quit using “gay” as slang.

27 May

Roc HudsonI’ve heard many many guys say, “Bro, you’re so gay!” or, just flat-out, “you’re gay.” I’m assuming that the men saying this are not referring to their bro’s clearly self-actualized sexuality or uncanny cheeriness. Sadly, they’re ripping their friend by using this word derogatively. Let’s talk about this.

Men are hard-wired to be afraid of the unknown. We use this fear to protect our families (I lock the doors 3x a night), to do better in jobs with hopes of making more money (or at least not getting fired), and we use fear to antagonize one another. Calling someone gay works so well because straight dudes can’t really fathom being gay. The idea of being emotionally and physically intimate with a man, to a straight man, is unthinkably odd. And, because it’s just so unknown, straight men become fearful of it.

So what do we do when we’re afraid or uncomfortable? We laugh, we lash out, and we lose our decorum. We all do this, I do this. When I watch a part of a movie that’s particularly sad (Carrie throwing the flowers at Big), I laugh and say, “Oh my god, this movie sucks”. Does it suck? Oh hell no, nor will the sequel.

So what’s the right response? First, admit that you don’t fully understand how someone can be gay. Second, recognize that because you don’t understand it, you’re probably mentally wired to act like an idiot by default. Third, recognize that your instinct to act like an doofus is disrespectful to those who aren’t afraid of our Grown Gay Men. Forth, commit to not calling your bro’s gay when they leave Hamburger Helper out overnight. Finally, start ripping on them for other stuff you know nothing about:

-You’re so goals for the future!
-You’re so American History!
-You’re so shower!

But grown man, I’m not afraid of gay guys, I just think it’s funny.

Nope. Quit it.

One more thing. While not many people read this blog (except for last Friday where about 400 people in Boulder, CO found it), I’m not allowing any rude comments on this post. This is the first You’re A Grown Man post that deals with anything somewhat polarizing – please don’t be tools about it.

9 Responses to “quit using “gay” as slang.”

  1. mikejmurray 27 May 2010 at 5:54 pm #

    Okay, I will try to not be rude in this post, but if you feel I am I will humbly respect if you choose to delete this reply.

    I used to use this phrase a lot back in the day. Not so much anymore… Coming from the world of theatre, I have friends who are openly gay. I love them. Yet, I still admit to using this phrase. If people were offended I chalked it up to oversensitivity.

    But then I realized I have my own trigger word that makes my own blood boil: ‘retard’. People use that word in the same context as ‘gay’. Growing up I knew a lot of mentally handicapped people. Hearing that word angers me. Why do I get so fired up about ‘retard’ but not about ‘gay’? Maybe because the former hits closer to home. I’m sure there are people who are fine with the word ‘retard’ but are offended by ‘gay’.

    I guess my point is that i think people don’t fully realize the weight of all their words. I’m torn. Part of me wants to say screw it, say what you want, people need to stop being so sensitive. Yet, part of me genuinely wants to right this wrong. What to do…

    • you're a grown man 27 May 2010 at 6:03 pm #

      First of all, thanks for the incredibly thoughtful reply. And I fully agree, “retard” is a despicable word to use as hurtful slang – just like every other word we’ve ever mutilated for our own jacked up purposes. I chose to write about “gay” for this post not because it was worse, but because I feel like I hear it more. But then again, I’m probably more sensitive to it because I have a dear friend who is gay.

      You are right, people don’t realize the weight of their words, but I’m not torn as you are. I don’t think we should say what we want, we should strive to be funny without being hurtful and respectful to those we perceive as different. I’m glad you are sensitive to it, you will raise the bar on what a Grown Man should be defined as.

      Take care Mike, and thanks for reading.

  2. Mike 2 June 2010 at 11:34 am #

    I really enjoyed this posting. I often give my friends dirty looks after using it. They think I think it is funny. To be honest using “stupid”, “retarded”, “gay” or anything in that vein makes the person saying seem uneducated, childish, and well one of those words. There is plenty of other slang to cover you thinking something is uncool or to express your disinterest. “Wack” or “lame” work just as well.
    The other thing you find with people who use gay is that they simply call something gay. They usually don’t go on to explain, for example: I think that that new car is gay, because well look at it the tail lights are shaped oddly and the back seat is so small. Usually it is just, that car is gay.
    Anyway that’s my rant. Thanks again for this post I really enjoyed it.

  3. ebasedBOB 2 June 2010 at 4:42 pm #

    Grown Man,

    I am thrilled that I stumbled upon your blog today! Thanks to ‘Freshly Pressed’ for listing “it’s okay to hug/be hugged by other grown men”. {thumbs up}

    This post is great, and I can relate, as I am sure many other grown men can. I too dislike it whenever I hear someone use words like ‘gay’ or ‘retard’ as derogatory or demening. Even before I was a grown man I did not like hearing friends tell each other “don’t be gay” or “that’s so gay”.

    A perfect example of this was our senior year, seniors only ‘mystery mission trip’ in high school, which took us to Atlanta, Philly and Raleigh. While in Atlanta we stayed @ a United Methodist Church whose senior pastor just so happened to be a gay man. Before we stayed @ the church that night, our youth leader talked to us all about this. She specifically expressed her disgust over hearing some of the guys in our youth group using ‘gay’ as a negative word, and boy did that finally shut them up.

    I haven’t been in touch with many of those guys since high school, but I regrettably fear that some of them more than likely still call things and people ‘gay’ when they are unsure of them. {shakes head} Hopefully they’ll be grown men one day…

    Looking forward to reading more of your posts,

  4. lookingforsomethingtofind 3 June 2010 at 12:58 pm #

    First of all let me say that this blog is terrific and I’m glad I have found it. I agree, recently a close friend of mine came out of the closet (sort of, he said he is bisexual, I assumes that falls under the umbrella of gay, if I am wrong please correct me on this). Anyway you’d never guessed it, as he seemed like one of the least effeminate people I have ever met. My other friends who are all straight, and my straight self included, aren’t as good at outdoors, do it your self repair stuff, he had a worse temper, was better at sports and could throw a really good punch and all that. Anyway I had always been someone would use gay like that, not out of any hate, it was just how my group of high school friends spoke to one another. I felt like a heel about it, after learning this about him. So I have to totally agree with this post, that we sometimes don’t realize who we are hurting when we think we are just kidding around.

  5. Tonica 3 June 2010 at 7:28 pm #

    First I’d like to say that this is a great blog. I’m glad I found it.

    Now for the comment about this post – I have a gay friend who uses derogatory terms about other gays, so obviously it’s the sort of thing people do without thinking. (I’m a woman, so maybe this doesn’t count, but I’d like to think that I never thoughtlessly use derogatory terms about minority groups. I think I don’t, but who knows? Sometimes something might slip out, when I’m not thinking. I do however say very derogatory things about people when I’m angry, but that’s on purpose, because I hate them. LOL. Totally different thing.)

  6. Coco 4 June 2010 at 1:21 pm #

    I’m totally stealing “You’re so American History!” to toss around in casual conversation.

  7. BeneathTheSpinLight 9 June 2010 at 8:51 pm #

    The sequel sucked. But I’m glad you could at least admit that the first movie was good.


  1. Ask a Grown Man: Vol. IX « you're a grown man - 12 August 2010

    […] Quit using gay as slang, GM […]

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