‘That’s gay’

Posted: December 22, 2010 in Relationships, Sexuality
Tags: ,

Posting is really erratic at the moment here and probably will be for a while – I’m suffering a mild form of writer’s block and it’s also nearly Christmas, with all the attendant expected sociability. So apologies.

Trigger warning for homophobia.

The ubiquitous ‘that’s gay,’ thing that people tend to say all the time. Should we count it as homophobia? I’m always more inclined towards a diagnosis of heterosexism, but homophobia is definitely there – if not in the person saying it, in the culture that teaches that it’s an acceptable insult.

I don’t understand the ubiquity of it. I know from coming out experiences that most people I trust enough to come out to are tolerant; they are often cissexist, transphobic and binarist, but never homophobic (at least, not explicitly; homophobia and transphobia are extremely closely related). But they still say, ‘that song’s just gay,’ or ‘that sounded really gay,’ meaning ‘crap.’ If they don’t say gay, they say lame, which is just as bad; ableism as well! Yay! (unfortunately, I have been guilty of using ‘lame’ in the past – I fully recognise that it was ableist and an all-round shitty thing to do, and apologise to everyone who heard me say it.)

Why? Why say it? Well, it gets the point across. By now, it’s become such a cultural touchstone that everyone knows what you mean. It’s generally not regarded as a swearword, so you don’t have to watch your mouth around authority. But – but you’re still taking the identity of a large sector of the population and using it as code for ‘truly terrible, weak and indefensible.’ Or you’re using a word with a history of abuse to describe a difference in ability as code for same.

And I don’t see how that’s defensible. How that’s acceptable. How that’s all right.

Methods I use to combat it vary. I’m wary of nuking, since I don’t think I’m very good at it – last time I did it, over ‘t****y’, this happened – but pointing out that inanimate objects are incapable of having a sexual orientation is always a favourite. And occasionally, I remind people that I’m queer; when someone said, ‘you have a really gay cough,’ I said, ‘there might be a reason for that’. It seems to nonpluss them.

I just wish people would see on their own that it’s really not okay.

  1. Brittany-Ann says:

    Me too. Over and over. I get on my brother for saying it. He responds, “I have gay friends! They’re okay with it/they use it that way too!” Sigh.

    • JKBC says:

      Sigh. No-one’s ever tried that on me yet, but that must be very aggravating to deal with. If the gay friends really are okay with it, I don’t understand that either…

  2. megan says:

    as i know that alot if this blog is about me and what i said i would like to put out a puplic apology to anyone who read this and found it to offend them i am so sorry and i want you to know i am not homaphobic at all i am compleatly exepting of whatever it is that people are i think its great its just something that slipt out and im sorry !!!

    • JKBC says:

      Meg, most of it is not about you. Not even this particular post is about you. It’s about the generalised attitudes that are spouted by everyone, people I know and people I don’t. I know you don’t hate non-heterosexuals, but thank you for apologising anyway. You didn’t need to declare yourself publicly, we’ve already sorted this in private. I know you can eliminate it from your vocabulary.

  3. megan says:

    after our talk i thought we agreed that since back in the ld day gay mean happy and even if an ignorent sivilisation now uses it as offence i don

  4. megan says:


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