This evening I was browsing photos of a friend on Facebook, when I stumbled across one with my friend and another guy that was wearing a shirt with a picture of a rainbow and the phrase "More like gay-U" on the front. Seeing as he's a KSU fan, I am assuming this is supposed to be some sort of an insult toward KU.
My first reaction was a well-deserved facepalm. Not because he is *attempting to* insult my university of choice but because he thinks "gay" is an insult at all. I attempted to find the vendor that sold these shirts, but as I did more digging it turns out that this shirt is not sold at stores, it was actually a creation of the young man wearing it.
Let's back up a few years. By the time I was in 7th or 8th grade, the phrase "That's so gay!" was thrown around with reckless abandon. Don't like a song? That's gay. Annoyed with the amount of homework you have? That's so gay.
That "insult" doesn't even begin to make sense to me. Either you're referring to something being cheerful (as in pretty and witty and gay) or you're referring to someone who identifies as homosexual. It got to the point where that phrase really annoyed me, so I would try to explain to my peers why I didn't think they should use it anymore.
When one uses the word gay as an insult, it attaches a new connotation to the word. He/she is inferring that "gay" is something detestable or at the very least unlikable. Therefore society starts to attach that connotation to gay people as a whole. This creates a new social stigma and ultimately makes it that much more difficult to be openly gay. In it's simplest form, using gay as an insult is bullying. I have no patience for bullies.
One day in high school, (I think it was my senior year) as we were working on an assignment in class, a student remarked just how gay he thought that assignment was. I rolled my eyes and told him he really shouldn't be using that phrase. He tried to defend himself, and tell me it was just a phrase that people use and that it wasn't insulting to gay people. I told him, just as I've told you here, that he was attaching a bad connotation to "gay" and was in fact insulting gay people even if he didn't mean to. At that point the substitute teacher chimed in, telling me that the student wasn't calling the assignment homosexual, he was just expressing his dislike for it. I tried to explain my reasoning further, but at this point the argument got emotional, and it's not easy to make angry people change their minds. At one point a different classmate told me I was being too sensitive and said something like "What about when people call something stupid? Isn't that insulting to stupid people?!" He was dead serious. I wanted to headdesk so bad. With my instructor coming to the students' defense, and my frustration growing, I decided to drop the matter, pick up my things and ask to be excused.
I wish I could say that situation was rare, but it wasn't at all. I dealt with this kind of thinking constantly. Not to say that everyone at my high school was like this! It just was not a rarity. Now at KU, I've had the good fortune to be surrounded by (generally speaking) open-minded people and have not heard that phrase used in a long time. Sadly, I know it's still used, and it needs to stop.