There is a behavior that I am seeing in more and more people and it is becoming quite pervasive in every day conversation. I would say that it is “sweeping the nation” but that would give this behavior a positive spin that I do not intend to give it. As well, I think it is ridiculous that I should even want to write this article, let alone feel obligated to do so. We are supposedly a modern society that should know better than treat people this way. Sometimes, it seems like we didn’t learn anything from the civil rights movement.
Search Google for this word. Use the query “define:gay“. You will see definitions like these:
The term gay was originally used, until well into the mid-20th century, primarily to refer to feelings of being “carefree”, “happy”, or “bright … (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay)
–noun 7. a homosexual person, esp. a male. (Dictionary.com: Gay)
If you peruse through the Urban Dictionary though, you will see that this word has taken on another meaning and usage entirely:
The word ‘gay’ is an insult or adjective for something that is unpleasant. (Urban Dictionary: Gay)
Some of the ways people use this word:
“Dude, you’re gay”
“That was gay”
I do not see the difference between using the “N word” and saying “gay” as a synonym for unpleasant. In my book these two things are exactly the same. As a grown man you should see and understand that it is NOT any different. It does not matter if you are someone who is straight, if you are afraid of gay people, if you were “brought up that way”, or if you are just ignorant of the fact that what you do every day actually effects other people. You still should not use this word in this way.
People blindly emulate each other. As men, we look up to our fathers, sports figures, and action heroes. We do this by instinct from birth because otherwise we would not be able to walk or communicate. When we are babies we have no choice but to emulate our parents or day-care providers. As grown people, we get the choice. Unfortunately, so many people do not take it because they are afraid that sticking their necks out by doing something unconventional for their social circle will cause them to be outcast.
It may be true that people who have become accustomed to a certain way of living, or in this case using words in a specific way, will not be welcoming to you when you decide buck the norm and actually start thinking about the words you are using. Typically, the person who decides to actively go against the grain in a social circle is also the person who is on the outside. As a man it is important to learn to stand up for what you believe is the right thing to do no matter what and deal with the consequences. The value to yourself and the world around you is worth the effort.
As a man. No, screw that, as a caring human being. We should feel obligated to make sure that the words that we use do not offend or put down or classify people in a way that outcasts them. Whenever we use the word gay to describe something other than “happy” or “sexual orientation” we are failing on our responsibility to be respectful of other people and the lives they live.
It is not our jobs or our right to criticize people for their sexual preference, their choice in foods, their favorite colors, religion or other specific orientation in their lives. At what point were we given the right to make someone feel like less of a person for what they know is right in their hearts?
I am not sitting here typing and ignorantly thinking that just because someone believes that what they are doing is right that it is. I want to make this very clear. In our efforts to becoming better men, it is important to identify the things we do that hurt other people and remove them from our lives.
As I admitted before, I am guilty of using the word gay in this way. It was many years ago, but I did it too. The way I stopped making this my knee jerk go-to word for everything was to simply stop and think about the things I was saying. At first, I would notice it afterward but as I became more vigilant about what I was saying, I was able to catch myself before hand and either say nothing or saying something else.
I have found that my choice of words been varied by the exercise of thinking about what I am saying before I say it. This has helped me to communicate on a daily basis in a more concise and respectful way, but also I do not have that nagging feeling that I may insult someone’s way of life just by involuntarily opening my big mouth.
I still still slip and use curse words where another more descriptive word would suffice. The Journey to being a better man means that I vigilantly make it a point to never use words that, just by their usage, would cause someone around me to be offended.