Do Gamers Use The Word ‘Gay’ Too Casually?

Do Gamers Use The Word ‘Gay’ Too Casually?

Words are powerful, but they also have the potential to evolve. I myself have been very guilty of using the word ‘gay’ in a derogatory way without really thinking about the impact of that word. My argument has always been that the word, in a certain context, has a different meaning – but is that a cop-out?

Sanya Weathers thinks so. In an interesting article, Sanya discusses the way gamers tend to use the word ‘gay’ as a casual insult.

Gaming forums, being somewhat dominated by young straight males, tend to be one of the last places in our culture where you can toss around homophobic (and misogynist) slurs with abandon. I don’t mean there’s always evil intent. When you ask one of these kids why he said “gay” when what he meant was “stupid” or “contemptible,” most of the time he’ll just blink at you. A few of them mumble an explanation that basically goes “I didn’t mean gay, like, GAY. It’s just a word on a gaming forum, it doesn’t mean anything.”

Well, it’s not just a word, it does mean something, and I don’t allow it to be used in a derogatory way on any channel where I have mod powers. If you do allow it, you’re basically saying to every kid who is LGBT or questioning that his or her kind isn’t really welcome in your community, and that the only way they can stay is if they pretend they don’t care. Just like you don’t care if some mouthbreather uses “gay” as the very worst possible insult.

Is this a case of political correctness gone mad, or is it a valid complaint? My view on these things is if someone is genuinely offended or upset by the way in which I use a word, the onus is on me to be more careful with how I use it.

Sanya is looking for a change.

It will cost you nothing to change this paradigm. It doesn’t take very long, or many repetitions of “do not use that word” before people find other, better insults. You don’t even have to ban, or get agitated. You just have to say no. I’ve proven it on multiple forums ranging in size from hundreds to tens of thousands of people. So much for “it’s just a word gamers use.” Gaming forums do not have to be ruled by the worst our genre has to offer.

So, speaking of help: Help me, fellow mods and CMs. (And help me, players, by reporting and not responding when you see it.) We’ve got to stop tolerating homophobia in our communities. I’m not saying we have to go and get gay married. You don’t even have to support an agenda of any kind. All you have to do is say that you will not permit one of your customers to call another one of your customers a faggot.

Personally, Sanya’s piece has made me question the way I use the word ‘gay’. Plenty of minority groups believe that taking control of a word and transforming its meaning is a powerful act of defiance, but as a heterosexual male, it isn’t really my place to do that.

Thoughts?

It Gets Better, and It Begins With Us [Eating Bees]

Comments

  • I don’t engage in the pointless sniping which takes place on forums, I have better things to do.
    But in such an environment, words like gay seem largely interchangable with idiot, jerk, tool, loser or any other insult (or the l33t equivalent) as they have reached the stage where all are meaningless adjectives or adverbs used to gain attention.
    Is it being misused? Yes. But it is not being used maliciously by the cruel, it is being used in ignorace by fools who want to get a reaction. They won’t change if they get one.

  • What about “raped” or “molested”? Those words get thrown around my friends’ LAN parties quite often, just because “owned” didn’t aptly describe how badly someone got beaten. There are plenty of words gamers use that would turn heads in public.

    • Totally. The word ‘rape’ is so casually used in competitive gaming. I’ve always found it a bit weird.

      • My sister used the word “fraped” when someone used her facebook login to post rude comments. It’s a bit sick to compare the two things like that. I’m also “not in the loop”, so maybe I’m crazy.

    • Oh! I was playing Alice: Madness Returns whilst on TeamSpeak for the past few nights.
      I used the word ‘molested’ a few times. Ignoring some of the darker themes of the game, I was being half chomped on or groped by enemies (There’s a boss which is pretty much two hands, and he grabs Alice and throws her around like a plaything).
      Close to the definition, but possibly still not appropriate, I guess.

    • In terms of trying to convey a sense of being physically violated, it’s hard to think of something that tops that and hyperbole definitely plays a role here.

      That and “obliterated” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as well.

    • …Especially if you actually have someone very close to you who was, in fact, raped.

      <—-

      🙁

      • Yeah same here, I tend to try my hardest to not use ‘gay’ or ‘raped’ in context when relating to anything. I’ve been told off majorly by a very close friend for using the word ‘gay’ in normal speak when describing a stupid piece of tech, she has a lot of gay friends, so it was hurtful to her. Which I understand.

  • I used to use the word all the time, now I never ever use it unless I mean homosexual. I pretty much forced myself to stop saying it because it really bugged me.

    • I went through the exact same thing. I used the word a lot back in school, as it was what all the kids said when they meant ‘bad’. Afterwards I realised that it was offensive to gay people with whom I had nothing against. So I made an effort to stop using it in that way and it really wasn’t very hard.

      Now when I hear someone over 18 use the word ‘gay’ when they mean something bad I usually think they are immature, often times I will make a joke about them calling it gay, to point out that the definition doesn’t really work. I’m not going to get on someone’s back about it, I just hope that by showing how dumb it is to call something bad gay, they will stop using it and will never offend anyone with it.

      Though I do have to say, I have a problem with someone saying that ‘gamers’ use the word gay too much. Young people use the word too much, it is just that most young people are gamers. To say that gamers are using the word too much is making an unfair generalisation, which I actually find more offensive than people using gay in a negative way.

  • Do… do we actually use the word “gay” a lot though? I know what Sanya’s talking about, but I haven’t heard it used like that since… high school? I would argue that it isn’t necessarily gamers who use the term “gay” as a casual insult, but rather, as she points out, young, straight males who use the term, who also play games, bringing their language to the mix. Just a (possibly large) union of sets between people who play games and people who use the word in that context.

      • The guild fell apart a little while ago due to player burnout and other issues. The language rules were generally well-received; a few people were vocal in their disagreement but most people accepted the change and were mature enough to respect the new rules. It was relatively seamless.

        Some people said that they felt it ruined their fun (some people can’t have fun unless they are calling each other fags and talking about raping people, apparently); others said they felt that the guild environment was a lot better.

  • For me the problem is when someone says “gay” they are using it in a negative context. It does not even have to be used in a homophopic way but it still associates someones sexual preference with negative feelings. This in my opinion places a uneeded strain on the gay community which already has to face hate from many areas.
    As a teacher when I hear students using the word I encourage them to use words that better illustrate their feelings. I much rather hear a student call another an idiot than call them gay for doing something stupid.

    • As far as I know a few peoole left (guess some people feel it’s their right to throw around hurtful words)
      The rest just took a bit of adjusting to get used to. Obviously some people slipped up. Most were fine with it. Who would have thought there was mature people left on the Internet?

      • I would say in that sort of a situation some people will leave just because they feel like they are being censored. It doesn’t matter if it is only a single word, and the single word is one people probaby shouldn’t be saying, a very small minority will always rebel no matter how minor a censorship is. You would expect some to leave, I’m sure the majority didn’t mind the change so much and could easily adapt.

  • Whenever I see the use of ‘gay’ thrown around like that then I just remember that the original meaning was ‘happy’ and it just changes the whole tone of whatever rant the person is on.

    The one that bugs me, and most fellow female gamers I’ve spoken to, is when people start talking about how they were ‘raped’ in a battleground or whatever it was they were doing.

    • You really touched on sumething there in your first sentence. words are evolving all the time. The general understanding of the word gay in the past was of happiness and enjoymeny. maybe it is undergoing another evolution. homosexuals have definitely taken the word as their own and let it empower them, In the same way that african americans took the N word from the whites who used in a derogatory way towards them, but if the use of it is causing so much displeasure amongst homosexuals then maybe it is time to let the word go. The only problem with this is that it may take a couplem of hundred years (going by the past) as well as other words that represent homosexuals (such as faggot) being used in the same derogatory way over the internet

      Or maybe everyone should just accept the old saying “you can’t clean up the internet”

  • yes. when you stand back and hear, gay and rape being used how they are. They don’t understand what they are saying, they are being homophobic even though they don’t mean it, you are harmonizing gay with bad.

    • If being homophobic is having an irrational fear of homosexuals (Mind you this doesn’t really make sense semantically) then how on earth are they doing that by using the word in a different context? I love dogs but still use the term “that was a dog act.”

      • Though saying it is homophobic itself is probably a bit much, it does promote the concept of homophobia by equating the word gay with something bad. I’m sure you love dogs very much but the reason the phrase ‘that was a dog act’ exists and is understood is because dogs are seen as being lower than human, ie ‘that person did something that was less than what a human would do, something that only an animal would do’

        You are promoting the concept that dogs are a lesser life form than human, or at least have a lesser concept of morality. I’m sure there are people that would argue both sides of that, whether dogs are better than people, but the phrase exists because that concept exists, that is why people understand what you mean when you say it.

        For people to understand that when you call something gay you mean bad, means they must understand that gay means bad. It might not be homophobia to say it, but if everyone used the word that way I think it would be hurtful towards gay people.

        Imagine if it was your name that everyone used in a negative context? If everyone used my name to mean something was bad I would probably start to take offense at it.

  • I’ve often thought a great deal about this.

    I often find myself saying this and other more derogatory terms as an expletive, and while I don’t mean to insult gay people the thought crosses my mind that it is far from the choice of words I should be using.

    It sort of reminds me of the south park episode where they have the word definition replaced to mean motorbike riders – even though the plot was humorous the message was quite clear that many people who use the word in anger do not mean to insult gay people when they do so.

    At the end of the day I don’t use the word when I’m with other people – it tends to be something I mutter under my breath in the comfort of my own home (or yell it in my car when someone cuts me off).

    It’s definitely a topic of discussion that can swing either way (no pun intended… for once!)

  • Reminds me of the “fag” episode on south park. I completely diagree with Sanya. Frankly, many words have multiple meanings, and the meanings of words changes over time anyway. And gay has always been an insult, even when describing homosexual people, somewhere along the line the sense of insult has been lost.

  • That is so gay.

    But seriously, I have the same problem too. Maybe it’s just the age we’ve grown up in? My group of mates had a gay guy we were friends with and whenever he was around and I accidentally dropped the “faggot” bomb or gay, I always felt pretty bad, even though he never took offense to it. It’s one of the only things I’m conflicted about. I know that it’s offensive to some people, but at the same time, I honestly feel that in this day and age the words meanings have shifted from being a derogatory term for homosexuals, and more towards just about anything that sucks.

    I don’t know, I’ll probably cop a bit of flak for that, but it seems like it’s even more like that in my younger brothers age group (16-17). Everyone on his Facebook drops “gay” and “faggot” like it’s going out of fashion.

    Oh and my little cousin (17-18) has photos of her gay friends and tags them as “fags” in it, and she says it’s because they’re taking the word back?

    I know I’m rambling but I literally just woke up, time for a coffee..

    • I don’t think it’s really enough to say that ‘the meaning of the word has changed to mean bad, so people can use it freely’ – but at the same time, it’s obvious that people aren’t using it to be offensive.

      A double meaning still persists. People wouldn’t use the word ‘gay’ or ‘fag’ to describe something as stupid/bad/whatever if that link didn’t already exist. Even if they don’t mean to make that implication, it’s a cultural thing.

    • noooooooooo you have defiled kotaku! I need to scrub myself now! *scrub scrub scrub

      but deep down I know no matter how much I scrub I will never be clean again… *scrub scrub scrub

  • I can’t remember the name for it, but there is a phenomena where once one word becomes unacceptable, something else simply takes that word’s place. The example I saw about it related to the mentally retarded.

    Specifically the word “retarded”. It was once the acceptable term (and linguistically justified before it was adopted as a negative term) because the previously accepted term had been adopted as an insult. Once retarded became unacceptable, another term took it’s place and has adopted as an insult.

    Similarly, the word “dumb” used to mean a mute.

    It isn’t the word itself that is the issue but the intent behind it.

    South Park, of all places, tackled this issue with an episode about bikers and the word “fag”, showing how the use of that particular word has changed over time whilst not staying specific to any group.

    It’s a complex issue, which is why I try to avoid it by tailoring my insults to the person involved.

    Or calling them a twatwaffle, which is simply too fun to say.

  • this annoys me

    just because i say things are gay, that makes me homophobic?

    look honey, this is the internet, way worse stuff than people saying “gay” happens, you cannot control the internet.

    when people use “gay” they don’t mean it in any way disrespectful to homosexual’s, why focus on something which people mean no harm in using, and try stop racism or sexism on the internet?

    but you can never change a thing, because for as long as the internet is anonymous, there will always be some racist of sexist or homophobic guy who will just flame people…

    okay, so basicly, i see your point, but there is no way you can change anything.

    • Thats rubbish.

      There is a way that you can change it. If everyone on Kotaku or even just Mark says that certain sexist racist or homophobic remarks are unacceptable, then those comments will not be posted. If people then think about why those comments are inappropriate then they might consider not using it in other situations like on xbox live or psn.

      It is a cop-out to say you can’t change things.

      • my point is that people are dickheads, and they will always be dickheads, and when people tell them to not be dickheads, they’ll be even bigger dickheads, and the internet is a place for them to be dickheads and not have to face any conseqeunces of just how much of a dickhead they are

  • The very first sentence of this article is the most important. Words do evolve, not always in their structure, but constantly in regards to their meaning.

    It’s this evolution of words and language that, in my opinion, invalidates the arguements that Sanya is trying to make.

    Through the decades, words are going to mean different things. Fifty years ago, “gay” meant to be happy and carefree. Twenty years ago, “gay” turned into a homosexual slur.
    What does it mean today, in respect to the context that gamers use it in?
    In my opinion, it’s just a generic word or insult. It’s not a homophobic term in that context, it’s more just an bland insult with no real meaning behind it – or it has a variety of meanings, none of which directly correlate to a slur against ones sexual preference or to the individual being happy or carefree.

    Gamers could give the word “gay” a new meaning. Or they could stop using it, and better articulate their language.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d rather get called “gay” and shrug it off than have some truly horrific insults thrown my way.

    • I completely agree, except that in this case the words have multiple meanings, within and outside the groups that use it.

      Gamers – for the most part – don’t, I think, mean any offense to gay people when they use ‘gay’ as a generic insult. But in wider society this link definitely exists, even if it’s unconscious. There’s an assumed implication, acknowledged or not, that ‘gay’ is ‘a bad thing’. So long as the dual meaning exists this link is going to be made, and there are far better words out there to use.

      • Yes, the dual meaning does exist. But for how long will it exist?

        If Gamer’s stop using the word “gay”, you could argue that it’s letting the homophobic crowd win. It’s almost like an acknowledgement that the word “gay” is a bad word, and shouldn’t be used.

        Is that the message that gamers as a community want to help perpetuate?

        From what I see, in gamers using this word, they are contributing to an effort to evolve the word even further.
        Who knows? In another few decades years, we could be reflecting back on how the word has changed as such…

        – Happy Or Carefree
        – Slur towards homosexuals
        – Generic word for undesireable person/situation
        – An acknowledgement of someones superior position or skill
        – A small object of indeterminate nature.
        – A sickly Shetland Pony.

        Who knows? No one. But I can put forward the proposition that if gamers stop using the word “gay”, then we may be stunting its eventual evolution in meaning.

        • The point is, though, that it’s not ‘evolving’. The word hasn’t morphed from meaning ‘homosexual’ to meaning ‘bad’.

          It means both, simultaneously, but in different contexts, because they’re linked in meaning.

          ‘Gay’ wouldn’t be used in gaming slang if it didn’t already have another meaning as ‘homosexual’. The newest meaning of the word doesn’t replace the old, it draws from it.

          I don’t think anyone is suggesting ‘gay as homosexual’ is a negative use of the word. It’s a commonly accepted noun. But when gamers use it to mean bad or stupid, they’re linking – intentionally or otherwise – the two meanings. It’s an implicit inference that ‘[X] is gay, gay is bad, therefore [X] is bad.’

  • In my opinion its use has diminished over time. Probably a natural evolution as the average age of gamers increases.

    Same with how popular insults during the days of CS beta and Warcraft 2 like “nerd virgin’ or ‘Im not 1337 because I have a girlfriend’ etc have pretty much become irrelevant.

  • Or fag, that’s pretty insulting. In a community where terms like ‘eat a bag of dicks, motherfucker’ are common, i think we can tolerate this behaviour.
    Just my opinion..

  • Using “gay” might be innocent enough, (after all it’s the intention behind words that’s the offensive thing, not the words themselves) but it’s validating a very harmful attitude – that being gay is a bad thing. The general attitude is “NO NO NO I’M NOT GAY!!!…not that there’s anything wrong with that.” You see it on TV all the time. Every time you freak out about someone potentially thinking you’re gay, you’re essentially saying there IS something wrong with it. And using the word gay as an insult is just contributing to the problem. So, despite your intentions, is it worth using the word? No. Just pick a different insult, there are plenty of better ones to choose from.

  • In saying that, it also springs to mind that South Park episode when they call the Harley riders “fags”
    Everyone thinks they are being mean to homosexuals, but they don’t see the word as that. So is it really an insult to homosexuals? Should they themselves feel like people are offending them?

  • Words are simply that: words. Context is everything. Typical moron here standing on her soapbox and complaining about the status quo. Yawn. It’s not going to change, so why do people bother getting worked up about it when they are powerless to re-engineer the communication of an entire demographic? That’s just gay. Sanya is an absolute loser, and to offset her censorship of the word “gay”, I will use it twice as much in my daily communication.

    • But isn’t “lame” insulting to people who have pain when they move? i.e. the original definition? 😉

    • lame
      –adjective
      1. crippled or physically disabled, especially in the foot or leg so as to limp or walk with difficulty.

      So you’re attacking disabled people now?! Oh the horror! I’m never coming back to Kotaku again!

      😛

  • Word meanings change. It wasn’t that long ago that gay meant happy and carefree. South park had a great episode on this issue a while ago.

    • I’m with you on this. Language is fluid. The word wasn’t always used to describe homosexual, so why can’t it change again?

      However

      • Gah! Didn’t finish my comment.

        My point is that just because *I* don’t make the association between homosexuals and the thing I’m calling bad or crap, it doesn’t mean that it won’t be inferred as a derogatory slur.

        And personally I’m not so stubborn that I’m going to keep using it and telling LGBT people to ‘get over it’

  • Jim: What did you just call me?
    ‘Core’ Gamer Griffin: I thought that was your name.
    Jim: That is our word. You have no right to use it.
    ‘Core’ Gamer Griffin: Hey hey hey, Im cool, Im cool, no problem!
    [pause]
    ‘Core’ Gamer Griffin: So, could you pass me the oar, g-word Jim?
    Jim: Thank you.

  • I think that homosexuality is contemptible though, so my use of “gay” in these situations is entirely consistent.

    lol when this comment isn’t published.

  • its like the south park episode where they change the meaning of the word f*g, to mean annoying idiots.
    the statement what to you say to someone who cut you off, oh you F** you are not referring to the orientation but the fact they are annoying.
    people need to realise language changes, it was not that long ago that the word gay meant happy. hell I could be saying a change or weapon is happy. so if it is going to be a big deal then I reclaim the word for the Happy team, and the GLBT community can have i don’t know woozlewozzers.

  • I dunno…I never use it myself but maybe the homosexual community shouldn’t take these things so seriously.

    For example I do a lot of snooping and scoping before I even start to buy something because I want to look for the best bargain…My friends say to me “dude that’s so asian” the implication being asians are cheap bastards. I don’t get offended even though I’m asian.

    If we’re at a Chinese restaurant, and my Caucasian friend orders sweet and sour pork with fried rice, I say “man, you’re so white” . He doesn’t get offended.

    I know people can argue that its not entirely the same but the PERCEPTION of using the insult gay, asian, or white here is the same. Try swapping the two examples I gave above with “gay” instead of “asian” or “white” and it means the same thing.

    Even my gay friend uses the word “gay” in this way. I tease him for it too but hei, sometimes when you move beyond tolerance to acceptance, you don’t even see the slightest bit of malice in these things.

  • The biggest mistake is assuming that someone who says the word “gay” in a negative context is homophobic. It’s just compounds the problem. I can say “f*ck” in both a positive and negative light and in neither one am I referring to the act of sexual intercourse.

    “… you’re basically saying to every kid who is LGBT or questioning that his or her kind isn’t really welcome in your community…”

    This is what really angers up the blood for me. Seriously, this sort of over reaching generalisation and assumption crap really pisses me off. If that’s what I was basically saying then I would have basically freaking said it. If people want to really read into what other people say on the internet, fine. If you do, you’re an idiot. If you’re a little hazy on what you think someone means, ask them like a normal human being instead of making these huge assumptions. It makes you look like an idiot.

    “Hey guy, do you actually have a problem with homosexuals?” If they do, then they’re an idiot. If they don’t, well now you know. Odds are you’re the idiot for thinking so. Perhaps there’s an even deeper problem here. (i.e. the constant need to assert your sexuality and assume that everyone thinks less of you for your choice)

    “All you have to do is say that you will not permit one of your customers to call another one of your customers a faggot.”

    How about bans for ANY form of derogatory insults, regardless of their etymological foundations?! Why does it need to attack a sub-group/culture before it’s considered unacceptable?

    TL;DR – What I’m “basically saying” is Sanya Weathers is an idiot.

    • I think the point of the article is that if you want to insult someone you should use a word that isn’t also a backhanded (even if not particularly intended insult to someone else.)

      If someone was being a Dick and I said “man you are being such a Jon Tree”. If everyone in that community knew that was an insult would you feel welcome?

      If your argument is I’m not homophobic so it is ok for me to use the word gay, because everyone else does it too. That doesn’t stand up to scrutiny for me.

      • An insult is by DEFINITION back handed. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a socially acceptable insult (because apparently that’s what this debate is about) that doesn’t have a tainted history.

        Someone brought up the word “lame” earlier which is as far as I am aware 100% acceptable, yet the dictionary definition refers to a disabled person. Explain to me the difference between this and the countless others and I’ll be willing to admit this argument isn’t totally bogus.

        I can see it now…

        “Hey what do you think of this t-shirt?”
        “Pfft. That’s so lame.”

        Then Hillary Duff shows up to lecture everyone on how using the term lame makes disabled people cry.

        • Sorry if my misplaced bracket caused some confusion but an insult isn’t by definition backhanded. I can say to someone “You are ugly”. That is a direct Insult.

          Calling someone or something “gay” can be used as an insult AND can also be interpreted as offensive to Gay people. The second part is the backhanded part. The indirect party that is insulted.
          That was what my “Jon tree” example was about, it would be intended as an insult to the person but would also be a backhanded insult to you.

          While Lame is a word in a similar situation to gay I think the difference is that people don’t usually label themselves as Lame. People don’t say I’m part of the Lame community. People do say I’m part of the gay community or just I am gay. I don’t know if that is a good enough justification for you but that is how I see it. You don’t have to use lame either thou.

          Finally as for a socially acceptable insult I can think of lots, but lets just go with Shithead. (Or any body part joined to a swear word works really)

          • Ah so we’re getting to the root of the problem now.

            I think disabled people don’t refer to themselves as lame because it would be counter-productive in the grand scheme of things. Lame is more commonly used as a negative adjective rather than to refer to disabled people. Disabled people don’t take offence to us calling things lame because they know we’re not referring to them EVEN THOUGH it could be easily interpreted as such.

            As has been mentioned in this thread, not ALL gay gamers take offence. On the contrary, there are some that prescribe to the example I posted above.

            While we’re generalising, why haven’t any women come along and complained about me calling Sandy WhatsHerFace an idiot? She’s a woman, so obviously me calling her an idiot is an insult to the entire kingdom of Womania…

          • Difference between “gay” and “lame” is that the lame person is suffering from a disability/accident and the gay person is perfectly healthy.
            (I’m aware that there are certain communities who believe gay people need to be “cured” but that is a different discussion.)

  • From the article: “When you ask one of these kids why he said “gay” when what he meant was “stupid” or “contemptible,” most of the time he’ll just blink at you.”

    I think this pretty much nails it. The word isn’t used out of malice so much as it’s used out of ignorance; it’s become so entrenched in the language of some gaming circles and forums that it’s almost used subconsciously.

    That being said, the word is only being used to mean ‘bad’ or ‘stupid’ because people who make that link still exist. It’s not enough to claim that the meaning of ‘gay as stupid’ is far removed from ‘gay as gay’. Whether they mean it or not – and the vast majority surely don’t mean it – people who use that word in that way are making this implication.

    Regarding ‘taking back words’ as an act of defiance, that never really made much sense to me. An insult is an insult, and self-adopting it doesn’t make it any less of an insult. The onus is on people using the warped ‘gay as bad’ meaning to realise the power of their own words; I’m not going to pretend to be happy or empowered by a word that has a double meaning, one of which is ‘contemptible’.

    • You know the more I think about this and read the other comments, the more this seems to lead down a long PC slope. How many of the words that we use to insult someone have roots in personality/intellectual/physical differences? Where do we draw the line?

      • I’ve thought about this a fair bit, actually. I don’t particularly accept the concept of ‘PC’, partly because I think it’s so often used by people wailing at the modern world and unwilling to examine their own prejudices (and that definitely isn’t aimed at you, AP!)

        I think it’s fairly similar to the huge decline in the use of the words ‘spastic’ and ‘retard’ as insults in the last, say, two decades. Kids were taught that it was insensitive; they found better words to use (‘stupid’).

        There’s a huge amount of insults I wish didn’t exist (even something like ‘ranga’, although I have brown hair), and in a perfect world I’d hope nobody would use them. I certainly try not to myself.

        I don’t think it’s so much a slope of political correctness as it is an effort to get people to think about what they say more carefully. An insult based on linking something that someone can’t change – hair colour, ethnicity, appearance, disability, sexuality, whatever – with being ‘bad’ (or some other negative adjective) is never a nice word to use.

        • Good points, food for thought.

          Reading over some of these comments I think it’s time for me to re-evaluate the way I use some words in anger or insult. I think taking some of these words for granted without thinking of the implications behind them may no longer be the way to go.

        • Slightly relevant.

          I actually enjoy using the word “ranga”, simply because it is another of those words that are inherently fun to say. Then again, I’m not one to use something like that maliciously, it’s always as an affectionate tease.

          On the other hand, I did call a guy who was dating a redhead “Moses” once.

  • I described something as ‘gay’ once on this very blog and was attacked by homosexual posters who took offence. It was an offhand remark but I didn’t have any particular malice towards homosexuals behind it.

    However, I still use the word occasionally, in a derogative manner to deem something shit, but only in a private context (ie. between my girlfriend and myself at home).

    A word is a word. But its really the context that its used in that truly gives it meaning. Just be aware of that context though.

    Although, my use of this word was probably derived from my school days at an all-male boarding school where being non-hetero was the fastest way to getting yourself ostracized.

  • Why are they pinning the blame on just gamers here I think that is very unfair, take a step out into the world and you’ll see every 15 year old, hell even some young adults gamer or not use gay as a derogatory word on a regular basis. I think if people want to stop seeing gay being thrown around as it is now efforts need to be focused on society as a whole and not just laying blame on us easy targets.

  • gay
    n adjective (gayer, gayest)
    1 (especially of a man) homosexual, relating to or used by homosexuals.
    2 dated light-hearted and carefree.
    3 dated brightly coloured; showy.
    n noun a homosexual person, especially a man.

    DERIVATIVES
    gayness noun

    ORIGIN
    Middle English: from Old French gai, of unknown origin.

    USAGE
    Gay meaning ‘homosexual’ is the term preferred by homosexual men to describe themselves, and is now the standard accepted term in English. As a result, the centuries-old other senses of gay meaning either ‘carefree’ or ‘showy’ have largely dropped out of natural use.

  • Saying “words change meanings” is such a cop out. The word is an insult because of the attitude that homosexuality is gross, just like “nigger” is an insult because of the attitude that being black is bad. You could use the fluid language excuse for any word, that doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful to use it.

      • Yes, on a small scale, but when you have a huge group of people using “gay” daily as a synonym for “bad”, it contributes to the idea that being gay is bad.

  • Interesting article that does question my use of “gay”. I still maintain though that there really is a way to use it with the evil context. On forums and such, its hard because you cant get a sense of body language or tone of the person speaking, which plays a massive part in the use of that word. I probably would refrain from using it in a forum or text based communication, because of the lack of tone and context. I could emote if I were to speak to them face to face, and show them that I mean no dis-respect to them. I would be interested to hear what Gay people though of us straight people using the word, do they mind?

    • I think it depends on the context.

      If by ‘straight people using the word’, you mean as a negative adjective? Or just in general?

      I haven’t met anyone who has a problem with the definition of ‘gay’ as ‘gay’. But I certainly have a problem with it being used as ‘bad/stupid’. Even though it’s obvious no disrespect is meant, the implication is still really unfortunate.

  • About half my mates I hang out with all the time are either gay or bisexual, and they use the word in that context far more than I do.
    I wish people would stop being so overly sensitive.

  • This is one of those situations where you have to be careful of privilege, I think. It’s very easy to sit back and say, “I’m not offended, therefore it’s not offensive”, but that’s an easy thing to do if you aren’t in the other person’s shoes.

    In Australia we don’t have a constitutional right to free speech, but even if free speech did apply, there is such a thing as tact, empathy and discretion, and a right isn’t an imperative. I have also heard many people defending their right to be offensive, but I confess I don’t understand how being a little more sensitive makes the game less fun.

  • Semiotics – post-structuralist theories of de saussare + Derrida. A sign is a combination of signifier and signified but these signifiers and signified are each in turn signs consisting of a signifier and signified. Thus meaning is constantly deferred. thus there is no inherant meaning in the word ‘gay’.

  • Language is, has and always will be about context. It’s not a cop-out, it’s simply how we communicate. Being ‘offended’ is part and parcel to the act of communication and the simple truth is that there’s nothing wrong or evil about being offended – communicate how you feel clearly, perhaps set some ground rules with those you communicate with, but don’t expect these rules to be universal; that’s just arrogance.

    The flip-side is that, yes, context is king, but the use of some loaded words can still produce a negative effect on individuals despite a lack of its original malicious intent. Thankfully as a large community we have the option of cultivating those we choose to play with and often in the worst-case we have the option of muting/ignoring someone should they offend you.

    Could the community as a whole drop the use of loaded words? Sure, but they’re ingrained in to the culture and ultimately freedom of expression is going to trump the potential to offend. Political correctness seeks to silence what it can’t control; it’s a poor way to move forward as a society and individuals are far better off using their freedoms to make changes where they can without expecting others to see the world as they do.

  • The fact that the word’s meaning has changed at least once already has already been brought up in previous comments. What I find really odd when discussing words like “Gay”, “Queer” or “Fag” is that somehow people can think that they have ownership of the word (there seems to be a common conception that these are homosexual’s words now, and their meaning has been changed at the whim of “their” people).

    Incoming pun intended: I think that anyone getting upset over the use of “gay” as a derogatory term is just butthurt. It wasn’t “your” word, it never was, and now it’s still not “your” word and other people are using it how they like to express what they want to express.

    I don’t want to discount the fact that some people will/are still using them to degrade people for their sexual orientation/gender choice/whatevers, but I also think that the words are losing more of their “meaning” day by day.

    There’s probably also a deeper pyschosophical(psychological? philosophical?) analysis (tee hee, anal) to made in regard to the desire for members of the GLBT community to be considered equal members of society yet want to cling onto words and definitions that distinctly set them apart, but that’s a discussion for a different type of website I think. (Since I think I’m going to have to clarify this statement let me just say I don’t go around and introduce myself as “Hi, I’m Matt and I’m Straight”; it means I’ve had to politely turn down advances once or twice, but it hasn’t killed me).

    • It’s an interesting discussion.

      I think the idea that ‘the meaning has changed’ would be a stronger argument if there was a clear distinction and break between the meaning ‘gay as gay’ and ‘gay as bad’.

      There isn’t. The meanings coexist and often overlap.

      When people use ‘gay’ to mean ‘stupid’, it isn’t instantly shorn of its roots as ‘gay as gay’. There’s a link, intended or otherwise. There’s no big gulf between the meanings.

      So long as that link exists, there are better words to use.

      • Agreed, and perhaps this puts the onus back onto the “rest of scoiety” to pick up their game. If we remove segregation is there a reason for those previously fringe groups to continue segregating themselves by defining themselves as “not everyone else”? It’s not to say that we should live in a world without definition, but if people are continually trying to use definitions as a barrier, well that’s just being selfish – and then I’ll use “their” words however “I” like, if it offends them then they can remain in their walled off compounds.

        Also, since we’re very likely living during the gradual change in the definition of both these words and societal views/opinions of people’s choices, it probably makes things a lot harder to define. Give it another 40-50 years and who knows what the accepted definition for gay will be?

  • “that’s gay!” has replaced “that sucks”. it’s used in the way you call something “lame”. when compared to terms like “faggot” i don’t see it as being that offensive, nor is it meant to be even if it is. its like the term “straight” or “white” being used to mean bland or boring – you could take it as an insult but why would you. actual specific bullying is a much bigger problem and is more deserving of focus.

  • Some people seem to be missing the point.
    The problem is not that the word “gay” is a derogatory term for homosexuals. It’s an acceptable term for homosexuals.
    The problem is that it is being used as a derogatory term in general (implying that being homosexual is deplorable).
    It’s like using the word “Jew” as an insult.

    Funnily enough, I saw this article tweeted by Mark, and above it was a timely example:
    http://bit.ly/q3mPFn
    Someone else took notice:
    http://bit.ly/qBra0O

    The “Language Evolves” argument is a cop-out.
    Can I justify using the term “Jew” as an insult, by claiming that I’m merely evolving the language?
    Perhaps in the future the word “gay” will lose its current meaning and homosexuals will identify with another word, but is it really that difficult to avoid using it as a derogatory term until then?
    Let someone else evolve the language.

    • The way I see it, the problem is that homosexuality is seen negatively.

      If the gay community was to adopt another word to refer to themselves, odds are that word would eventually become used as an insult. Much like with “retard” and other terms to refer to those with mental development issues (even the word “special” is used as an insult).

      It isn’t the use of the word but the attitude of those using it. Or in other terms, it is a symptom, not the problem.

      • Just to be clear, I don’t use gay as an insult nor do I think it is reasonable to do so. It implies a negative view of homosexuals because whilst the language evolves it only means something when society moves on.

        People used to think having children out of wedlock was a problem, which is why bastard is an insult. Even non-derogatory uses of the word still come from that same idea.

        If people didn’t still harbour negative views about homosexuals, then using gay as an insult is a fine evolution of the language. Simply a relic of out-dated views.

  • The comments on articles such as these always scare me a little. But, I guess people don’t like being called homophobes (or anything negative really, eg racist, pirates, criminals). And people tend to argue, rather than admit to flaws and seek out betterment and change.

    Regardless of whether the object of your insult is in fact homosexual, the word ‘gay’ has negative connotations which are propagated by its use.

    The word is an insult because people used it to deride homosexuals. Regardless of what you mean, ‘gay’ can still mean homosexual. So using the word to mean something negative, is strengthening the existing link.

    I would urge people to stop arguing, and consider that the word that they are using (with no intent to deride homosexuals) is deriding homosexuals. Please, try to use a different word.

    • “Regardless of whether the object of your insult is in fact homosexual, the word ‘gay’ has negative connotations which are propagated by its use.”

      That sentence should be:
      Regardless of whether you are insinuating that the object of your insult is a homosexual, the word ‘gay’ propagates negative connotations with use.

      I got a little too caught up in the sound of my own voice.

    • Also, my comment ignores all the positive comments in here. Sorry about that. The opposing arguments to this debate tend to cause me some frustration.

  • Me and my LAN party regulars are guilty of this, and I had never really given it a second thought until reading this article. While we do say these words in a derogotory fashion (e.g. nice death fag; eat a dick loser), there is no real malice behind them and they are probably even closer to being terms of endearment in that they are insults that you only trade with your closest mates.

    The use of the words is not based on our perception of homosexual individuals (we have friends who are that way inclined) but from the fact that the term is so stereotypical/absurd that its a bit of a mockery of both the insult and the person receiving it. We also use other stupid stereotypical slurs including racial ones (nigger, jew) – and whilst we wouldn’t dare say anything like this in public where its meaning could be mis-interpreted, in our own little LAN language its the norm, and there is no malice meant towards the racial/sexual identities that the names stem from.

    tl;dr – I believe a word is only as strong as the intent, or percieved intent behind it. A small, tight-nit group can easily get the tongue-in-cheek meant by a stupid slur, however the meaning can be lost and mis-interpreted in larger groups (i.e guilds) or in public.

    • Yeah, I think this is a good point.

      Tongue-in-cheek or ironic references can often be mistaken for being serious. I don’t think anybody would have a problem with the use of racial/sexual slurs when it’s obvious that it’s deliberately being over the top.

  • We do use it too much. It’s not easy to come into gamer culture when your self identified sexuality is an insult to people. No matter how many people think it’s “just a word” it still drives people away. Same with raped, stupid kitchen jokes. Gamers love to drive anyone not Cis, White and Male out of their games then complain about the lack of girls/diversity/innovation.

  • I hate to say it, but realistically isn’t this just people over reacting to the use of the word and being offended by it? some people may be offended by other terms and not this one, and you can’t really make a law about offending people because everyone has their own opinions

    • Actually their are laws about offending people. Lots of them:

      Indecent exposure, Disorderly conduct, Slander, Anti-discrimination laws. I’m sure there are a few more.

      People need to be less apathetic and think a little about implications of what they say. It doesn’t mean you limit free speech, but that you consider what you are saying before you say it.

      If you want to say something negative and think gay is an acceptable term to do it you can, but it is better if you chose to do it rather than it being a default response.

  • Of course, it does complicate matters when young homosexuals happily refer to themselves as “gay” or “a faggot” on Facebook.

  • I casually used the word on Twitter and some dude blasted the crap put of me. It’s made me change my behaviour.

  • Fact. Words evolve. Why is this still an issue so many years on?
    IF when using ‘gay’ one is implying that target is homosexual and therefore ‘bad’ there’s a problem. IF when using ‘gay’ one is simply implying the target is bad, then the word is simply being used differently. As was said by someone else, do you really, really take offense when someone calls something lame? Do you even think about someone who can’t walk?

    Perhaps when you use ‘gay’ you are implying the former, that’s cool, don’t use it then, but not everybody associates their usage in the same way.
    Furthermore why does no one have this problem with using ‘fat’ as an insult? Fat is quite clearly used in the context of the former, back in my schoolyard days, only my fat friend was ever put down with “fatty” or some such in a derogatory way, but we were all called gay, even by friends, and it had nothing to do with sexual inclinations.

    In response SyvRaen, as much as you’d like to, you can’t control the constant evolution of language, that is indeed how the word was derived, but that doesn’t mean it is still used with that implication, if we were to follow your suggestion, better not use the word lame, or how about sucks? You see they both have other meanings too, as does blows, fat and dumb, hope you don’t use any of those words lest you be a hypocrite.

    • I have to disagree, respectfully.

      The meaning of ‘gay as bad’ isn’t detached at all from ‘gay as gay’. They’re inextricably linked. One wouldn’t exist without the other. It’s not an evolution of language when the terms exist side by side. In the vast majority of cases people don’t intend it to be offensive or malicious, but there’s a very clear link between ‘gay is bad’ > ‘object X is gay’ > ‘object x is bad’ – even if it’s subconscious or unintended.

      For the record I have a huge problem with using ‘fat’ as an insult, and I don’t think I’ve called something ‘lame’ or ‘dumb’ since I was 12.

      • See where I disagree isn’t that they aren’t linked, it’s that they don’t necessarily remain linked. I agree that what you said isn’t evolution of language. The evolution part is when the word comes into its own. Lame as an example, I really do think you’ll find many children these days that use the word (do kids still use it?) don’t even know the other meaning, despite it still being a valid definition. I know for a fact when i was in school this was the case. While ‘gay’ may not be there yet, in my opinion it’s on the way, granted one example isn’t much but my nephew had no idea that gay meant homosexual, I don’t think he even knew what sex was, yet he still used it (not saying I approve of the language) for him gay had no link to homosexuality, let alone an inextricable one.

  • I’m not going to stop using it. It’s all about context, it does have a different meaning depending on whether you are refefering to homosexuals, happy people or a reference to stupid.

    Like someone said about using the word “lame” it has a different meaning that if you want to apply the same motive could be hurtful to others.

    Faggot is a buddle of sticks but we can’t use that anymore either now. We might upset someone.

    It’s all about context. I say if you have a problem with it let it go. The gays should stop being so gay about this issue.

    See what I did there 🙂

    • Yep. I see what you did there.

      You justified why you shouldn’t have to change your negative behaviour because it’s “somebody else’s problem.”

      • It’s not negative behaviour because you say it is. In the context it is acceptable. If I were to use it a way to insult a homomsexual, sure them let mne have it, otherwise give the word back it’s original meaning and no one will have a problem.

        • If it is not negative behaviour because he says it is (or I assume because you say it isn’t). If I walk up and slap you in the face and then say “That was justified in context and not negative behaviour” does that make it all right?

          I think you might have another view on the context.

          How about that! two views on one contextual setting…. what to do? what to do….

          • If your going to try and argue, giva a valid analogy. If you were to walk up to me and slap me (someone who you have never meet or seen) there is no other context apart from you being a douche and using physical violence against someone.

            However if we did know each other and you slapped me there could be a perfectly valid reason to doing so. However the person acorss the steet who saw what happened might see it only as an act of violence. But to you and me, we understand the context therefore rather than being an act physical aggression it has it’s place as possibly a playful hit or for a bet or a game or a number of other reasons.

            It’s all about context.

  • there is no meaning in a word. thus the meaning of a word can not evolve or change. meaning is created externally to the sign. this arguement is about the ignorance of the speaker who doesn’t realise that the ‘meaning’ of what they say doesn’t in fact exist. The ‘meaning’ as such is constructed by the external – i.e.’the listener’and culture, as such.

    • You’re arguing semantics, and not overly well at that. Thousands of linguistics would vehemently disagree that language and words do not evolve or change over time. Ironically you’re initial point only supports this, because the words themselves don’t have meaning, they are merely sounds we create, and instead meaning is given to them by us, then there is no reason what we mean when we say a word cannot change. I could say ‘cat’ and mean ‘dog’ if that’s what I’d learned, you might disagree on what this means to you but it wouldn’t make it wrong in terms of meaning, we CAN be talking about the same thing and using different words and vice versa, the problem would be with the communication.

      The possible exception to this is onomatopoeic words, where meaning is derived (more or less) from sound.

  • Sometimes I think the use of a word in context is highlighting a deficiency as expressed by a group’s stereotype (a separate argument).
    So growing up, the comment “You throw like a girl” was aimed at the deficiency in a mate’s ball skills. Is that automatically an attack on all females – Certainly not. Did we all like girls – Absolutely. Can some girls throw brilliantly? – absolutely. Do most highschool girls throw well? No (as a generalised sweeping statement about averages in gender differences).
    The word Gay is used in a similar way when referring to particular tasks that may usually be identified as overly “macho” (FPS games for example). As a heterosexual man with interests in a lot of “softer” things (like arts & baking), the terms girl and gay sometimes get thrown in my direction. They are meant as light hearted ribbing, and I am not threatened nor offended by either. The terms are not being used to denigrate the group (race, gender, sexuality, religion etc) as much as it is to align the receiver with the group’s stereotype. Of course now we can debate the use of sterotypes and associated good and bad attributes… but there is work to do.

    • With all due respect if you were say “You throw like a girl”, regardless of points from both sides of the coin, in front of an individual of the female persuasion, they would most likely be offended on some level.

      As a result I tend to think that statements like this are not made when the potentially offended party is within earshot. Gamers don’t necessarily have such an opportunity when it comes to the use the word ‘gay’. They do play with GLBT people after all, even if they aren’t aware of it.

  • I don’t think it’s used too casually, but I personally say anything and everything under the sun without thought.

    It is my belief that anybody that is so bent up about what they may or may not be IRL that they get upset over some words, that’s their problem.

    I think people need to be less sensitive.

    The less pointless sensitivity being thrown about, the less reactions people will get when particular words are used. The words become general. Nobody cares anymore.

    Win/win.

    Same can be said for gender, racial, sexuality… basically everything. If people stop caring, and exploding every time somebody says something that society has deemed ‘offensive’, we’ll never progress.

    Asking everybody to tip-toe around each other on the off chance they might say or do something ‘offensive’ is pointless, as it’ll never happen.

    • I do get this argument, and I think it works for general swear words. If people aren’t offended by a word, then it loses its shock value.

      However, I also think people should be respectful of those around them. If a word spreads hatred for a segment of the community, maybe you shouldn’t feel all that compelled to use it.

      For me, it’s not so much about offending people, as the fact that it can influence how the community feels about people, and I do think use of the word can ostracise people.

  • I have more problem with the over-used faggot rather than gay, as the term faggot is actually a derogatory term in itself whereas gay is not.

    In saying this I’m not a fan of the use of gay being thrown around the way it is either.

    The word I can’t stand the most online is Raped, and so many people seem to use it, especially on XBL I’ve found.
    When I hear 12yr olds crying out “you got f***ing raped c**t” I wonder if they really know what they’re saying?

    I have a family member and a previous girlfriend who were Raped, so I’m just naturally more sensitive to the topic.

    I feel the online etiquette of some can be pretty awful, i guess that goes with the anonymity.
    Perhaps this is something parents / teachers should be spending more time teaching their children about, might help switch that paradigm.

    It’s all about respect.

  • Okay, so this may be a bit too generalised and not so much about the casual usage of the word ‘gay’ but I honestly think that everyone, gamer or not, should actually start thinking about how they communicate with others. I was playing Burnout Paradise a few weeks ago, doing Freeburn Challenges, and was absolutely floored as to the language that was being used. And it’s these people that give ‘gamers’ a bad name. Do we really need to be hate filled racist and homophobic bigots? The world is cruel enough as it is without us laying into each other the way that we do. “Why can’t we all just get along?”

  • If Homosexual people are offended when a person uses the word gay with another meaning, do happy get offended when people use the word gay to mean homosexual?

  • (in ye olde singing voice and hang on your words paying attention to gay lame and game and sing the rest with haste)……..forget gay, forget lame no-one will care if you use shit in your game

  • To say that words evolve isn’t a reason to use the word “gay” to describe something bad. Sure, the word has evolved, but just saying that ignores the reason *why* it evolved how it got to this point.

    While it once meant carefree or happy, it’s had a sexual/negative connotation for a long time – it was largely used to describe people who didn’t follow the traditional moral code and where carefree (in a bad way) with their behaviour/vices/pursuit of pleasure ect. Calling someone “gay” originally meant they were a bachelor or a prostitute or was hedonistic, and “straight” referred to seriousness and respectability – the latter being the key point.

    The shift to homosexual as a definition has taken a long time and is part of a subtle evolution and the term becoming more specific. But it’s long had two elements: negative and sexual connotations. Now it seems to be dropping one. On one hand, more recently some are using it casually to dismiss the sexual aspect of it, while another community is stripping it of its negative side, the part that says people who are gay are going against the moral code.

    *That’s* why there’s an issue. The word “gay” is evolving in two opposite directions. One group (the group it was used to describe) is claiming the word and taking away its negative implications, a statement of “It’s okay to be this way” (for some, of course; others may not particularly care). The other is removing its sexuality altogether. Saying “words evolve, get over it” is a gross oversimplification that completely ignores context (and is maybe a touch over-defensive defensive too?). Both groups need to be sympathetic to the other’s interests and meaning if anything worthwhile is going to come of it. Personally, I associate the word “gay” with homosexuality so I don’t use it to describe something rubbish. If you’re going the other way, fine, just do so with an understanding of the broader context. Doing something carelessly or callously will get us nowhere.

    (The fact that many used “gay” to just mean “bad” while it was commonly accepted to mean “homosexual” *is* also an issue as the insult would have come from the sexuality. But I think the sexuality of the word is so far gone in the gamer scene (a la “fag” on 4chan) that it’s a non-issue on this site, at least in this discussion. Still, I’d say it’s worth remembering.)

    • I think this is spot on, in the sense of diverging meanings.

      But the other usage of the word (in a non-sexual context) isn’t stripped of subtext; it’s not a neutral statement. It has very clear undertones that link it to the [i]other[/i] meaning, even if people don’t intend it.

      Stripping the word of its sexual meaning doesn’t render it as a convenient catch-all phrase for something ‘bad’ or ‘stupid’.

      • Agreed. And it will probably never lose that subtext, despite people wanting it to. It’s such a loaded word that it’ll never attain neutrality, or become a catch all. It’s part of what makes its evolution interesting, I suppose, and the reason I stopped using the word to describe something bad. I was too uncomfortable with what it insinuated about homosexuality.

        Most words carry a lot of baggage but if people don’t know about it, its subtext becomes increasingly irrelevant. While I don’t see this happening with “gay”, it does stress the importance of making sure people *know* what they’re saying.

    • The problem here is the assumption that there are groups, and that the meanings are mutually exclusive. I hate to bring up the lame example again, but I can both use lame to mean crippled, AND use it to mean, for lack of a better word, ‘crappy,’ without the two being connected. One word can mean multiple things dependent on context. “He is lame,” when targeted at the person with a 0-10 score in whatever game has a different meaning than when targeted at the person with no legs, despite the identical sentence.

      I realise this is slightly more tricky in the case of ‘gay’ because being a homosexual is both not something easily visible and still has negative connotations among a great many people. BUT so did lame centuries ago, being lame in a time when physical activity was paramount to survival was a negative thing, it’s less so now. I suppose the problem here is some people, at least in this day and age are going to use the word as a derogatory term for homosexuals, but that’s not my point, I’m merely saying that the meaning we ascribe to words can change and words can have multiple meanings separate from each other regardless of their roots.

  • Im not gay but i do enjoy a golden gaytime.

    What makes the ice-cream innocent and refering to how ‘gay’ your day might be highly offensive.

    Some might even say that continuing this argument is ‘gay’ meh

  • im amazed that everyone is ignoring nearly 100 years of the specific literary theory and philosophy of ‘meaning’- to make their own awkward points. now im succumbing.

    • By all means enlighten us. I haven’t studied semiotics or cultural theory, but if you want to explain it that’s fine.

      Foucault’s discourse theory would say that clashing discourses reflect differing power relations and the politicisation of knowledge. He might be right 😛

      • See one of my previous posts on this thread for the basic post-structuralist semiotic spiel. Foucalts theories certainly come into play when talking about ‘reclaimation of language’ in terms of the homosexual culture and the words we are talking about. 😉 anyway what about the word YANK? as in a US citizen. It derives from the term ‘septic tank’. Now thats offensive.

  • the word ‘nigger’ has always confused me. In the way that if it is such a insulting word to black people why do they use it? In television/film they go crazy on anyone not of their ethnicity using the word but they themselves casually throw the word around at each other. (I do not live in america so have no experience regarding this)

    its offends me that they say ‘you can’t use that word, only we can use that word.’ and this would apply to the word ‘gay’ as well

    I do not like gay people but I tolerate them. I do not go around committing hate crimes against them or try to suppress their rights like ‘gay marriage’ if they want to do it fine, just don’t invite me. but if I want to use the word gay in a derogatory manner then it is my right. you don’t have to listen and you don’t have to be around me.

    I can accept it IF all insults are banned but if you’re only targeting homophobic insults then that really is a perverse justice.

  • i use to word gay to describe something that i dont like or am unhappy with. this is because the real meaning of the word gay is happy so the whole joke is to say something is gay that im unhappy with. not happy with.

    just like we use the word “sick” or “wicked” to describe something that is awesome. both words real meaning is something negative.

    political correctness has gotten totally out of hand in recent years. like “baa baa black sheep” being changed to “baa baa rainbow sheep” because for some unknown reason saying that a black sheep is black is somehow racist. if it wass “baa baa white sheep” would there be an issue

    when will it end.

    people need to stop taking a words meaning so literally. unless someone is directly attacking someone by calling them a homosexual in a derogatory way.

    personally i will continue to use the word gay as i have been doing so for years and its never had anything to do with homosexuals.

    people cant claim a word as theirs and then take offence if its used by others for what they assume is a derogatory slur to them. in some cases, yes it is but so are many many other words.

    gay needs to go back to meaning happy. then there wouldnt be an issue. and gay people can just be homosexuals. then we’ll have no confusion 😛

  • Lets just place all the nasty words inside some cotton wool and it will all be ok 🙂 seriously any word can be taken out of context and used for slander. This is a day and age when things are taken out of context but also taken far too seriously. As my mother used to tell me ‘have some decorum’

  • I don’t support discrimination against non-heterosexual people. However, when people use the word “gay” in a gaming context, I don’t think they’re attempting to mean “homosexual” (or “exclusively same-sex attracted”).

    I think that by “gay” they’re attempting to mean “weak, pathetic and effeminate.” Now, yes, the stereotype that all exclusively same-sex attracted men are weak, pathetic and effeminate does exist and clearly the word’s usage acquired its connotations from that stereotype.

    However, I think that a large number of people have separated the two concepts (i.e. they don’t conflate “exclusively same-sex attracted” with “weak, pathetic and effeminate”) in their mind. Let me give you an example; a friend of an acquaintance is gay (sexually speaking). Said friend also happens to be a very masculine dude, who just happens to like guys and not like girls. Now, someone once said to him “you’re not gay, you’re just a straight guy that likes to have sex with men.”

    Before you burst out into laughter, this statement DOES show a conceptual separation between “only likes to sleep with people of the same sex” and “weak, pathetic and effeminate.”

    Historically, anti-gay discrimination has usually been directed more strongly against those gay men who fit the stereotype of the “flaming effeminate queen.” I think this also backs up my speculation; the object of hatred indicated by the word “gay” (when used by some gamers to describe something they don’t like) is not homosexuality, but rather effeminacy/weakness.

    Do I personally endorse the use of the word “gay” to mean this? No, and I don’t use it myself. The word has accumulated so much baggage, package-deals and redefinitions that the term is impossible to use precisely; even amongst the self-proclaimed gay community the label is used more as a badge of community affiliation and lifestyle similarity rather than a statement of sexual preference. However, I don’t think the use of “gay” in the manner pointed out by the article is automatically indicative of discrimination against nonheterosexual people.

    • Interesting points.

      If people really [i]do[/i] want to label something as ‘non-masculine’, or weak, why don’t they use the English words that already exist? At best ‘gay’ is a woefully inaccurate description (given your point above about stereotypes), and often it’s interpreted as divisive if not prejudicial.

      I’d wonder, though, if it’s entirely true that every usage of the word ‘gay’ is conflated with ‘weak’ or eschewing masculinity. In cases where it’s just a catch-all for ‘bad’ or frustrating’, isn’t there an argument to be made that a wider conceptual connection is created between the two meanings of the word?

      I do agree, though, that it’s not an automatic indicator of underlying prejudice towards nonheterosexual people, per se.

      • Thanks for your reply. You also raise some good points.

        I agree that the usage of “gay” as synonymous with weak/effeminate/etc. is a suboptimal word choice. However, most people in this world aren’t exactly paragons of precise vocabulary. I’m not attempting to say their usage of “gay” is necessarily good; I’m just saying it isn’t automatic proof (or even particularly strong evidence) of hatred of nonheterosexuals (a point we agree on).

        In the broader context you indicate (usage of “gay” as a catch-all term for anything bad, frustrating or annoying) then you do have a point regarding potential prejudice. However, I still think that in those cases, at least some people will have a conceptual separation between “exclusively same-sex preferring” and “disappointing” or “bad.” Is it fair to say this connection probably formed due to hatred of nonheterosexual persons at the cultural level? Yes. But does it imply that each individual using the word “gay” in that context shares said hatred? I don’t think so.

  • It always amuses me when I see people say “I have gay friends, so it’s OK to use the word gay in a derogatory manner”. Associating with people in some demographic doesn’t mean that you cannot cause offence when using slurs against that demographic, even if the particular people you know are not offended by it.

    Use of the word ‘gay’ in a negative sense is a problem not only within the gaming community, but the community at large.

    People keep bringing up the point that words evolve, and so it’s all OK. That’s ridiculous. In some cases, yes, words no longer mean what they once did and their use is acceptable. However, as many people have pointed out, ‘gay’ still refers to homosexuality.

    Use of ‘gay’, then, associates homosexuality with negativity, whether or not it is intended by the user.

    The problem, as I see it, is that the gay community still suffers discrimination (both legal and social) and ostracism on a daily basis. This is not a problem which existed a hundred years ago – it occurs every day at work, in the schoolyard and on the streets.

    Thus, use of the word gay in a negative light can further reinforce this problem. It’s not a problem which existed 50 or 100 years ago and is all but forgotten, it is happening right now. Consequently, I very much dislike the use of the word in the context discussed here.

    At some point in the future, when the gay community is accepted in society and afforded the same rights as anybody else, then ‘gay’ may well lose the implication that homosexuality is bad.

    We’re not there yet.

    • There’s a second, common meaning for Gay FYI – it means happy, usually to an overly exaggerated extent

      • FYI, I’m well aware of that meaning. When was the last time you heard it used in that way?

        I don’t think I ever have, outside very old movies. I’ll bet that most people haven’t, either, and as a result it’s irrelevant to this discussion.

        • I think the only use I know of is in the Flinstones theme song. That was written in 1960.

          The “it means other things” defence doesn’t hold up.

        • I, and most of my family, and recently my girlfriend still use it in this way. I’ve also used it to reference bad things. The one thing I pretty much never use it for is to mean ‘homosexual.’

          In regards to your last comment, no we’re not there yet, but trying to stop people from using language originally is not going to work, and if it did language would become stagnant, which for anyone interested in linguistics would be a horrible horrible thing >_>

  • This article is pretty gay.

    My friends and myself have used ‘gay’ as a general synonym for ‘lame’ for as long as I can remember.

    Here’s a thought though, ‘gay’ has a second meaning, meaning overly happy. Of course, people haven’t used that meaning since Homosexuals adopted the word for their own, but if you can look back to some 1940’s ‘gay’ movies or music… they are actually quite LAME, which would justify the use of the word.

    It’s like how people in the UK say Fag to mean a smoke. Gay is also a nice word to roll of the tounge when you’re in a sarcastic or annoyed mood especially if you roll out the ‘a’ sound.

    IMO, a word is only offensive if it’s intended to be. Case in point would be people swearing or trying to slur you in languages you don’t understand – it’s very easy to tell if they mean offence by how they say the word to you.

    Consider how casually many Australians use the word ‘bastard’, a word that by all means should be horribly offensive (it litearly means someone who’s father abandoned them). Because there is no offensive INTENT behind the word, it just becomes a word.

    TL;DR – people need to stop getting their panties in a bunch over words. Didn’t your mum’s ever teach you ‘sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me’

    • +1 for making me picture a person rolled up in paper and being smoked then laughing loudly at work.

    • Sorry you missed my point, I typed up my last post rather hastily and I apologize for that.

      My two main points were:

      1: Words change depending on the context and

      2: The meaning of words change as time goes by.

      A word is only as offensive as the person saying it intends it to be.

      English is a particularly crazy language (I’m an English teacher so I should know!) that is entirely dependent on context. It’s how someone can be a wise man, but not a wise guy. How ‘fucking hell’ can be uttered in relief as well as anger, how a slim chance and a fat chance are the same.

      Similarly, fifty years ago a ‘queer’ would have been that kid who ate dirt, ‘Victor Charlie’ was the guy who lived down the street, ‘Dyke’ was an awesome comedian and a ‘Honkey’ was the first half of the Honkey Tonk.

      The meaning of Gay has changed. Deal with it

      • See the comment Keeva left in response to your initial remark re: intent. It’s not something you can hide behind, Steve.

        Your two main points are been repeated throughout this discussion before you entered it and I didn’t miss them whatsoever. Everyone knows gay used to mean happy. Everyone knows fag can be used to describe a cigarette. Cool.

        However, I have no idea how you could come to the conclusion that a word is only as offensive as someone intends. Does that mean I can call someone a nigger and say “hey man, I didn’t mean it offensively!” I highly doubt that’s what you’re arguing. A lot of the time offense is a choice – I can choose to get indignant about a slight against me, I can choose to be offended if I hear the word “fuck” in my presence (and I believe that would be a stupid choice), but I can’t justify saying anything because of intent. That’s now how it works at all.

        I’m not having any trouble dealing with fluid meaning of the word gay. I’ve used it before in the context described in this article. Cool. But intent really doesn’t justify much in language, which is where your whole argument falls flat.

        • Actually, I do mean that. I’m sure the sixty billion times per scetence that Dave Chapelle says ‘nigger’, he doesn’t intend for it to be offensive.

          • Cool ignoring most of the points. I’m not Dave Chapelle so that negates that – but it’s funny you should mention him. Didn’t he end up leaving the show because he was getting uncomfortable with the racial content of his material?

  • This article got me wondering, so I asked a couple of my gay friends whether they use the word in that manner too, since I couldn’t specifically remember or not. I got told yes, and also that “faggot” is used without a second thought. Kind of reminded me of that old image that came up when Chris Crocker was a thing

    http://30.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ky9lkrwWc51qa2st8o1_500.jpg

    But getting back on point. I think while the word’s use may have derived from the idea that gay is bad, that meaning isn’t so readily associated with it any more. As others have pointed out, dumb used to just be a word for a mute, but nobody ever thinks of that any more when they call a person that. To them it just means that they aren’t being very smart, no thought is given to how it came from people unable to speak appearing to be less intelligent.

    With gay, it’s the same way. It just means “unacceptably abnormal”, or “not as it should be”. Even if its use had its roots in homosexuality being unacceptable, the association just isn’t readily there without doing a bit of digging first.

    But plenty of people seem to have more or less already said the same thing. So I guess I’ll just sum up with “+1” 😛

    • It’s the same with ‘Queer’. The actual meaning of queer doesn’t have any homosexual connotations to it, yet the way that it has been used (both by homosexuals and non-homosexuals) have given it that stigma.

      Fifty years ago, if you called someone queer it would just mean that they were a pretty strange guy.

      Words are what you make of them, their meanings are constantly changing and evolving. I think that ‘gay’ especially has moved past both it’s original meaning of being excessively overjoyed, to it’s homosexual connotation, to a new beast entirely.

  • I find it hard to empathise with them, simply since the two meanings popped up around the same time. Gay as in stupidly happy ergo eventually just stupid, rubbish etc, and gay as in overly happy ergo eventually quirky and then homosexual. I don’t get why homosexuals want to claim the word gay though, wouldn’t it be better to wean the meaning of homosexual off of the word while still keeping it available for mouthy teenagers to use as a cuss word?

    This is my gripe with people from minority groups that try to take everything personally, it just gets messy. They might be disrespected, but at the same time they disrespect the current system and treat it like it has no merits or traditions worth respecting (which obviously isn’t necessarily true).

    • I agree. If homosexual people want people to stop sterotyping them as super camp, overly happy to the point of being stupid, why wouldn’t they stop associating with a word that also happens to mean super camp, overly happy to the point of being stupid.

  • I’m a homosexual gamer and I don’t take any offence to words such as “gay”, as long as it’s used in the right context.

    It is admirable to see so many Kotaku readers trying to reduce this misuse of a potentially harmful word. However, I’m a gamer before I’m a gay man, and I completely understand that when someone says something is gay during gaming, it not meant in a damaging way. Some other gay people, who may not be gamers, may hear the use of the word on a gaming forum and not understand its meaning and be offended by it. And that’s ok. For their sake, perhaps it would be best to limit the use of “gay” in this situation.

    One thing you need to remember is that there are tons of gay people out there, and we all think differently. There is no clear cut answer to this situation because if you asked our opinions, you would get a different response each time.

    Because of this, whoever this Sanya Weathers is does not speak for the gay community. No one can. The only person who can speak for a gay person is the individual themselves. And honestly, I don’t give two shits.

    • Hahaha, you beat me too it… damn comment moderation taking so long XD

      Of course the post where I say “I’ve not seen any LGBT people comment” would come right after another person has said the same thing.

      And yeah:
      One thing you need to remember is that there
      are tons of gay people out there, and we all
      think differently.
      This plus a billion!

    • Thanks for the input Costy! This is the point i’ve been trying to make – English is the biggest bastardized jumble of languages ever to exist, and so it has a lot of crazy words with double meanings, triple meanings, and reverse meanings.

      Everything depends on context.

  • Ok, haven’t seen anyone in this massive wall of text that has actually stated they are LGBT (though it could be there, this is one hell of a wall)…

    As a bi-gamer, I don’t have any issue with gay being used as a slur, because 99% of the time the people who use it are not saying “man, that is soooo two-guys-who-have-intercourse-together”

    While I might be pee’d off by stereo-types in games (i.e., as someone mentioned above, gay = effeminate) and applaud games that have the balls (haha, gay jokes) to actually put realistic homosexual male characters in…

    But harping on about how people use words is kind of pointless to me. I use a lot of these slur-words jokingly with my friends (both gay and straight, and everything in-between), but I certainly take no offense to people using the word.

    Someone who says all faggots should go to hell, well, yeah, I am going to take issue with that, because that IS motivated out of homophobia. Someone who describes something as “totally gay” just really doesn’t bother me one bit…

    • But does it bother you when someone’s saying something is “totally gay” because they hate it or think it’s bad?

      • No, not at all. It doesn’t even register on my radar (gaydar?)

        Maybe I can’t comment (because technically, the moniker gay doesn’t really fit me, being bi), but I know most of my gay and lesbian (and bi and transgender) friends use the words the exact same way as most straight people do.

        I just have never seen it as a big deal. And I have never felt excluded by any community because of the way the word gay is thrown about. I dunno, maybe I just don’t get it…

    • I’m not necessarily offended by it, and it’s clear that in 99% of the way people use it no malice is involved.

      But there are better words out there, and I think if people consider how they use language it can’t be a bad thing.

      Even though the implication isn’t intentional, ‘gay’ came to describe ‘bad’ because someone, somewhere made that association. The adjective isn’t a neutral word with no history attached to it.

    • So you’re totally okay with ‘gay’ being used as a synonym for ‘bad’?
      I’m a bi-gamer, and I do have a problem with it. Oh noes, two warring anecdotes!

  • My name is John and it is commonly referred to as a toilet in other countries. Do you see me going on a rant about how one word is misused and there should be change?
    According to Webster’s Dictionary “gay” meaning homosexuality is ranked 4th behind happiness, inducing high spirits, or brilliant in colour. Its a word that the homosexual community has taken on as their own. I think its time we took the word back. Who’s with me?
    What right does this woman have to tell the largest community in the world (gamers) how they can and can’t speak? Its total utter bollocks, political correctness and high horsedom to the extreme.
    For all the other John’s out there, maybe its time we kicked up a “stink” and got society to stop calling us toilets…

    • Yeah, and while we’re at it, let’s take the word nigger back! And Jew! I’m sick of these minorities co-opting the words we use to discriminate them! I’m sick of only having Mexicans to hate!

  • Hey guys, I don’t know how to say this without sounding patronising…

    But I think it’s awesome that this debate has gone for almost 200 comments and I haven’t had to delete a single one.

    I don’t think that would have happened in any other community on the internet.

    Awesome.

    [please carry on!]

  • I personally have no objection to people using the term “gay”. I have friends who are gay, and they don’t take offense if I use the term in day-to-day life, so I see no reason for me to object to others using it based on the word alone. There are a lot of words out there that have been misappropriated by the LGBT community to refer to their sexual preference, or been misused to refer to them: gay (happy), faggot (a piece of wood), etc. I have been scolded and scorned by people for using these terms in the past in their proper sense, but never by members of the LGBT community. That tells me it is not the term itself that they object to, but it’s use against them. And that means, ultimately, it is a matter of the context in which the term is used. And it is that which we need to be evaluating based on.

    The term gay has now been misappropriated to mean “bad” or “stupid”. That does not mean it is a slight to the LGBT community, as it is not being used in a context that references them. As such, I see no problem with it’s use in this day and age provided that is the context it is being used in.

  • My brother has been playing games from pretty young (maybe he shouldn’t have been…) and for the longest time didn’t actually know that ‘faggot’ was also a synonym for a gay person. He thought it actually meant either the dictionary definition of bundle of sticks, or that it was just something you called people you were being hostile towards.

  • I’m surprised to see this old chestnut again. Trying to get people to change is a Sisyphean effort. How about complaining about the increasing use of the word ‘fag’ as a term for a (obnoxious) enthusiast? As in “apple fag”?

  • Isn’t it interesting how words are perceived and reacted towards differently by the different minority groups? Like it’s okay for black people to call each other “nigger” and for gay people to call each other “faggot” etc
    It’s like our way of dealing with the suffering others inflict and almost cushioning the effect it has when we hear it from people who don’t wish us well. Now that I think about it, if my friends and most other people in the gay community didn’t call each other “fag” and various other slurs, the occassional times that I’ve been verbally abused with my partner out in public would probably have been really hard for us to deal with. It still is hard, don’t get me wrong, but since the word is thrown around so much by people who we love, taking the piss out of it, it seems easier to retort and get back on your feet after a harsh and embarrassing verbal beating in public.

  • Words are amazing. I love words. If I could, my dream job would be an etymologist! I’d wear a brown leather coat and carry a whip and fight Nazis.

    Some words have existed since the advent of language yet their meanings change regularly.

    Had I been an adult in the 1950s, I might have used the word ‘gay’ to describe myself when I’m in a cheerful mood.

    Had I been an adult in the 1980s, I’d have used ‘gay’ in reference someone’s sexual orientation.

    Sadly, I’m an adult from the 2010s and ‘gay’ means both and neither. I accept that ‘gay’ can be used to refer to a happy person. I also accept that the word mutated till it was used to describe homosexuals. The word then became an insult. irrespective of how it happened, ‘gay’ now means ‘lame’ or ‘uncool’. if homosexuals have a problem with that, they can take it up with the dictionary. Words change. If I call someone gay, I’m not accusing them of having sex with men anymore than I am accusing them of being happy.

    • I think you’re oversimplifying the etymology, with respect.

      By far the most widely accepted contemporary usage of the word, at least in conversational or professional English, is to describe people who are homosexual. It *might* mean ‘lame’ or ‘uncool’ for a not-insignificant number of young people, but as it stands both meanings are valid in different contexts. It’s not correct to suggest that the ‘one true meaning’ of the word has irrevocably morphed, inevitably and completely, from ‘happy’ to ‘homosexual’ to ‘lame’.

      And that’s my problem. While the two meanings overlap, calling something ‘gay’ isn’t a neutral term, despite the evident lack of malice in people who use it. It has pejorative roots, a pejorative subtext and significant room for misinterpretation and angst.

      You might have the best of intentions when using the new etymology, but it’s based on an association – perhaps coined 15 or 20 years ago – that ‘gay is bad, we’ll call [x] gay, therefore [x] is bad’. It’s clear that the modern ‘gay’ doesn’t literally mean homosexual, but the negative foundation of the word can’t be discounted. Its use symbolises either that the person seriously associates homosexuality with ‘a bad thing’ (less likely, but who knows) or, more likely, that they can’t be bothered thinking of a more apt adjective – not to mention one without significant social baggage.

      For so long as ‘gay’ is both a signifier and an autonym, using it negatively in an unrelated context is liable to cause confusion if not consternation.

      I’m not attempting to wage a one-person war on modern English, as entertaining as that would be. But it would behoove people to consider using at least a modicum of sensitivity when throwing words around. There exist far more eloquent expressions with both less ambiguity and the evident advantage of not pissing anybody off.

  • Everyone seems to be commenting that the word “gay” has gone from meaning Happy to meaning Homosexual to meaning Lame and that last change is bad… but I’ve never actually seen anyone address WHY the word changed/is changing to mean Lame. I don’t really have a solid idea myself.. the closest thing I can think is that the term refers to extremely effeminate, campy men whom other men feel act in a “lame” way. While using “gay” to mean “lame” in that sense DOES imply a negative feeling of homosexuals, it’s only some homosexuals, and it’s also a stereotype that homosexuals themselves are trying to fight against these days.

    People probably won’t stop using “gay” as an insult until that stereotype of lisping, coifed homosexuals is gone. Trying to fight the word usage itself might be putting the cart before the horse.

  • I was getting directions the other day and I was told to go ‘straight’ down a street.. I was deeply offended. You see, it wasn’t intended as a slur, but when the term ‘straight’ was used with no reference to sexuality, I abstractly found a way to take ownership of the word and apply it to my own identity. I was then able to twist the context of the word and come to the conclusion that the person giving the directions must have been homosexual and be holding a deeply seeded subconscious contempt for heterosexuals.

    I mean, if the direction giver meant that I should ‘continue’ along, or ‘move forward’ down the street then he should have chosen his words more carefully to avoid any potential offense.

    I move that the term ‘straight’ now been deemed offensive in any context. Forum moderators across the globe should unite to stricken it’s use from the internet.

    Poker, motorsport and geometry forums will find it hard at first. Maybe we don’t ban people for using the term, but gently tell them not to use it. Together we can prevail and preserve the feelings of heterosexuals and protect one or two of them from potentially taking the word as a slur. We have to stop tolerating hetrophobia!

    Seriously though, this person and their crusade to remove the term from gaming culture makes them come off as being a bit of a dick. By all means, take action against anyone who is swearing to excess, or is personally attacking someone, but I certainly wouldn’t want to post on any forum where the mods are on some sort of power trip, taking the moral high ground, and telling people how they can and cannot use language.

    If a member of the “LBGT Community” feels the need to call themselves ‘gay’, but then take offense when someone who is not a ‘member’ uses the word in a different context then that is the problem of individual taking offense.

    It’s 2011 FFS, who really cares what your sexual orientation is anyways.

    Honestly, the only thing in life that I truly take offense to, is people who get all offended by stupid things. There are much bigger things in life to worry about than the use of a word on the internet.

    • I’ll just leave this here. It isn’t meant as a personal attack, but when you’re writing from a position of power it’s wise to consider your own privilege. You say it’s 2011 and nobody “really cares what your sexual orientation is anyways”.

      That’s a remarkably rosy picture, but it doesn’t match up with reality.

      http://www.cs.earlham.edu/~hyrax/personal/files/student_res/straightprivilege.htm

      Your remarkably snarky fictional scenario involving the word ‘straight’ would never happen, because the overwhelming social ethos paints heterosexuality and heteronormativity in a positive, assumed and natural light.

      Just food for thought. Again, not a personal attack.

      • Not taken as a personal attack at all..

        I don’t consider myself as a writing anything from a position of power, and I certainly don’t believe my being a heterosexual is in any way empowering.

        Not caring about anther persons sexual preferences might not match many peoples reality, but it matches mine. Although I do accept that there are people who will, I personally don’t think of or treat people any differently to the next person regardless of whether they are gay, straight or otherwise.

        I appreciate the point you are trying to make with the link you provided but I disagree with many of the points listed. Interchange the words ‘sexual orientation’ with any number of things and they can apply to anyone. LBGT people do not have a monopoly on being mistreated due to the ignorance of others. The fact that the list was compiled by straight identifying students making assumptions on what they believe homosexual people are subjected to only lessens its credibility. Should I assume that LBGT people concur with a list compiled by straight people speaking on their behalf?

        I can accept my ‘straight’ scenario may be seen as a little snarky. I was just making the point that if you choose to get worked up over something stupid like the use of a word, then ultimately its you who allows yourself to feel offended or victimised. If I make a decision to take offense to the word ‘straight’, my level of offense is no more or less valid than that of a person, gay or straight, choosing to be offended by the use of the word ‘gay’.. Harassment, or in this case being offended, is not about what is said, but how it is taken.

        You used the word ‘heteronormativity’. I honestly had not heard of the term before. I looked it up on wikipedia and was not surprised to discover that it was a term coined by a person of same sex preference. I found the idea of homonormativity interesting also, and took it to mean that some same sex couples see bi or transexul people to be an impediment to them receiving their rights.

        Maybe I’m guilty of oversimplifying, but it would appear to me that coining terms such as these only serve to strengthen the ‘us vs them’ mentality, no matter where you sit on the perceived pecking order of sexual preference.

        I worked with a guy who identified himself as gay. He would talk about it in such a way that you would think that it was the only thing that made up his identity. He referred to the LBGT community as ‘the family’ and spoke of it in such a way as to make out that it was an exclusive club. He also regularly maliciously referred to hetrosexuals as ‘breeders’. He’d use the term purposely to refer to the a persons sexuality and intended it as a slur. How is this any different to a straight person purposefully using slurs against LBGT people? It’s not, but it is sad that he felt it was necessary.

        Anyways, I think this whole debate is pretty pointless. No one is arguing that LBGT people took the word on to refer to themselves, and no one is arguing that using the term to refer to things as being bad was not originally intended to imply that being LBGT was a bad thing also. Now it would seem that the general consensus is that its usage has gone beyond that and developed to have multiple, yet distinct meanings. Is it worthy of a campaign to have it removed from common use on the internet? I don’t think so.

        • Thanks for replying.

          I’ll concede that there’s an unfortunate ‘us vs them’ mentality among some gay and lesbian people – to the point of using words like ‘breeders’ – but I don’t think it’s as widespread as many would assume. If I had to venture a guess, the mindset is reactionary and in response to marginalisation. It’s easy to respond to contempt and exclusion with more contempt and more exclusion, to the point of speaking about one’s sexuality as a club or a community. It’s an arms race of division, to use an odd metaphor.

          I’d hope that isn’t how we’re perceived in general, and it’s not something I’ve found especially common. I don’t think challenging heteronormativity is especially divisive; it’s pointing out a situation that certainly exists and critiquing the idea of one sexual identity being ‘proper’ or ‘normal’.

          The fact that it was coined by a same-sex attracted person isn’t indicative of much, I don’t think, apart from reaffirming the idea that people outside of the dominant paradigm generally identity its flaws. There weren’t many wealthy imperial critics of postcolonialism, for example, and I doubt that many misogynists would support feminism (well, they don’t still today…).

          At the end of the day there’s a huge range of opinion among LGBT people and I can only offer my own view. I dislike fragmentation based on sexual identity and I’d never put my sexuality before my humanity. In an ideal world sexuality wouldn’t matter a jot, and neither would language or terms, but we’re a long way from an ideal world. It’s not enough to pretend that divisions don’t exist, given that they’re maintained from both sides of the debate. If I had my way I’d abolish the entire lexicon of labels tomorrow.

          I appreciate your point about discrimination being about perception rather than intent, but I’d like to think a reasonable person would conclude that the association between the two meanings is likely to be insensitive at the least. I completely accept that 99% of the people using the word ‘gay’ as an adjective for ‘bad’ don’t intend to cause malice, but a not-insignificant proportion of LGBT people would still find the word’s use annoying and unnecessary.

          I realise that campaigning to change a word’s use is nothing if not Quixotic, but there are honestly better words out there. Challenging its use as a catch-all for ‘lame’ isn’t (I hope) a march of political correctness or even people being insensitive; I’d like to think it’s just a call for people to consider their language and its impacts more carefully.

          tl;dr: Thanks for the reply, I hope people reconsider using the word ‘gay’ as ‘bad’ because there are better alternatives and it’s easier to be sensitive than to try and explain why you meant no offense to someone who was upset.

          • In the interest of letting an old thread die I’ll be brief.. This is an interesting topic of discussion that could go back and forth for ever..

            Bottom line is that I think we are pretty much on the same page here. You are right, there is a huge range of opinion not only among people from all walks of life. Just as there is a varying levels of offense taken by the use of the word ‘gay’ regardless of sexuality.

            I concede that the use of the term may require more thought and sensitivity, but lets remember that we Australians. We live in the only country in the world where total strangers are all ‘mates’ and all your friends are ‘c**ts’!

  • I just got a great idea. I’m gonna start a movement to stop the use of the phrase “Mother [email protected]#$er” in all popular culture and media because it describes my sexual lifestyle in a derogatory fashion and most often with an insulting connotation.

    Stop the Hate, people.

    (actually, this would kill Samuel L. Jackson’s career… maybe I should rethink my approach…)

  • I might have a penis, but that doesn’t mean I’m squeamish about calling someone a prick, dick, cock, or whatever else comes to mind when I’m being one myself.

    Insults all have an abused place of origin. Fighting the use of the word as a derogatory descriptor isn’t going to make the world a better place.

  • Ill continue to say it until I do not feel like saying it anymore. The Homosexuals took the word and used it for themselves too, like gamers. The word has evolved. Also Homophobia is not an actual phobia either. I dislike being censored either.

  • People (usually heterosexuals) who tell other people not to use the word gay/faggot usually remind me of parents who tell their kids not to stare at the retarded kid.

    Treading around the issue just serves to isolate gays/lesbians further within the community.

    Slightly off-topic now, while I think the gay/lesbian community is a great one, sometimes I think the fact that it’s become such a strong community just reinforces identification by sexuality and I think the world would be better if you weren’t defined by sexual preference.

  • The thing is, people use the word gay to call people homosexual rather than just to simply insult them.

    Because of their own homophobic tendencies, they perceive all homosexual people to be bad and use any variation and definition of the word gay as insult.

    I’ve been and seen people called cocksucker (mind my language) and etc, several times since returning to the realm of PC Gaming, and I normally just ignore the idiotic comments of sorelosers or people that think themselves great because of winning a video game.

    I avoid using the term because at times I’m a little self-conscious. But I have found my self using it in real life when seeing things that annoy me and call them gay. I am against homophobia but like Mark, it seems to carry a different meaning when I comment, oddly enough.

  • People in general say it too much, not just gamers. My sister does it all the time, despite me giving her grief for it, because she is just so used to saying it, and she has barely played a game in her life.

  • Homosexual here.

    As a word, ‘gay’ is fine with me. Completely fine. However, I wince every time people call eachother ‘gay’ or a ‘faggot’ as an insult, even if they don’t mean it that way. Why?

    Two reasons:

    1. Because it reminds me of the way a large percentage of the world’s population still views homosexuality as a negative and sinful thing. It hurts to feel like your way of life is considered by some to be so wrong that they’d pull a gun on you and shoot you without a care, or stab you in the back and then raise their hand for another go.

    2. A simpler, less traumatic reason- you often can’t tell whether the user of the word /does/ mean homosexual or whether they mean bad. Makes it a whole lot harder to ‘come out’ to friends.

    • I know where you’re coming from Rob.

      It can make me take pause when conversing with certain people. Maybe it’s a colleauge or an aquintance, but when they use words like that it makes me wonder if they’re the type of person to totally ignore me as a person because of my sexuality.

      If someone is going to be that way, I just move on. But it can be difficult to know if you should persue even a simple working relationship with someone if you think there’s a chance it would go awry the instant they knew you were gay. Which can be a pretty cruddy feeling sometimes.

      So in my opinion, using the word ‘Gay’ doesn’t make you homophobic. But it can place a question mark in some gay folks minds about whether you are or not. You may know you’re not, but sometimes we don’t!

      As for the gaming arena, It’s tough. You hear “Gay” “Fag” and “Faggot” through your Xbox Live Headset constantly. And although I know it’s mostly from frustration, trolling or anger it does tend to be the biggest reason I deny XBL friend requests. Pretty much for the same reasons as above.

  • Censorship needs to cease. If people do not want to see specific words then they do not need to dwell places people use them. Freedom of speech should never be tainted because some group of “proper” people attach a specific meaning to a word. As stated before it is all about context. Even then in my personal opinion us as a society really need to get over the attachment of specific words. What next? What if large masses of people started using the word “and” in place of gay when referring to homosexual individuals? Does that mean in a couple of years we are going to have to replace the word “and” as well?

    If you think that’s reaching well look at the original definition and use for the word gay because it shifted just the same.

    Words are words and people will always attach their own meaning to them, but telling others that YOUR meaning makes it wrong and that THEIR meaning doesn’t matter just shows how much disrespect you have for other peoples rights to free speech. This isn’t communist russia and acting like that “punishing” others for what YOU believe just makes you a dictator and in that respect I would encourage everyone anti-communist to avoid any place you dwell.

  • Well what everyone understands is that the word gamer or gaming is synonym for faggot, and no I didn’t read a single wall text of you fucking idiots, for you a it’s easier to grow a beard than growing muscles.

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