General Question

asmonet's avatar

Are you offended personally or otherwise by phrases like 'no homo'?

Asked by asmonet (21218 points ) February 16th, 2009

I’ve now seen three people on Fluther say this and it astounds me that it considered acceptable. ‘No Homo’ and ‘That’s Gay’ are just as offensive to me as racial slurs. What’s the deal, why aren’t those removed? It seems like straight up homophobia and I don’t think hate speech is something the guidelines would cover. I’ve seen some racial slurs in the context of an intellectual debate, but when you’re just tacking on ‘no homo’ or ‘that’s gay’ it’s not relevant in any way.

Do you think it’s an overreaction for me to be upset when I see them? Should they be removed?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

93 Answers

Mr_M's avatar

I can’t speak for “no homo”, but I KNOW “gay” means something entirely different nowadays (IN ADDITION to the old meaning). The new meaning has nothing to do with homosexuality. I heard some kids using it and found out, much to my surprise.

Jude's avatar

I don’t like it either.

tinyfaery's avatar

So what’s the new meaning of gay?

Of course it’s offensive.

emt333's avatar

ecce homo

Mr_M's avatar

@tiny, I was hoping no one would ask. I forget, to tell you the truth. It’s a negative remark, implying something that is lousy; something that’s crappy.

From Wiki:

“At about the same time, a new, pejorative use was visible in some parts of the world. In the UK, US and Australia, this connotation, among younger generations of speakers had a non-sexual derisive meaning equivalent to rubbish or stupid (as in “That’s so gay.”).”

StellarAirman's avatar

Yes I do think it’s an overreaction. Meanings of words change over time. Saying “that’s gay” is just the same as saying “that’s dumb” these days. I say it and I don’t think about it even relating to a gay person, it’s just something you say like “that’s stupid” or “cool”.

No homo is usually used when saying or doing something guy > guy and then clarifying that you don’t mean it in a homosexual way.

“Hey man, nice haircut. No homo.”

I could understand more how people would be offended by that, but don’t people have better things to do than be offended by words? They only have as much power as you give them after all.

tinyfaery's avatar

Exactly. It’s crappy because it’s associated with being gay, therefore it’s derogatory toward gay people. No third meaning of gay.

Jeruba's avatar

I’ve been trying to stamp out “gay” as a pejorative since I first heard my son using it that way in sixth grade (a long time ago now). He insisted that everyone said it, and I said I didn’t care who used it, I didn’t want to hear it from him. If you use “gay” to mean something bad or something you dislike or disapprove of, that is a statement to anyone who is gay.

That use still seems to be around. It does not belong in a forum that does not tolerate racist and sexist slurs.

I’ve never heard “no homo,” but if it’s the same type of thing, then out with it.

funkdaddy's avatar

Anything that’s just there to try and belittle someone should be removed. If you aren’t contributing to the conversation, it doesn’t have a place. I wish that was the measuring stick.

cwilbur's avatar

I’m not offended. Anything that helps me identify the idiots and morons in the world quickly is a major benefit.

miasmom's avatar

That’s the thing, words are powerful, I remember someone calling me 4 eyes in junior high and, you just don’t forget mean or derogatory words.

onesecondregrets's avatar

It depends on how serious the person uses it takes themself, and how serious you take yourself when concerning things like this. I think “no homo” is a bit different than “that’s gay” as the latter is an outward use of gay being derrogatory. “No homo” is a little different. A gay person could say “no hetero” if ever making a comment that would make them sound straight, know what I mean?

tinyfaery's avatar

I’d only use no hetero to be offensive. Why is it necessary to distinguish that one’s comment was not said in a manner that could be associated with gay people? The only reason I can come up with is because the gay association is somehow negative.

laureth's avatar

“That’s gay” (being used as a perjorative) is unacceptable. Would someone say “That’s so black” in the same sense? No? Same idea.

I’ve never heard “no homo,” but I’d be tempted to think they like the kind of milk that separates into a cream layer. Maybe I’m old.

tb1570's avatar

No, I’m not particularly offended by those terms, though I don’t personally use them often myself. In fact my gay friends use them more than any straight people I know. And, as @Mr_M so astutely pointed out, in the modern vernacular they seem to have very little to do w/ sexual orientation. However, having said all that, like most things in language, the way things are said and the context in which they are said are often more important than what is actually being said. But I don’t know, upon further reflection, it depends on so many things. If someone says “that movie was gay” or “you’re such a homo” it doesn’t bother me too much too often and really probably has nothing to do w/ anyone’s sexual orientation. But I find “fag” much more offensive, though my gay friends love to use this word, usually in reference to eachother! But we can draw a direct parallel with this to the use of the “N” word w/in the black community. These can be difficult issues and there seems to be no clear-cut lines. I guess in the end it goes back to who’s saying it, to whom are they saying it, how they are saying it and in what context they are saying it.

Grisson's avatar

If a guy who is interacting with another guy has to specify that the interaction was not homosexual in nature, somebody is insecure.

laureth's avatar

Even if somebody saying “that’s so gay” or “you’re a homo” doesn’t mean that the thing or person is actually homosexually inclined, it does seem to imply that “gay” and “homo” are bad and undesirable. That’s where the perjorative comes in.

Mr_M's avatar

I WILL tell you that the new usage of the word “gay” is NOT meant as any reflection of any group. Ask some younger people about it. I was shocked when I first learned it but today, there is a generation using it with no offense intended.

Mr_M's avatar

@laureth, then if you follow your line of thinking and take it back a little farther, “gay” would mean “happy and carefree” and does NOT imply something bad.

Grisson's avatar

@Mr_M Even if that’s not the intent, it doesn’t matter. It is viewed as offensive by a group of people.

Dixie is just a song about missing home in the South. But it is offensive to a group of people. Therefore it should not be used.

StellarAirman's avatar

@Grisson That’s a slippery slope. Where does it end? People can get offended over just about anything these days. Wouldn’t be long before you could barely speak at all without someone being offended by it and saying it isn’t “politically correct” and most likely wanting to sue you for it. For instance there’s a group of people that are offended by the use of the word God in certain places such as the pledge of allegiance or a courthouse building. Then there’s a group of people that are offended that those people are offended by the word God and they want it to stay in the pledge of allegiance and the courthouse building… and on and on… Aren’t there more important things to worry about?

Mr_M's avatar

@Grisson, but my point is, I’m not so sure it’s STILL offensive the same way. I think the new meaning is being used by gay and straight alike. Certainly the original meaning (“happy and carefree”) WAS being used by both. Do we go back and remove the word from everything, even when the intent was a definition that was not offensive? I keep thinking of the Christmas songs “Don we now our gay apparel”. Remember?

tb1570's avatar

@laureth I defiitely understand where you’re coming from and I can see your point, but language is also a living, breathing thing, constantly changing. And the intent behind someones words does matter.

@Grisson I’m smelling what you’re stepping in, but that’s a precarious stance to take. I mean, where do we draw the line? If we never use any words that anyone finds offensive, it might get real hard to communicate real quick! Language is supposed to be a little colorful!

laureth's avatar

@Mr_M Do you think the perjorative use of “gay” has its roots in a quaint meaning for “happy” or as an insult aimed at homosexuals?

@StellarAirman: so it wouldn’t be offensive to you if we used, say, “That’s SO StellarAirman!” to mean that something was subpar, disgusting, or doubleplusungood?

Bri_L's avatar

both are unacceptable.

StellarAirman's avatar

@laureth I can honestly say that no that wouldn’t offend me, whether you used StellarAirman or my real name or my mom’s name or whatever you could think of. I just don’t get offended easily I guess, especially with simple words.

Language changes over time, especially slang. Cool used to only mean a temperature, but even my mom uses it to mean “something good” today. Radical used to only mean a person with radical political views or someone that wanted radical political change or a term in chemistry, then it came to be known as something good, back in the 80’s if not before “That’s radical, man!”.

“An example would be the word nice. Nice used to be an insult and meant foolish or stupid in the 13th century and it went through many changes right through to the 18th century with meanings like wanton, extravagant, elegant, strange, modest, thin, and shy or coy. Now it means a good & pleasing or thoughtful & kind.

Silly meant blessed or happy in the 11th century and went through pious, innocent, harmless, pitiable and feeble minded before ending up as foolish or stupid.

Pretty started as crafty this changed to clever or skillfully made, then to fine and ended up as beautiful.” from

TaoSan's avatar

@StellarAirman

Well, some people have struggled with who they are for so long in their lives that once they come to fragile terms with it their insecurities drive them to compulsively find demeaning/derogatory meaning in others where there is none.

It’s really just another form of insecurity.

I personally believe that the louder someone decries a terminology that is ambiguous at best, the more you can assume that there are certain “insecurities”.

And for those gearing up already to counter this quip with “should certain racial slurs be okay then too”, save it, these racial slurs have no “ambiguous” meanings.

Good morning everyone, by the way.

Jack79's avatar

I am not gay, but I feel that the phrase “this is so gay” is uncalled for and offensive to gay people. I have never used it myself. I have however used the phrase “this is lame” sometimes, which in itself is offensive to lame people. I have never heard anyone say or write “no homo” and don’t even know what it’s supposed to mean.

Bri_L's avatar

Here is my thought, if you can express the same thought a million other ways besides “this is so gay” then why not do it?

KrystaElyse's avatar

I know i’m guilty of it, as i’m sure many people are, but I realize that it’s offensive and that there’s really no reason to use the phrase. I think in some ways it’s a product of ignorance. Since it is so common to hear, “that’s so gay” many people don’t realize that what they are saying is insulting. Or maybe people say it because they can’t think of better ways to express how they feel other than using “That’s so gay”.

I don’t understand why people need to say things like “That movie was so gay.” “That game is so gay.” “That shirt is so gay.” etc? And no matter if you mean it or not, I’m sure we can think of better ways to say you weren’t into whatever you’re talking about than saying that it’s “gay”.

Grisson's avatar

@tb1570 @StellarAirman You are correct. But fluther doesn’t discourage intolerance generally (See discussions on religion and politics), so there is a fairly limited set of groups we are not allowed to offend. That’s also true outside of fluther (see Talk Radio for examples). So the question boils down to specific offenses, ‘that’s so gay’ being one.

adreamofautumn's avatar

I think it’s incredibly rude/offensive/etc. I also have a really strong issue with phrases like “that’s retarded” etc. I always try and have a good, calm talk with people when they use such phrases. I think some people legitimately don’t realize it’s offensive.

laureth's avatar

Perhaps I’m too opinionated on this matter because the epithet “gay” was hurled at me in spite when I got beat up as a kid because of my lesbian mom. That can affect a person for life. Perhaps y’all are right, though – maybe when they said I was gay like my mom, maybe they meant we were both happy. Or dumb.

Grisson's avatar

@adreamofautumn I agree with you about ‘retarded’. That term is thrown about freely, without any concern for offending people. Yet there are many parents of children who [edit] are developmentally delayed for whom the term ‘retarded’ is offensive. Myself for one.

I don’t expect everyone to change their habits of speech just because I find it offensive, but I still cringe whenever I hear it.

The problem is, particularly on the net, you never know who will be privy to the conversation. So I try to recognize and avoid as many of these words and phrases as I can.

However, I will not refrain from telling elephant jokes just because a Republican might be listening.

Jayne's avatar

If I were to to tell someone to bugger off, I would seem quaintly British. But the term derives from Bulgre, a Bulgarian religious sect that in the midst of persecution was branded by the Catholic Church as being devoted to sodomy. However, anyone using the term is not thinking about that derivation, and so it would be ridiculous to condemn them for homophobia. Now, the term ‘that’s gay’ does not have quite the same degree of separation from the original meaning as does ‘bugger’, but many people using it have absolutely no intention of connoting homosexuality. Granted, a person introducing the term into their circle of friends is probably fully conscious of its meaning, but most people simply pick it up by way of sustained exposure, and use it unthinkingly. Naturally, context matters in determining which is the case. I give “No homo” less leeway, because its usage really is linked directly to sexuality, whereas “that’s gay” simply translates to “that’s lame”.

laureth's avatar

@Jayne – Perhaps in a couple hundred years, people will no longer think of the politician when they hear someone say ’Santorum’ either. It’ll be a quaint Americanism!

Bri_L's avatar

@adreamofautumn and @Grisson – I had an aunt who was the oldest downs syndrom in WI. I have a huge problem with people using the phrase “retarded” to describe certain things.

@jayne – then, knowing that “that’s gay” may offend, why not simply choose to say “that’s lame”? Same syllables, fewer meanings to choose from and everything.

Jayne's avatar

@Bri_L That would certainly be preferable, but my point is that the choice doesn’t even come up. It is just something people do without thinking about it, stupid as that may be.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Gawd, yes! It’s time for men to knock that it off, because at the base of it is a deep, deep, DEEP disrespect for the way women navigate through the world and relate to people. A man can’t show feelings, or non-sexual concern, caring or affection without being perceived as – HORRORS! – womanly. Cause you know, homos are erzatz females, right? pfft!

I’m sick of this. As I’m sick of when men call each other bitches or cunts or pussies. Because it’s way to say they’re like women and that women are weak and lowly. I’m not weak or low-status because I don’t have a cock, nor are the thousands of women I’ve known throughout my life. And neither is a man who shows how he feels about things that isn’t just spewing rage.

augustlan's avatar

When I was a kid (many years ago), we threw around the N word in much the same way that younger people today use ‘gay’. Anyone of a certain age has probably heard (or used) the terms ‘N**ger Lipping’ and ‘N**ger Knocking’. That is to say we were unaware of the history and underlying meaning of the N word, so we didn’t know what we were saying was offensive to black people. However, as soon as I became aware of that fact, I quickly banished such language from my vocabulary.

The bottom line is, if you know it is offensive, and there are any number of other words/phrases you could use, why in the hell would you continue to say such things?

tb1570's avatar

Hmmmm….. So what about the ultimate playground insult: “You throw like a girl!!!” Is that offensive??

augustlan's avatar

@tb1570 Say that, and I’ll hit you like a girl. By that I mean, I will kick your ass.

tb1570's avatar

@augustlan You mean you’ll slap me like a bitch?

Really, tongue was planted firmly in cheek. But for those of you who haven’t seen the movie “A Christmas Story,” I highly recommend it you check it out; and be sure to keep an eye (ear?)out for the aforementioned line. It’s quite humorous…

asmonet's avatar

@tb1570: You said that they have very little to do with sexual orientation, but I can’t wrap my mind around that. No homo means No Homo sexual. How can you reconcile those two points?

@Mr_M: There is no way that that’s gay can be looked at as separate from orientation and the negatives it implies. The word started with that meaning. Just because young people don’t recognize the correlation does not mean it isn’t a fact. Black Panther means different things to someone who is fourteen and someone who is forty. It does not change the root, and therefore the underlying meaning just because it’s a different generation.

@StellarAirman: Radical and cool have never been used in their original meaning or new meanings in a derogatory manner, your example is not valid.

___

We wouldn’t condone nigger or kike, why should we accept a slur based on sexuality when that group for the most part argues it is just as natural to them as their ethnicity? If it’s a biological fact, why should we be allowed to use it negatively?

How is referring to salsa as spic sauce really any different from calling someone of my own gender beautiful followed by no homo to disassociate myself from a group I find undesirable or offensive any different?

Hate is hate.

I was in my Soc. class so I just got back to reply. :)

asmonet's avatar

And thank you all who participated so far, it’s all very interesting. :)

tb1570's avatar

@asmonet To be honest, I’d never heard of “no homo” until your post. Guess I’m out of the loop on a lot of the new slurs. But thanks for the question—an interesting post none the less…

asmonet's avatar

@tb1570: It’s relatively new, I’m sure now you know what it is you’ll notice it more. Hopefully, those who have been using it might see this and take a hint to drop (potentially) offensive terms from their speech.

Bri_L's avatar

@tb1570 I had not heard of “no homo” either. I am not sure I understand how it is used. I am sure I wouldn’t use it.

Grisson's avatar

@asmonet Same here. It’s good to know, and avoid, not that it’s the kind of thing I would pick up.

asmonet's avatar

I could find an example on Fluther, but I don’t want to call anyone out specifically.

Here is a relatively good list, with some examples of how the phrase is used.

TaoSan's avatar

One thing I’m wondering, if someone say “no homo” to differentiate himself from “homosexual”, why does that automatically assume that such differentiation implies a derogatory meaning towards homosexual?

I’m not expressing myself in that way, but the mere fact that someone says “no homo” doesn’t automatically translate into being “derogatory” towards homosexual, just “different”.

I don’t know if that is a “majority thing”, but still, it is possible though, no?

tb1570's avatar

@Bri_L Apparently it’s used when a guy wants to compliment another guy w/out being misconstrued as gay. For example, you & I go to the beach together and I say “Hey, Bri! Nice new banana hammock!” but follow this with a quick “No gay” so you don’t take my compliment the wrong way…

Bri_L's avatar

Ah, I see. Wow. In a way, it’s sort of egocentric. It kind of says “I am worried you will think I am a homosexual, find me attractive and hit on me”.

I couldn’t POSSIBLY care about that. I have been hit on by gays and just said, I am sorry I am straight but thank you.

tinyfaery's avatar

1. No Homo: often a phrase used after someone says or does something homosexual
“hey bro I love you man no homo” “thank god you said no homo or else I would’ve thought you were homosexual.

From link above.

I think this says it all. If two guys know each other, and are close enough to compliment each other, why would there be an assumption of homosexuality? Insecurity?

TaoSan's avatar

@tinyfaery

why would there be an assumption of homosexuality? Insecurity?

Sounds like it to me…

Grisson's avatar

@TaoSan Precisely the question. Which means that since the speaker thought it had to be said, then the insecurity is obvious.

asmonet's avatar

@TaoSan: And if there is insecurity, there is a negative attitude implied.

Anyone not following?

TaoSan's avatar

@asmonet

Not really, (imho at least) the insecurity may be rooted in a wanting to belong to one group, not resenting the other, thus negating any negative connotation.

Jayne's avatar

But if that one group defines itself as ‘not homo’, then there is a negative sentiment towards homosexuals.

asmonet's avatar

@TaoSan: I don’t understand how you don’t see the relationship. I really don’t.

TaoSan's avatar

@Jayne

Why??? Isn’t that dealing in absolutes? I can’t follow, really. That’s a very negative view, it implies that by not wanting to be part of that one group I have negative sentiment towards it, instead of an overwhelmingly positive sentiment towards my own. That’s very narrow.

@asmonet
I noticed I’m a bit naive when it comes to “questionable” terminology. I just refuse to assume the worst implication when there is in fact some ambiguity. Maybe I do still believe in the good in people.

asmonet's avatar

@TaoSan: But that’s just it, there is no ambiguity. None.

TaoSan's avatar

@asmonet

Dunno, I’m known to at the same time bluntly and naively run into “terminology-PC issues”.

Maybe this is one of those times.

Jayne's avatar

It is one thing not to want to be a part of another group. It is entirely another to explicitly insist that you are not a part of that other group when there is no reason to do so. And this ‘group’ we are talking about does not have any defining characteristics other than being not gay. Any group that would define itself in such a way essentially must have anti-gay feelings; the only thing that divides gay and straight is what kind of nooky they like, and I can’t imagine why heterosexual guys, for instance, should develop some type of group bond because they all like having sex with women. Its a ridiculous reason to define an inclusive group, but it is clear that people use it to exclude people from their group, so it is reasonable to assume that any group that defines itself as ‘not homo’ is doing so not because they feel warm and fuzzy at the thought of their collective love for the opposite sex, but rather because they are afraid of being seen as gay (which presumably is a result of looking down on gays themselves).

galileogirl's avatar

Let’s admit it these kinds of things come from adolescent brains, whether they ar 14 or 44. The people who say them have no real sense of what they mean or how hurtful they can be to people who have been persecuted by the attitudes they represent.

There are ways to deal with this kind of ignorant cruelty but most people don’t do it. The first thing of course, is not to approach a stranger on the street, that may be dangerous and you have to draw the line somewhere.

If we hear someone we know make such a statement, you need to take that person aside and explain to them how offensive what they said is to you and you cannot be in the presence of anyone who is purposely hateful. Tell them you assume they were not aware of what they said but now that they do you know they won’t say it again.

I expect to get a couple of raspberries for my answer but it is what I do and it works. I deal with scores of actual adolescents every day so it comes up several times a year. Their is followup of course, A repetition and the individual is dealt with on the spot and if an apology isn’t forthcoming, there is a public lesson. In almost 20 years there have been more than half a dozen young people who haven’t responded positively and they were removed to a party who could employ serious sanctions and only one did not eventually return changed. That one not only was not allowed back in my class she was required to change schools.

With a putative adult I have cut to the chase and told him that I couldn’t spend time with anyone who spoke like that and then left it up to him if he wanted to remain my friend.

At the same time if someone was offended by what I said and they politely told me so, I would either not say it again or cut my ties with that person.

If anybody cannot be changed from this frame of mind when they know what homophobic, racist or other hate speech means, they are not worthy of knowing.

TaoSan's avatar

which presumably is a result of looking down on gays themselves

Okay, I can follow the logic of your entire post, but in your last sentence lies the crux.

“presumably”.

I’m simply not eager to “presume” what goes on in people’s heads. For all I know the person expressing himself that way might be gay and still in the closet or what have you.

Neither am I taking any stance on this issue, nor am I trying to prove any point. I merely think it is a slippery slope to assume the mindset of a person by some expression.

To me, this kind of talk is just childish, not much more. And while it may take insecurity on the part of the one to express himself that way, there is certainly just as much insecurity involved to be offended or hurt by it.

I really can’t relate to people who would deduct like:

Says something that means he isn’t like me
must mean he doesn’t approve of me
must mean he looks down on me
thus
what he said was derogatory

Dunno, maybe I’m really being naive on this one, or lack perspective. The only way for me to “really” feel offended, is when the offending phrase is directed at me personally. Life/people come(s) in too many sizes and flavors.

Jayne's avatar

There should be no reason to fear being considered gay unless you yourself would deride somebody you think to be gay. But of course, there is still that ‘should’. I suppose that a person could value his friends’ opinions of him even though he knows those opinions are flawed, especially if that person is generally insecure about himself (I totally missed that part of your argument until now. Sorry about that.) While people should ideally stand up for their opinions in such a situation, who am I to pick their battles for them? I guess my position on this is still that these terms are offensive if used in their original sense, but it is impossible to know in what sense they are being used, and even if you know that the meaning is itself offensive, you should be careful to judge people based on that (although that last applies to most everything, does it not?)

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I hate it when people say shit like that, which I’ve made clear many times on the site before. Regardless of whether or not people are truly thinking about what they’re saying, you can only come to two conclusions. The first is that they are homophobic and intentionally saying it to put down gay people. The second is that they’re stupid because they don’t have enough brainpower to actually think about what they’re saying.

Personally, I don’t think either should be encouraged.

asmonet's avatar

@Jayne: Incredibly well put, I have a hard time remembering you’re a teenager, I really do.

@galileogirl: I think it’s admirable that you stand up for your beliefs that strongly. Nice, no raspberries here. :)

@DrasticDreamer: I lurve you. :)

tiffyandthewall's avatar

nearly my entire school says “no homo”. it’s so annoying. like, at first i didn’t think much of it, especially coming from people who i know are supportive of homosexuals and just meant it as a silly way to clarify that they were saying something that could be taken a different way than it was meant. but now everyone’s saying it after every single thing they say, and it’s so so so obnoxious. sure, i don’t want people thinking i’m a lesbian – for the same reason i wouldn’t want people thinking i’m a basketball player (because i am not!) – but i’m not going to go out of my way to be like “NO HOMO!~!~” every time i compliment a friend or talk about some chick being pretty. if people want to assume that i’m a lesbian because of something i say, so be it.

the “that’s so gay” thing drives me up the wall though. i’ve never said it, and never will. it just makes no sense to me. “no homo” is irritating but usually just said jokingly, but the “that’s gay” thing is just ridiculous, and i’m so sick of it. i know a few gay people who aren’t offended by it, but the point is that with all of the already existing discrimination against gays, why add to it by making it into an insult??

TaoSan's avatar

@Jayne

Well put. Frankly, I can’t even imagine to end a sentence with “no homo”, or to label a color, or a taste, a car or a movie as “gay”, (unless it’s Brokeback Mountain :), I simply think it’s so silly that’s it’s not even worthy of being considered consulting.

But yes, your reasoning makes me see the logic behind it.

@asmonet

I see it now! :)

@galileogirl
No Razzie at all

asmonet's avatar

@tiffyandthewall: So I don’t see why that’s gay and no homo are different in your eyes? They both have the same meaning on a basic level. How can you be fine with one and offended by the other?

@TaoSan: Huzzah! :)

TaoSan's avatar

and what the heck is up with my typing??????

tonedef's avatar

As a real, live gay person, I really dislike both of these phrases. Using “that’s gay” as an expression of anger or disappointment is problematic for the hundreds of reasons listed above, and I think is the more problematic of the two. So does the Ad Council, apparently.

I agree with @galileogirl that these both come from a very adolescent place- you say “no homo” because of the lingering terror from high school that you’d get the shit kicked out of you if someone even thought you were gay. It’s said with humor, but jokes at others’ expense are usually a way to cope with some kind of fear.

Mr_M's avatar

I have no problem understanding the problems caused by the use of the two phrases and would not use them myself. As I mentioned, I heard teens throwing the phrase around and my first reaction was shock. It seemed like they were shouting out an equivalent of the “n” word and I couldn’t understand where they were coming from.

But what I DO have a problem with in the use of the phrase “That is so gay” is that, unlike the “n” word,

It’s ok to use if you are talking to a homosexual person or about homosexuality (ex., “Gay Liberation”). The word “gay” is not offensive to homosexuals when it’s about homosexuals.

You can tell a gay person “that is so gay” if you are talking about something he has (say, shoes) and that’s fine;

But you can’t tell a straight person “that is so gay” if you are talking about the same item but in a straight person’s possession. Then that’s offensive?

tb1570's avatar

I have an idea: why don’t we start our own new slang? When ever we want to be extra cool & use an expression that comes straight from the ‘hood or some new gangsta rap song, we follow it up with “no nigga.” For example “Hey, Asmonet!! What’s the haps, my biz-nitch?? Yo, that new ipod of yours is the shiz-nit, be-atch! Totally whack!!—No nigga.”

Or if I wanted to be sure I wasn’t being associated w/ white trash, but I still wanted to go watch me some NASCAR, I could say “Hey, BillyBobTaoSan, what say you & me head on down to the track today and watch us a lil’ racin? Let’s pick up a caser a Milwaukee’s Best Light and a carton a GPCs on the way—an’ we’ll have a helluva time!! Maybe we can even fin’ some good ol’ girl to flash us her tig ol’ bitties!! Hooo-weee, I’m tellin’ ya son, if’n that thar don’t sound like the most perfectest day unner God’s creatshun, I’ll be a coon’s ass!! Hooo-dog!!! Let’s git!!! No cracka.”

How do you think that would go over?

In all seriousness, maybe there is something to that line of thought. Maybe the more we use these kinds of words, the less powerful they become, and eventually their meaning changes altogether or they just fade away. I mean, let’s just make ‘em so ridiculous, so absolutely over the top, that when ever some jack-ass actually uses the words w/ the intention to hurt someone else, we’ll all just look at each other, then look at him and then just laugh!. B/c, regardless of the small differences of opinions shown on this thread, not one person has come out in favor of intentionally trying to hurt another person, and that of course is where the real problem lies.

Anyway, I’m sure it would never work—just thinking out loud here. Guess we’ll just have to give it a couple hundred years. And of course by then we’ll have a whole new set of words that are considered offensive. After all, language is constantly changing…

Later, my fluthas…

StellarAirman's avatar

@tb1570 haha. Sounds like a plan to me. People generally go to a lot of effort to show that they associate themselves with a certain group in the way they speak or dress or behave or who they hang out with, etc. Why not put forth a little effort to say who you aren’t associating with? :)

Grisson's avatar

We do have our own slang. We write something and follow it with a question mark.

TaoSan's avatar

@tb1570

Priceless!!! :)

tonedef's avatar

@Mr_M, I think you’re under the assumption that in your scenarios (about the shoes that are so gay), the phrases mean the same thing. They presumably don’t. “That’s so gay” can mean either 1) “that is traditionally characteristic of gay people, and 2) “that is stupid.”

It’s not appropriate, for gay or straight people, to tell a gay or straight person that something they have/do/are is “so gay” as in stupid (meaning #1 above).

Meaning #2, while drawing on stereotypes, is less offensive. “You have all of Britney’s albums? You’re so gay!” While it’s less offensive that equating gay with stupid, it’s still offensive. It’s analogous to saying, “You’re complaining about gas prices? What a Jew!” This one might be more accepted within-group (gay people can say it to other gay people). And you said that this isn’t like the n-word, but I think that it’s similar in that its use by someone in the outgroup is not a good idea, because it’s too often related to hatred or prejudice.

TaoSan's avatar

@asmonet

See, I told ya! Ambiguity!

galileogirl's avatar

@Mr_M A stereotype is a stereotype and using them is intellectually dishonest. However when a 15 yo says ‘that’s so gay’ he doesn’t mean creative and exciting (also a stereotype), he means weak and unmanly.

tonedef's avatar

Also, timely article (semi-NSFW. There’s some half-naked men on there.) on who can and should use the word, and how, in response to a weird statement Kanye West made about it.

Mr_M's avatar

@galileogirl , when I hear it used by the teens, “unmanly” doesn’t enter into it. It means “lousy” to them.

laureth's avatar

Here’s a pertinent short blurb I heard on NPR today. It’s about the use of “that’s so gay” among students.

“He says they wanted to find out how many kids hear hate speech in their schools. And compare who feels safe to who doesn’t feel safe. He says the survey found that the straight kids felt safe in school, as opposed to many of the gay kids who did not feel safe [when such language is used].”

My point here is that while “no one thinks about this phrase at all,” it might just mean that only the straight kids aren’t thinking about it. Apparently, the gay kids are.

galileogirl's avatar

@Mr_M same difference to teens.

shadling21's avatar

The word “gay” is gay. =P

This is a great thread. I’m sorry I missed the main action.

Equating gay with bad and homosexual with gay is not cool by me. I don’t know what solutions there are to this, but it may be that the phrase will have to fall out of use naturally. It’s bound to happen. Let’s just hope the next “it” word for “stupid” is less politically incorrect.

laureth's avatar

Equating “homosexual” with “gay” is not cool by you? You’re going to have to do a lot of work to unbind those two words in this culture.

asmonet's avatar

She meant at the same time. :P
Or were you kidding?

shadling21's avatar

Yes, I meant at the same time. There is probably a better way to phrase that. Let’s use mathematics!

“gay” = “bad”
“gay” = “homosexual”
Therefore:
“bad” = “homosexual”

But since “homosexual” =/= “bad”, there must be an error somewhere down the line.
This = “not cool”.

laureth's avatar

Ah, okay. I wasn’t kidding. I thought you meant something like, “Let’s take ‘gay’ back to the original meaning, such as ‘light and carefree’.”

Zen's avatar

What about queer?

tinyfaery's avatar

Aww. So many great Jellies in this thread. Miss them.

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