Get this straight: ‘Gay’ is not an Insult

Written by: Lane Barrette, Editor

According to Merriam-Webster, the word gay is defined as, of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire towards another of the same sex. Nowhere in that definition does any of following terms or their synonyms appear: dumb, ridiculous, outrageous, worthless, and the list goes on. Regardless of the definition, high schooler demographics are more likely to refer to something that is dumb, ridiculous, outrageous, worthless, etc. as ’gay’. Not only is this linguistically incorrect, but it is also straight up bigoted.

Eight percent of high school students report identifying as either lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual or any other non-binary sexual orientation (LGBTQIA+). Sadly, according to GLSEN, this 8% is at least twice as likely to end their life in comparison to their straight peers. That statistic has been theorized to be directly connected to the normalization of using ‘gay’ with a negative connotation.

Teens don’t necessarily view the term ‘gay’ as an insult, but rather use it as such as a result of hearing from their peers.

The results of a study by the Human Rights Campaign found that 36% of LGBT youth are not open about their sexuality to their classmates. The reason as to why each individual stays in the closet is not exactly black and white, however, it has been proven that LGBT youth stay in the closet because of peers using ‘gay’ as something negative.

When someone is accused of being gay, it can often seem to be seen as offensive. This is not because people view homosexuality as a bad thing, but because their identity is being stolen from them. If someone is open about their sexuality, then don’t refer to someone as something they are not. For example, if someone says they are straight, then only refer to that person’s sexuality as straight.

Regardless if someone may or may not believe ‘gay’ is actually an insult, the word ‘gay’ and its definition hold no negative meaning; and therefore, should never be used as one. Utilizing ‘gay’ insultingly is extraordinarily bigoted and should not be tolerated by anyone.

 

*The use of LGBT is used for abbreviation purposes, and not to discredit other identifies found within the LGBTQIA+ community.