The word “gay” is a tricky one.
At its root, and originally, it means to be happy.
The most-common usage has morphed to refer to someone who is homosexual.
Now, among the youth of today, “gay” has transformed again into a term used to describe something “cheesy” or “crusty” or, in other words, “not cool.” In actuality, it has very little to do with being happy or being homosexual.
An example: “Damn, dude, that mammoth cell phone from 1998 is sooo gay.”
This causes problems.
Firstly, gay people might think it’s an insult to them. In the rare cases I use it in that sense, I’m not thinking of it that way, and I’m known as someone here in the Bible Belt who not only is tolerant of the lifestyle, but is quite fond of gay people and the specific role in society they play.
Which leads to another problem: Who is gay? Are lesbians gay? Or are they simply “lesbians” and men are “gay men?”
“Lesbian” … sounds like some kind fierce creature found in the wild (“watch as the male lesbian hunts his prey”).
“Homosexual” … too medical/scientific.
“Gay” … just too complicated.
Is there any kind of dignified name we can just all agree on?
I’d like to … for my gay friends.
Well, Eric, you’ve got me stumped on that one. And I have to admit it’s only in recent years that I’ve accepted homosexuals completely for who they are and realised that they aren’t going to gang rape me or anything nasty; they’re just human like the rest of us. I had mixed feelings about it before.
Of the gay people I know, both men and women, they don’t mind being called poofs and lessers (pronounced lezzerz) respectively although these were once considered deragotory. It’s like how overused words lose the intensity of their meaning.
Moreover, the gay men I know have often said to me that they’ve been called ‘Uphill Gardeners’ for so long that they just find it funny that nobody can be more original in their attempts at insult. And anybody who prefers not to be embarassed won’t even think about calling the British Lesbian anything because they’ve heard it all before and know all the put downs and can turn things on you faster than a cobra can strike.
I don’t believe that there will ever be a dignified name we can all agree on. Like racism, homophobia is dwindling but there’s always going to be that part of society that won’t accept certain things.
It’d be interesting to know what readers think on this subject, especially those it concerns the most.