the less we’ll hear "That’s so gay" used as a put down.

Out of curiosity, what do you think about saying, “That’s so gay?” Do you say it? Do people you know?

This entry was posted in Health, Sex & Relationships, The State of Sex Ed.
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  • I’m lesbian and I never use the word gay like that, but all my friends do. They call me a PC loser if I say anything. Come to think of it, I guess they’re not really my friends.

  • Emma

    I'm bisexual, and I STILL use the word 'gay' frequently. Why? Because I just DON'T associate it with that. Maybe some people do, but I sure as hell don't. I wonder why this is? I'm guessing I heard people use it in the 90's and got used to it- before I even knew what gay meant. In any case, to some people it's hurtful, to others it's not- I'm not offended by it, I don't see it as offensive, but I'm not above using it only around people who are comfortable with it. If it offends you, I won't say it- but close friends? Why not! They know I love women too, it's all just for fun, not slander.

  • ari

    I used to say stuff like that. But when I thought about it, I didn't feel it was right. I mean, I myself am bisexual (which I consider to be gay) and I don't like when people put me down by saying stuff like that. So I obviously stopped. I get really upset when people I'm friends w/ say it, so when I'm w/ them, I simply ask them not to say it in front of me. But it's really difficult when you're at school and you hear, literally, dozens of times a day "You're gay" or something of the sort. I can't just tell everyone I overhear to not say that, it just won't work.
    But I just keep telling myself that people are just ignorant.
    Instead of saying "gay" I now use the term "straight."
    (ie: That's so straight!!)

  • Midori

    Last year (5th grade) the guys were always throwing gay around like confetti (and it didnt mean homo or happy) that the teacher got so fed up of it she made anyone who said "That's so gay!" (or a variation thereof) or Stop being gay!" etc. etc. write.
    Also my cousin once lived with someone who was a homo and got very offended when gay gets tossed around, so he doesn't say it, and, being out of university and oldest (besides parents) scolds us all when we say it.

  • leah

    Saying something is "gay" or calling someone a "homo" or "fag" is completely offensive. What is happening is that you are saying that being homosexual is something that is wrong, or disgusting, or embarrassing. Which is isn't. It's normal, and it's a way of life. And it's also not ok to say if you are homosexual yourself, because it teaches other people that its fine to call other people gay.
    So, act intelligent. Stop using the word "gay" in a derogatory way.

  • felix

    i say things like "hey homo" or "sup faggot" to my friends all the time thats just the way i am. all of my friends know thats its not ment to be insulting. but i feel that i can make as many gay jokes as i want being bi myself

  • Deanna

    I think it's okay to say, "that's so gay" as long as your not relating the meaning of stupid to homosexuality. While saying something is homo and meaning it's stupid is 1) is grammatically incorrect 2) degrading homosexuality. But I don't see the difference in creating a new meaning for the word "Gay" when the homosexuals did it. I say that if it's not okay to create a new meaning for the word, then it shouldn't have been okay to change it's meaning from happy, to homosexuality.

  • Amanda

    I feel like "That's so gay," should not be used, but I don't correct anyone. Maybe I'll start. Some people I know who aren't homophobic use it, and it seems kind of awkward.

  • maddie

    😛 whenever i hear somebody say "That's soooo gay," or "don't be such a homo" or whatever it reminds me of the fall out boy song G.I.N.A.S.F.S.

  • mia

    I go to an arts school and the people there tolerate others better then regular schools, just because everyone's so different. Not as many people use the term gay of of context because they know that someone will say something about it I guess. Usually if someone around me says that's gay, I reply "Gay can not be used as an insult" OR "Gay is not a synonym for stupid".
    I went to as GSA meeting and they were talking about teaching the sixth graders (my school has middle school and highschool, I'm a freshman) about tolerating others. One of the things mentioned that many people agreed on was teaching them the word gay could not be used as an insult. Then we went into a discussion about teaching the sixth graders that words like this are harmful and hurtful.
    Using the word gay out of context might not hurt every homosexual person, but it does affect some. And the main thing is that, it doesn't even make any sense. So why say words like this out of context anyway? It's not cool.

  • -Jess

    I'm bi and i pay no attention to it i mean if some one wants to use it the wrong way let them cause
    gay = happy
    queer = strange or unusual
    homo sex.= same gender
    bi sex. = both
    hetro = opposite
    (look them up if you don't know already)
    but like any one would every say that's so bi or that's hetro my girl friend says it a lot but i always try to make her correct herself by saying "you cant say much" because of her being bi also

  • Devan

    I get a little insulted when people (i.e. immature teenage boys) use the word gay or homo to insult something. Some of my closest friends are gay, and I'm a member of my school's GSA, and it ticks me off to hear it thrown about so casually. Besides, when you think about it, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. "Oh, that song is so gay." What does that mean? That song likes other songs?
    Somehow, my dad got into the habit of saying things are gay, or saying "What a homo," when, for example, he sees a feminine guy on TV. I know for a fact my dad is very accepting of all people, gay, straight, or bi, so I'm not sure why he does this. I tried to ask him once to stop, because I found it insulting, and he said he would, but he forgot soon after. I've given up on trying to stop people from saying things are gay, because I know it won't get me anywhere, but I still cringe inwardly whenever I hear the words "That's so gay."

  • ashley

    not only do I hear people say 'yo, that gay' when they're complimenting someone, for a girl compliments another girl and says her top is sexy, they'll say 'oh no homo' just to make it seem like saying 'oh im not gay and just cause i said something that might sound gay, doesn't mean im gay' which is tres stupide.