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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2012 12:49 
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Before I begin, I just want to state that I am accept homosexuality as something that just simply exists. It's a non-issue for me. I would react the same whether someone was trying to argue for or against heterosexuality as I would homosexuality. I don't know why everybody is so concerned about which sex another person is attracted too. It seems neanderthalic (I think I made that word up) to me.

I think that this is just people being oversensitive. Homosexuality, which was considered a MENTAL ILLNESS according to the American Psychiatric Association until 1973 and was defined as such in the DSM-IV, has come a long way in this generation. It has gone from being seen as something disgusting to something that is generally accepted, and at this rate, will become as accepted as heterosexuality is. These disrespectful words aren't usually meant literally. I am very open and accepting to homosexual individuals and have many gay friends, and I still use these words, even around them. If one of my friends is moping around and I say "Stop being so gay" or "Don't be a fag, dude", I'm not saying that "his current actions and general demeanor is that of a homosexual person which is wrong", which is what a literal translation would suggest; I am telling him to "Stop being a downer" and trying to encourage him to look at his situation and realize that he's moping around. I'm not ignorant nor disrespectful when I use these phrases. I am fully aware of what I am saying, and I am also fully aware of how it will impact the individual who I am saying it to. I also understand that some people, homo or heterosexual, find these phrases extremely disrespectful. I'm not going to tell them "F-you, I'm going to say them anyway", I'll watch my words and use caution with my vocabulary choice.

Using the word "gay" in this sense has been happening LONG before there was controversy about homosexuality. I'm talking about when homosexuality was considered wrong. Some people don't accept it to this day, but it is no longer considered wrong. The thing that gets me about people being overly sensitive about homosexual related terms, is that they don't give a second thought about other offense words that they undoubtedly use all the time. I'll close this with examples of exactly what I mean and definitions pulled from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. I will put a common sentence, the literal definition of the offensive word, and finally the definition of what the word is intended as.

"What are you, dumb?"
Dumb: 1 b. lacking the ability to speak
6 a. lacking intelligence : STUPID
This could be seen as offensive to mute individuals.

"You deaf or something?"
Deaf: 1. lacking or deficient in the sense of hearing.
This is obvious. An example that is close to home for me is my brother. He requires the use of hearing aids in both his ears. Although he is hard of hearing, he is extremely upset when people call him deaf.

"What are you blind, or something? It's right there!"
Blind: 1 b. of or relating to sightless persons.
This is another obvious one. I'm certain, through personal discussions, that many blind people become very self-conscious and aware of their disability when they hear an individual call another "Blind".

I am going to list an array of definitions, ALL still from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, for this word:
"What are you gay?"
Gay: 1 a. Happily excited
b. keenly alive and exuberant
2 a. Bright, Lively
b. brilliant in color
4 a. Homosexual
Wikipedia states that "a new, pejorative use became prevalent in some parts of the world. In the Anglosphere, this connotation, among younger speakers, has a derisive meaning equivalent to rubbish or stupid (as in "That's so gay."). In this use, the word does not mean "homosexual", so it can be used, for example, to refer to an inanimate object or abstract concept of which one disapproves. This usage can also refer to weakness or unmanliness."


The point of this rant is the following:
Anybody who says that calling somebody "gay" as a synonym for "stupid" is wrong because that means that you are saying being gay is stupid, but they themselves call other people dumb or blind, is a complete hypocrite. Any word can have its definition twisted, and it hardly matters what word you use, rather the tone and context in which you use it. If my computer crashes and I tell somebody "My computer's being gay, it keeps crashing", I do not mean that because my computer keeps crashing, that I now consider it to be homosexual. I mean that my computer is a piece of shit. Which in turn DOES NOT mean that I think anybody who is gay is a piece of shit.


I look forward to a debate on this thread if anybody has an opposition and would like to state it. Rant concluded.


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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2012 12:56 
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It's easy to sit back as a heterosexual white middle class male and scoff at people who get offended at words like that, but it really is damaging when a word that, in some very limited contexts applies to you, also, in all other contexts, is used negatively. Just think if the word "Travis" meant something negative when it wasn't used as a name. "That's pretty fucking travis, you stupid little bitch." or "Stop being such a travis little fucktard." I'd say after 20 or so years of this (because, to be fair, most people who actually get offended at the use of the word "gay" are out of high school and have matured enough in the real world to actually understand the power of social hierarchies and systems of dominance), it would really start to wear on you. "But dude, it's just a word!" "No, it's my fucking name, and I'm tired of having it associated with every negative quality in humanity."


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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2012 14:38 
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I agree with both people here. The term "gay" is one that almost has to stand on its own without examples from other words. There are even homosexual people that really hate the word gay at all to define them. Some proudly express they are gay. When there is such a divide amongst the community it seems to represent in our society I personally find it hard to take ANYONE serious that gets upset with the term being used in other ways. It is quite commonly accepted that "you are a fag" is just another way of calling someone an asshole or a toolbag. The definition behind fag isn't what is meant, but just that you are being called a word that is considered negative. If I call you a poopyhead I don't mean you walk around with turds for hair, I just mean you are a mean person.

With this being said I think its good to be aware of where you are, who you are around, and what you say. If you know someone is offended by this use, even if you don't agree it should be accepted that you will use different language. I once got into an argument with a girl about the use of the word retard. She got upset because her sister was retarded. I told her that was ridiculous because I wasn't saying this person is like her sister. I was literally saying their actions were on pair with intelligence of someone that would be considered retarded. Now, to act like people who are retarded are on the same level of intelligence as people that are not is silly to think. I don't degrade or put down people that are challenged, but I acknowledge the difference. She was offended by the proper usage of the word retarded. This is a perfect example of ignorance clouding judgement. I actually went a step too far probably and made sure to use the word retarded around this girl as much as possible. I did this entirely to show her how stupid she was being. It was immature on my part, but my point changed none the less.

Now I can see how something like that can bother someone greatly, and while I feel they are completely moronic and pathetic for allowing it to bother them, I respect their emotions and try not to create those situations now. I just personally feel its dumb to allow simple words to affect you so much. I grew up being called cracker and honkey. Stupid white boy was something I heard a lot. What do I care if someone thinks I am stupid for being white. They are the lowest level of intelligence to claim my stupidity for genetics deciding to give me this color of skin. Eh, I don't claim to be completely right on this subject, this is just how I feel.


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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2012 16:12 
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The difference with "gay" as opposed to "poopyhead" or "retarded" is that the latter two actually have some thin sliver of relation. If you call somebody "retarded" because they are acting stupid, it's because people who are legitimately retarded act stupid. You are comparing them to actual mentally handicapped people because their behaviour is somewhat similar. Likewise, if you call somebody a poopyhead as a negative epithet, it's because having poop for hair would be a negative attribute.

It's different with the word gay. You are using the word in one context to refer to very negative qualities. In other context, you are using it refer to a neutral characteristic (sexual orientation). This is problematic in two ways: First, it's an abuse to the english language to try to pretend that the meanings are actually not at all related. You can't have the same word in the same namespace mean two completely unrelated things. The other problem is that, at least subconsciously but sometimes even consciously, the word "gay" in the context of sexuality also becomes associated with the negative characteristics of things or situations being "gay" . Try as hard as you want, but at least subconsciously for the majority of people, if somebody came up to them and said "I'm gay" it would be extremely hard to suppress all the negativity attached to that word after years and years of hearing people refer to bad situations or objects as "gay". Thus, having a particular sexual orientation becomes associated negatively in an obscene number of peoples' minds, all because of that subconscious connection caused by the abuse of the language.


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PostPosted: 05 Jan 2012 09:10 
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I agree with some of what you said Anubis; but, if somebody came up to another person and said "i'm gay", it wouldn't be the negative reference of the word "gay" that would associate the person being gay with something bad, it would be the fact that FOREVER, up until around now, it has been WRONG to be gay. Don't get me wrong, like I said above, I completely accept homosexual individuals and will show complete respect to them assuming they show complete respect to me being heterosexual. If a gay friend of mine starts hitting on me with complete knowledge that I am straight, I would be extremely disrespected by that. However, if a random gay person starts hitting on me, I would simply inform them that I'm not gay and would take it as a compliment that a random gay guy thinks I'm good looking.

Anyway, back to my point. It has been considered wrong and disgusting to be homosexual until very recently. So if somebody said "I'm gay", it wouldn't be considered wrong because the word "gay" was used negatively, but because homosexuality was considered disgusting. We all have to remember that the world of today is something very new, in regards to society's views. It makes sense to us that everybody should get treated the same, end of story. This isn't how it works though. In respect to the length of civilizations, women's right's are a new concept just as homosexual rights are a new concept as well. The negativity behind homosexuality has nothing to do with the use of the word "gay". The word "gay" was originally a word meaning happiness. As I stated in my previous post, the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary describes "gay" as "Gay: 1 a. Happily excited b. keenly alive and exuberant 2 a. Bright, Lively b. brilliant in color." None of these definitions seem negative to me at all. This was the definition that the word was created for, nothing relating to homosexuality. Then the word became something negative, with reference to what this is all about. "My computer is being gay". There isn't necessarily a definition that I know of to describe this, but it is used in a negative sense. Then, the word "gay" was used in reference to homosexual people. This leads me to conclude that if I was to call somebody or something "gay", I would not be subconsciously associating homosexuality with something bad; However, the person who began using the word "gay" to describe homosexual individuals would have been making this connection.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter what word is used to describe a homosexual individual, the word is still being used to segregate them from being "normal" and is the reason why this is being used. Calling a homosexual person "gay" is saying that they are less then anybody else. It is not simply differentiating somebody between being "gay" or "straight", it is defining them as a person. It doesn't matter if that is the intention, it is a stereotypical word and it is clear that it is also a loaded word. Comparably, If I could not speak, I would not want to be called "dumb" because of the negative association, I would MUCH rather be called "mute". A homosexual person is exactly that, a person who is attracted to the same sex. To me, homosexual people aren't "gay", they just simply have a different sexuality then myself.


NOTE: I hope nobody is taking this as argumentative, but rather, more of an expository discussion, so to speak.


Last edited by Traviesaurus on 05 Jan 2012 09:15, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 05 Jan 2012 09:14 
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You can't have the same word in the same namespace mean two completely unrelated things.
Here is a short list of words with two meanings but are spelled the same (homographs), that I've found by searching google:
  • agape – with mouth open OR love
    bass – type of fish OR low, deep voice
    bat - piece of sports equipment OR an animal
    bow – type of knot OR to incline
    down – a lower place OR soft fluff on a bird
    entrance – the way in OR to delight
    evening – smoothing out OR after sunset
    fine – of good quality OR a levy
    learned – past tense of learn OR knowledgeable
    minute – tiny OR unit of time
    moped – was gloomy OR motorcyle
    number – more numb OR numerical value
    row – line OR argument OR propel a boat
    sewer – drain OR person who sews
    wave – move the hand in greeting OR sea water coming into shore
    wound – past tense of wind OR to injure


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PostPosted: 05 Jan 2012 12:06 
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I agree with some of what you said Anubis; but, if somebody came up to another person and said "i'm gay", it wouldn't be the negative reference of the word "gay" that would associate the person being gay with something bad, it would be the fact that FOREVER, up until around now, it has been WRONG to be gay.
But it's just soooo much harder to get rid of that stigma when that word keeps being used as a negative epithet.
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If a gay friend of mine starts hitting on me with complete knowledge that I am straight, I would be extremely disrespected by that.
Equally disrespected if a woman started hitting on you knowing you had a girlfriend?
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We all have to remember that the world of today is something very new, in regards to society's views.
Exactly. So we really need to think about if our current usage of words is stunting our cultural growth or is helping them shape into a more friendly and safe manifestation. Continuing to use the word "gay" negatively is an attempt (subconscious though it may be) to retain that negative stigmatization with actually being gay. It's how culture (which is manifested through language) is attempting to say "I really don't like how gay is starting to be acceptable", so it appropriates that word to other unacceptable or negative things in an attempt to keep that stigma.
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Then the word became something negative, with reference to what this is all about. "My computer is being gay". There isn't necessarily a definition that I know of to describe this, but it is used in a negative sense.
The word became negative in the 1600s when the Catholic church decided that being happy was a bad thing, that everybody should be somber and quiet all the time. Then in the 1800s, it started being used to refer to homosexual people, because they tended to be more open about sexuality and more "happy" with it than a typical repressed church-goer. It was only in recent decades, when being "gay" suddenly started to not be such a big deal, that word was appropriated to mean "stupid" or "lame" or "negative". It's very clear that the negative connotations in today's language is specifically designed (that doesn't mean intelligently or consciously designed) to keep that negativity with the sexual orientation.
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Calling a homosexual person "gay" is saying that they are less then anybody else.
How? Not allowing them to define their sexuality as different from the majority with the commonly accepted word would be saying they are less than anybody else, since it's a really a HUGE distinction once you reach adult hood and you're looking for a stable family, and you, as a straight male sitting around telling them what word they're allowed to use as a definition is really the height of priviledge/cultural dominance. The fact is, "gay" was appropriated to sexuality LOOOOONG before it was appropriated as a slang word for "stupid" or "negative". It's not up to you to decide that they need to pick a different word.


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PostPosted: 05 Jan 2012 14:17 
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How? Not allowing them to define their sexuality as different from the majority with the commonly accepted word would be saying they are less than anybody else, since it's a really a HUGE distinction once you reach adult hood and you're looking for a stable family, and you, as a straight male sitting around telling them what word they're allowed to use as a definition is really the height of priviledge/cultural dominance. The fact is, "gay" was appropriated to sexuality LOOOOONG before it was appropriated as a slang word for "stupid" or "negative". It's not up to you to decide that they need to pick a different word.
I didn't mean that they need to pick a different word. That's quite the opposite of what I meant. It doesn't matter what word is used to describe somebody who is homosexual, it will probably always have a derogatory meaning to it. Just like any word that is used to describe some sort of population.

Imagine a world where being straight is weird. Essentially the opposite of how the world currently views sexuality. If I wanted to tell people that I'm straight, that's my choice. But if other people look at me differently for being straight, that's not okay. Homosexual people should have the choice to use whatever word they want to use. But if straight people begin to use it to define homosexual people, it will quickly become a negative word.

People are people. I don't understand the NECESSITY to differentiate yourself from the general population. It seems like a thing self-conscious people do to feel different. I know that I'm different, I'm not just another slave of society. I don't need to have a distinction that I can show off to the world to PROVE that I'm different. Which is why I don't understand why homosexuality is so publicized. I get that it's not accepted by many. To me it's like, I'm straight. There's nothing anybody can do about that. It will not change, nobody can change that. Some people are homosexual. Nobody can change that. It seems to me that a lot of the, for lack of a better word, drama between the hetero and homosexual communities is due to the entire population trying to hold onto their pride, which doesn't really make sense. The homosexual community is saying we need to be equal, which I agree with, and the church, like you said, is basically saying "No, our old ways are right. Rules are rules and they were put into place for a reason."

Maybe my thinking is insensitive, but I don't care if somebody is homosexual or heterosexual. I don't care if your skin is black, white, brown, or any other color under the sun. I don't understand why any of it matters. I thought humans were much more evolved then that; to keep things the way they are just because that's the way they've been? I think social stigma's are archaic in the worst way.

I am 100% for equal rights. But I feel like we are making distinctions that don't need to be made. Like I showed in my previous post, there are words that have multiple meanings. I think that there is nothing wrong with using the word "gay" as a reference to homosexuality and using it as a completely different word with a separate reference to something negative. It does not mean that I think homosexuality as something that is negative.

Quote:
Equally disrespected if a woman started hitting on you knowing you had a girlfriend?
Yes. I'm one of those guys that, when I'm with a woman, only has eyes for my woman. If a random girl hit on me, it's a compliment. If somebody knows I have a girlfriend and they do it anyway, I take that very disrespectfully.


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PostPosted: 05 Jan 2012 15:46 
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It doesn't matter what word is used to describe somebody who is homosexual, it will probably always have a derogatory meaning to it.
I disagree. If people made a conscious effort not to use whatever word it was in a derogatory meaning instead of brushing it off as "sensitivity" it would begin to lose its derogatory meaning and start to be a simple, neutral adjective to describe sexual orientation.
Quote:
I don't understand the NECESSITY to differentiate yourself from the general population.
So that when guys hit on you you have a means of describing why you're not interested. You certainly don't need to differentiate yourself in many places (like you wouldn't just randomly tell a fast food worker taking your order "hey, by the way, I'm straight"), but that doesn't mean it's NEVER a good idea to differentiate. Glossing over or ignoring the differences is just as bad (IMO) as persecuting people for their differences.
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Homosexual people should have the choice to use whatever word they want to use. But if straight people begin to use it to define homosexual people, it will quickly become a negative word.
That's not what happened. Straight people used it to define negative things, like a "gay" computer or a person being "gay" because they are bad at a video game. That's what quickly caused it to become a negative word, at least in this generation.
Quote:
Yes. I'm one of those guys that, when I'm with a woman, only has eyes for my woman. If a random girl hit on me, it's a compliment. If somebody knows I have a girlfriend and they do it anyway, I take that very disrespectfully.
Well that's good. Some people will be really hypocritical about it and find it "flattering" that a girl is hitting on them but "extremely disrespectful" that a gay guy is hitting on them.


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PostPosted: 05 Jan 2012 23:08 
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Sigh. Yea. People can be so gay. I should know. I go to high school


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PostPosted: 06 Jan 2012 20:23 
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I personally think that most people of reasonable intelligence can differentiate between the two uses of the word. When I say "this is gay" I mean its out of the ordinary or sometimes I do mean it negatively, but to me its a play on the negativity the word has drawn from society. I am not saying this is negative therefor being gay is negative. However, at one time a large portion of the population felt this way and it was an accepted way of thinking, I am merely making reference to that. I know this probably sounds silly but words are all about context to me.


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PostPosted: 06 Jan 2012 22:38 
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Quote:
I personally think that most people of reasonable intelligence can differentiate between the two uses of the word. When I say "this is gay" I mean its out of the ordinary or sometimes I do mean it negatively, but to me its a play on the negativity the word has drawn from society. I am not saying this is negative therefor being gay is negative. However, at one time a large portion of the population felt this way and it was an accepted way of thinking, I am merely making reference to that. I know this probably sounds silly but words are all about context to me.
Agreed, couldn't have said it better myself!


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PostPosted: 06 Jan 2012 23:12 
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It's not about consciously telling yourself "I know there's a difference, even if other people don't." It's about the subconscious power plays and systems of oppression that it solidifies.


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