Recommended listening: Hold On by Good Charlotte
As I walk down the hallways it is common to hear a conversation similar to the following:
"Hey man, what's up?"
"Oh, not much, just studying for this gay test Friday."
"Yeah man, bummer."
And, with that, the kids go on there way as if nothing at all has transpired.
To me, this is cause for alarm. People throw around the word gay, and even more potentially offensive terms, with little to no regard for the repercussions. In today's world, especially that of the youth, the word gay has come to mean lame or stupid.
The transformation of the word gay is on the minds of many and plays an integral role in our daily lives. Other bloggers have noticed the shift in our colloquial use of gay. This blog explores the origins of the word gay and how the label has developed over time. This blog identifies the same issues I raise, however the blogger claims that there is really no trouble or substantial harm in the evolution of the word gay. I beg to differ.
On Sept. 22, Tyler Clementi's Facebook status simply read, “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.”
According to The New York Times, Clementi committed suicide after footage of him involved in a sexual encounter with another male aired on the Internet. Two of his Rutgers University classmates are currently being charged with invasion of privacy. Similar incidents have been increasing in frequency with six* teen suicides due to homophobic bullying reported in September.
Here, I believe the ramifications of certain attitudes and phobias related to homosexuals are apparent. Although I am by no means insinuating that someone using the word "gay" out of context drove Clementi to suicide, I do believe that the way our culture has shaped the word gay contributes to the rampant surge of homophobia that seems to be sweeping the nation.
So, what's next?
I think the best option is to start within. So many of us are guilty of throwing around the word gay out of context. The consequences of such word choice are legitimate and significant. Once we start monitoring ourselves and those around us we have a chance at changing the way we shape the evolution of the word gay. The bottom line is this: no one should have to deal with their identity being associated with such negative connotations. Being gay shapes the lives of many, but the negative connotations the word "gay" has accumulated are unnecessary in shaping the identity of gay individuals as well as the identity of our society as a whole.
Everybody's journey is individual. If you fall in love with a boy, you fall in love with a boy. The fact that many Americans consider it a disease says more about them than it does about homosexuality.
*movement in response to the increase in frequency of teen suicides: It Gets Better Project
*much of this also applies to the word retarded