Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stop being so gay!

Yesterday afternoon, blogging super gay man Iain Dale did a post about how he and a reporter were verbally absued by some thirteen year-old leading to the eventual reaction by Iain to one of them wearing a white tracksuit that "it looked a bit gay".

Now, putting aside the fact that a white tracksuit is a thoroughly gay thing and anyone wearing it deserved to be flogged in the street for their sheer chavvy gayness, Iain's decision to use the word "gay" in the popular and now commonplace usage as a synonym for "crap", has, shall we say upset some people.

Upset in fact to the point that Iain has been branded a homophobe. I'm sure his gay male civil partner - lovely chap incidentally - will be reminding him of that during their more intimate moments over the forthcoming Yuletide, and it will done so with much hilarity.

However, not only has this high-profile openly homosexual gayer been branded as someone who hates homosexuals, he's also been indirectly accused of probably causing the suicide of the tracksuited chav, and certainly helping to maintain a societal attitude that brings about suicide.
That word leads to real despair and often suicide in vulnerable youngsters who dont have others to whom to turn...not even loving parents who feel the family is stigmatised by gayness.
**** Reality Check ****

Words and language morph and change over time. At some points they can have multiple meanings all of which can remain in common usage. They also have this little thing called context around their usage (something which I have posted about before).

The word "gay" is a great example of one of these words today. Originally a word that meant "happy" as is often pointed out, became a term appropriated by a particular identity politics group. Slowly that use became the more normal use, and the original, whilst still valid, faded.

Here's the important bit - and this goes back to the post I did on the word "nigga" - times have moved on significantly and that has resulted in the younger generations taking words and re-examinining them, not necessarily consciously, and changing their usage in a way that strips the negative identity perjorative.

Thus, the word "gay" can mean "homosexual", but if used contextually, can just mean "a bit pants". Interestingly enough, this language reality was perfectly illustrated by the Lib Dem Youth campaign called Homophobia is Gay. Absolutely! Being homophobic is a bad thing. A bad thing can be called "gay", ergo "Hating gays is gay".

It might sound silly, but it's not as if there are not hundreds of words that could not be used in similarly strange sounding sentences (go me with the alliteration!). There is of course an even wider issue with the mild outrage about Iain's use of the word "gay". That being a desire to prohibit its usage in some way.

Restrictions and prohibition on the usage of words when they have morphed alternate meanings. Or socially prohibiting words used by peer groups in different contextual ways, is gay. OK?

Note: Being gay is an abomination before God. That is why 9/11 happened, and "God hates Fags". I know this because Fred Phelps says so.


Iain Dale said...

Brilliant. But of course no doubt the lingo fascists will now dub you a gay hater too. Of course, you're not gay so you must be. That seems to be their logic. I think you need to share with us your "youthful experiences" to prove you can empathise. What was it you told me about that Maths teacher of yours? :)

Letters From A Tory said...

"Thus, the word 'gay' can mean 'homosexual', but if used contextually, can just mean 'a bit pants'."

Careful, Dizzy. The word "pants" can lead to real despair among Y-front wearers and often suicide in vulnerable youngsters who dont have others to whom to turn when they haven't got any clean boxers left.

Anonymous said...

Agree with how the meaning of words changes over time - but isn't the use of the word "chav" just the latest middle class way of expressing their old irrational hatred of the "lumpen proletariat"?

Even better if you can refer to "chavvy gayness" - it is quite clear who your current irrational hate targets!

dizzy said...

*bangs head against keyboard*

I just knew that at least one person would not be able distinguish the sarcastic nature of the beginning part of this post.

Stephen Glenn said...

So it's lingo fascists this morning is it Iain. ;)

Looks like I'm being acused of calling you a homophobe (oh the irony) when I think the main thrust I was making was that it is right to attempt to put someone down no matter what language they used. Of course in this case the language had added poingnacy.

Anonymous said...

When I were a lad, and we are talking real time here "GAY" stood for membership of the religious organisation Guild of Abstaining Youth. Not many people know this now.

Anonymous said...

It is the ultimate instant IQ test.

................................. said...

Machiavelli was once physically assaulted on campus by someone accusing him of being homophobic. This despite Machiavelli doing a great deal of work on homosexual relations whilst a student*.

*Make of this what you will.

................................. said...

PS Gays love chavs. Check out Rude Boys at Fire...

Anonymous said...

Have you thought that both alternatives are possible - ie that the word gay can be divorced from 'homosexual', but isn't necessarily so? I don't think a chav would understand it as being so. Why the urge to prove it had no homosexual connotations in this case? Of course I'm not accusing Iain Dale, or Dizzy, of being homophobic, I'm just advocating caution here and responsibility with language. Go too far down the route you're suggesting and you get to Ann Coulter claiming 'faggot' has nothing to do with 'homosexual,' just with 'wussy,' which is spurious; it means wussy because it means homosexual! Similarly, gay means rubbish now for some people because it meant, and still means in other contexts, homosexual. Although you might think the suicide comment is ridiculous, gay youth do have a much higher rate of suicide than average, and it makes sense that the constant, daily homophobic banter in schools etc helps this along. This isn't about being PC - it's about responsibility, which is a very conservative virtue.

dizzy said...

I think that it wo0uld be very difficult to accuse Iain of being homophobic. He is after all gay himself in a civil partnership.

Anonymous said...

I realise that Dizzy and I wouldn't dream of doing so. Nor for you. But that does not make Iain the sole authority on gay matters :)