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March 24, 2013 12:04 PM   Subscribe

Ash Beckham at Ignite Boulder: why you shouldn't say "that's so gay."
posted by Wordwoman (24 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
excellent.
posted by sweetkid at 12:17 PM on March 24, 2013


It's nothing short of weltschmerz that we can have these refined concepts of tolerance and acceptance and talk about them at activist events attended by hundreds and thousands, but at the end of the day even Ash Beckham has to bite her tongue and glower.

Talking is therapeutic, but as a side effect we have evolved these complicated talk-communities, mostly online, that are part echo chambers and part symbiotic collectives, where talking about something becomes identical to doing something about it. They aren't unrelated, but they sure as hell aren't identical.

And they drift farther and farther apart the longer we keep silent and bite our tongues and use evasive maneuvers in public, only to go back to building social justice cloud castles in our refined online playworlds. Because in the end, the goal is to be out there in the real world, to make it ours, to exercise rights and live lives in it, not to bud off a hypothetical simulacrum. Theory is great, but our lives are the application. And it's really really unfortunate that low-level practice lags so far behind theory.

And it's not just about LGBT issues, not by a longshot: it's about things like school bullying, and gender issues, and wage inequality, and ageism, and many, many other Big Social Issues. We have vast theoretic apparatus to talking about these issues. But it's a bad day when the wisest thing for any one individual living out his or her daily life to do is "keep your head down and keep your nose clean." Playing nice is a roadblock, not the goal.
posted by Nomyte at 12:57 PM on March 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


I read this as "Ask Beckham," and expected to see the soccer player. Maybe they could trade jobs for the day.
posted by jonmc at 12:59 PM on March 24, 2013


Dear Ask Beckham: I'm having a tough time at work--my boss is a jerk, but I can't quit because of my huge student loans. Signed, Feeling Trapped.

Dear Feeling Trapped: Have you tried being a wealthy professional athlete married to a beautiful celebrity? It worked great for me! Ta, Becks.

posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:03 PM on March 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


When did this start? I'm 32 and I don't remember hearing the word gay used as a synonym for stupid when I was younger (I remember the prevalent phrase being "that's so retarded"). However, since I decided to go back to school I hear my classmates use it all the time. I asked a few times why they thought using the word in that manner was appropriate. I never got a good answer beyond that I was out of touch and didn't understand that they didn't mean it that way and telling me it was okay because their gay friends say it, too.
posted by MaritaCov at 3:28 PM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


When did this start? I'm 32 and I don't remember hearing the word gay used as a synonym for stupid when I was younger

I'm 32, in Australia, I recall this and recall using it myself as a child.
posted by smoke at 3:38 PM on March 24, 2013


Also 32*, in the UK. While it was around here when I was a child, I think it really hit its idiotic stride in the late 90s/early 2000s. There is a definite tendency for people who are not conscious homophobes, even to the extent of being strongly supportive of gay rights, to use "so gay" in a manner that they regard as non-homophobic. They're wrong, of course, but their existence is a major reason why this video is relevant.

*Can we start a club?
posted by howfar at 3:52 PM on March 24, 2013


First time I heard it and it obviously meant "lame" was the 2003 episode of Southpark, Earth! Canelled! — but I imagine that that show did it before that as well.

Alien: No, not really. I just read your mind and thought this form might be more pleasing to you.
Kyle: Aw dude, don't do that. That's gay.


And it annoys me a lot that one of my favourite bands of late use that in a song: Fucking Werewolf Asso - Keep my adresse to yourself cause we need secrets

i got to go to someplace far away. usa.
there i'll stay til the end of days.
"-i will always be around" just sound so gay.
i will always be the same one.
always try to blame one.
time for me to go.


It's rather nonsense lyrics, I just wish they'd use some other nonsense. Guess I'll just post the excellent video onto their Facebook wall…
posted by monocultured at 4:07 PM on March 24, 2013


When did this start?

I'm 41 and was annoyed at how frequently my younger sibling, who was in fact gay (*), used it in a derogatory way.


(*) and now isn't, through the magic of actually being trans instead.
posted by Foosnark at 4:45 PM on March 24, 2013


I just turned 35 and heard "that's so gay" a ton growing up. Its height was probably sixth grade or so.
posted by sweetkid at 4:45 PM on March 24, 2013


Huh. I guess I just wasn't paying enough attention or it wasn't a thing in my school.
posted by MaritaCov at 5:08 PM on March 24, 2013


"It takes the Village People."
posted by ...possums at 5:25 PM on March 24, 2013


We had a very troubling day a couple of weeks back when my wife stumbled on Katy Perry's Ur So Gay, trouble stemming from my 9-year-olds slavish devotion to all things Perry. I was almost more disturbed by the reference to MySpace, but the Ms. wanted my daughter to stop listening to Katy Perry because of that song. We ended up having an awkward talk with our daughter about what was wrong with the song, and how she was using the word to be mean, and that wasn't okay, but we decided we'd still let her listen to Firework, which she likes much better anyway. I'm still stunned at Perry's insensitivity though. I've never heard her discuss the song but I think she has some 'splainin' to do.
posted by Toekneesan at 5:28 PM on March 24, 2013


What a great speaker. She should run for office! And so should Becks. Love that guy.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:02 PM on March 24, 2013


First time I heard it and it obviously meant "lame"...

What do you have against the handicapable?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:08 PM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm also in my thirties, Canadian, and never heard gay used as a generic derogatory term until I was well into my 20s. I heard homophobic slurs, but never "gay" as a generic slur.

It may be a result of LGBT visibility. It's awesome how much more visibility there is, but it also means that there has been a great deal of backlash. When I was a kid, no one was gay because most didn't think of it - you were a loser.

I was reading the collection of pieces from the "It gets better project", and in the intro Dan Savage notes that this is the best time to be a LGBT teen, but also a terrible time. Some people are accepting, but others aren't and you can't fly under the radar the way that people could before.

Using gay as a slur really, really bothers me - and we've had one family blow up over it. It is one thing for LGBT people to use it; white people don't get to use the N-word either. That said, I've never heard it used by anyone gay to mean "lame". I've only heard it in reference to gay-stereotypes (eg. saying X thing is "so gay" bc it fits a stereotype).
posted by jb at 7:20 PM on March 24, 2013


Yeah, and I realise I'm a hypocrite for using "lame". I could say, that's not what I was thinking, but it's still a slur.

I'm going to try to replace it with "pathetic" in my vocabulary. Tragic playwrights can come beat me up.
posted by jb at 7:22 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I did, however, briefly consider adopting "That's so Australian" as a slur (the nationality of the said relatives). They didn't get the analogy.
posted by jb at 7:26 PM on March 24, 2013


I never got a good answer beyond that I was out of touch and didn't understand that they didn't mean it that way and telling me it was okay because their gay friends say it, too.

I don't remember people talking about gay anything when I was growing up, but at one point I ragged on a boyfriend of mine (my freaking age) for doing it. "Uh, what about that was homosexual?" I said.

"But...but...it's so GAY," he said. Yeah, same experience: can't explain it, they just say it. Guh.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:26 PM on March 24, 2013


jb: "I'm also in my thirties, Canadian, and never heard gay used as a generic derogatory term until I was well into my 20s. I heard homophobic slurs, but never "gay" as a generic slur. "

Canadian, 41. My anecdotal experience is gay as a generic derogatory in real life exchanges is pretty well limited to use by people under ~25. I essentially never hear older people use it that way even if they otherwise will swear up a storm.
posted by Mitheral at 10:12 PM on March 24, 2013


It's pretty clear to me that "gay" in the sense "useless, weak, pathetic" appeared early in the Reagan Administration. I first heard it used by various people I thought of as Reagan Youth so I assumed it was newly empowered, juvie neo-cons showing their muscle by being politically incorrect and nothing I've learned has taught me different. I assume it's just casual hate speech.

What really annoys me is that if you call people on it, they'll say it's an unrelated word to the word "gay" meaning "homosexual". As I point out, there simply isn't another non-technical word for "homosexual" (particularly "male homosexual") than "gay".
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:15 AM on March 25, 2013


>First time I heard it and it obviously meant "lame"...

What do you have against the handicapable?


Heh, touché.
posted by monocultured at 1:43 AM on March 25, 2013


First time I heard it and it obviously meant "lame"...

That's dumb.
posted by dhartung at 2:32 AM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


High school in the 80s. Heard it a lot then.

When my otherwise tolerant millennial students use it unthinkingly, we always talk about why it's a pejorative. Most never have given if any thought.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 2:47 AM on March 25, 2013


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