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View Diary: What I Wish All Straight People Knew (96 comments)

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  •  The word has been in use longer than that (8+ / 0-)

    though I have no citations on it.

    My point is that even if kids don't mean "homosexual" when they say "gay", they are still codifying the message that gay is unacceptable. Then they grow up to think things like "everyone knows gay people are fair game". We are not.

    And beyond that, children hearing those slurs who grow up and realize they are gay have internalized the shame.

    IMO, it has to stop, and it has to be us who stops it.  

    •  Correct (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Renee, sberel, Sportin Life

      It still sends the message that anything described as gay is undesirable.

      When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace. -Jimi Hendrix -6.0 -5.33

      by Cali Techie on Sat Jun 13, 2009 at 12:08:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Slang is always evolving, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and Wiki notes the viewpoint that, recently, the word has, with young people, perhaps taken on the connotation of "lame" rather than anything overtly sexual.  

      In modern English, gay has come to be used as an adjective, and occasionally as a noun, that refers to the people, practices, and culture associated with homosexuality. By the end of the 20th century the word gay was recommended by major style guides to describe people attracted to members of the same sex.[2][3] At about the same time, a new, pejorative use was visible in some parts of the world. In the UK, U.S., and Australia, this connotation, among younger generations of 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 that it can be used, for example, of an inanimate object or abstract concept of which one disapproves, but the extent to which it still retains connotations of homosexuality has been debated. [4][5]


      For a longer-term look at a very complicated etymology:

      OED gives 1951 as earliest date for slang meaning "homosexual" (adj.), but this is certainly too late; gey cat "homosexual boy" is attested in N. Erskine's 1933 dictionary of "Underworld & Prison Slang;" the term gey cat (gey is a Scot. variant of gay) was used as far back as 1893 in Amer.Eng. for "young hobo," one who is new on the road and usually in the company of an older tramp, with catamite connotations. But Josiah Flynt ["Tramping With Tramps," 1905] defines gay cat as, "An amateur tramp who works when his begging courage fails him." Gey cats also were said to be tramps who offered sexual services to women. The "Dictionary of American Slang" reports that gay (adj.) was used by homosexuals, among themselves, in this sense since at least 1920. Rawson ["Wicked Words"] notes a male prostitute using gay in reference to male homosexuals (but also to female prostitutes) in London's notorious Cleveland Street Scandal of 1889. Ayto ["20th Century Words"] calls attention to the ambiguous use of the word in the 1868 song "The Gay Young Clerk in the Dry Goods Store," by U.S. female impersonator Will S. Hays. The word gay in the 1890s had an overall tinge of promiscuity -- a gay house was a brothel. The suggestion of immorality in the word can be traced back to 1637. Gay as a noun meaning "a (usually male) homosexual" is attested from 1971.

      Beautiful diary, it's plain it comes from the heart and thank you for taking the time to create it.  

      I must admit that I sometimes get queasy when folks talk about "zero-tolerance" policies toward schoolkids.

      I think GLBT equality will not happen until we are all willing to talk to the kids and take a zero tolerance policy on playground name calling.

      There are a few (at least) unreasonable folks out there in the school systems, and one hears about the result of a zero tolerance for sex harassment being that little Johnny is sent home from kindergarten for giving little Suzie a hug.  Or a zero tolerance policy for drugs results in a girl being strip-searched to find an aspirin in her panties.  

      To the extent you say we should find the backbone to instruct kids who act inappropriately in any manner, I'm with you.  Kicking kids out for improper language goes too far.  We have to remember that kids will experiment endlessly with word usage, as the current prevalence of "that's so gay" shows.  Not long ago, they were saying "that's so retarded," which set the teeth of an entirely different group on edge.  It's far better than experimenting with drugs.

      •  What I meant by zero tolerance (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sberel, southriver

        was that adults need to address this stuff each time it happens with information about that fact that it's hurtful. I'm not all that big on any of the popular disciplinary measures. I think that so much can be accomplished by adults taking the responsibility to explain why they need whatever behavior. I think it's pretty easy to bust a kid and punish them, but it's not always effective. I homeschool though, so I'm not mainstream in that opinion.

        •  I agree completely. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Renee, sberel

          If I heard my kids or grandkids (or students, when I was a teacher) using "gay" in the "that's so lame" sense, my reaction would be to say that I know you're not using the word intending to disrespect anyone, but many people, including people you don't want to offend (like me) might take offense, and you really should think about better ways to say what you mean.

          That may or may not have any effect.  But I still recall when my 5th grade teacher took me aside to talk about my own foul-mouth habits at that time.  So I know it can have an effect.

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