In defense of "that's so gay" | Teen Ink

In defense of "that's so gay"

November 16, 2010
By Jack.H BRONZE, Elmhurst, Illinois
Jack.H BRONZE, Elmhurst, Illinois
4 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
No man drowns if he perseveres in praying to God, and can swim. ~Russian Proverb

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. Thomas Jefferson


The controversial expression “that’s so gay” is uttered by many tolerant high school students. It is an innocent idiom and should be the least of society’s concerns. Unfortunately, gay rights activists attack the phrase like it’s hate speech.

Certain activists see the word “gay” in the phrase literally and associate it with homosexuality. However, among our generation, the everyday understanding of the phrase has absolutely nothing to do with sexuality.

For example, when students say a homework assignment is “so gay”, they are saying that it is pointless. After all, can homework really have sexuality?

What students mean is that the assignment is “so pointless.” When they say the phrase, they do not equate “pointless” with “homosexuality” because they are commenting on a useless chore, not a sexual orientation.

I have uttered the expression many times. But it is ludicrous to say that I would mean anything other than the fact that an assignment was futile busywork.

Nonetheless, I have heard hateful speech at school. Whether justified by the Old Testament or an ignorant upbringing, there is hate speech to worry about. Those that hate based on ignorance and fear should be shamed.

However, those who use innocent slang should be left alone.

In our society, we focus on addressing harmful actions. That is why the police are supposed to focus on preventing drunk driving, not jay walking.

Likewise, students who say “that’s so gay” do not violate other students’ right, according to my high school's Agenda, “to be in an environment free of discrimination.” The phrase also does not create “a hostile, offensive or intimidating environment based on … sexual orientation” because the phrase does not describe people.

The Agenda rightfully focuses on actions harmful to students. The phrase does not discriminate because it is free of homophobic meaning. While certain gay rights advocates see an ignorant, hateful expression, I see teenage slang unrelated to homosexuality.

But to those who are offended by my words, I regret my inarticulate speech habits. I hope you will forgive my own and others’ politically incorrect speech: we are not your enemies.

But attacking students’ harmless slang? That’s so pointless.


The author's comments:
Some of my gay and lesbian friends were dismayed by my article, yet they said that they felt closer to me. I have laid my view out there, and stand by them. Although, they should not be seen as a justification for homophobia or real homophobic speech.

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This article has 52 comments.


L.Krasta GOLD said...
on Apr. 10 2019 at 6:53 am
L.Krasta GOLD, Tirana, Other
11 articles 0 photos 2 comments
I think I speak for everyone when I say that this essay has invalid reasoning.

on Oct. 11 2018 at 12:19 am
madhatter0111 SILVER, Naperville, Illinois
6 articles 0 photos 1 comment
how would you feel if something stupid happened and someone said thats so straight?

on Oct. 10 2016 at 8:37 pm
Yeah, no. It may be easy to think "it's just slang, it's no big deal" if you're straight, but as a gay person, hearing my sexuality thrown around as a joke is frustrating, especially when straight people dismiss my anger as an "overreaction". If you claim to be an ally, listen to us when we say something harms us. It isn't up to you to decide what is and isn't harmful to LGBT people.

Silence. said...
on May. 12 2016 at 9:15 pm
Silence., Flower Mound, Texas
0 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Silence is true wisdom's best reply." -Euripides

I can at least see where the controversy originates from. The problem arises whenever the word "gay" is unduly used as an insult.

on Nov. 3 2015 at 11:41 am
tannerschell BRONZE, Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania
3 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
pain is temporary pride is forever said by JFK

twas a amazing article I am not that offended by that term that much as a bi individual

on Aug. 3 2015 at 9:02 pm
ProfessionalJaywalker GOLD, Rockville, Maryland
12 articles 0 photos 20 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore." -Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451)

Right, LGBTQIA+ individuals like myself suffer from actual discrimination every day. In my book, saying "that's so gay" doesn't really register. But I can't speak for my entire movement.

on Aug. 3 2015 at 9:00 pm
ProfessionalJaywalker GOLD, Rockville, Maryland
12 articles 0 photos 20 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore." -Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451)

I can only speak for myself. As a gay and transgender individual, I'm really not bothered by the expression "that's so gay." Every time I've heard someone say it, they didn't really mean it negatively. I got a lot bigger problems then trying to figure out if some comment someone made was meant to offend me. I've faced a lot worse.

on May. 19 2015 at 2:54 pm
AshleySD BRONZE, Campbell, California
1 article 1 photo 90 comments
THIS COMMENT JUST MADE MY DAY YOU ARE AN AMAZING WRITER

on May. 19 2015 at 2:11 pm
AshleySD BRONZE, Campbell, California
1 article 1 photo 90 comments
Are you gay?

on May. 19 2015 at 2:11 pm
AshleySD BRONZE, Campbell, California
1 article 1 photo 90 comments
That's different than what this person is talking about.

on May. 10 2015 at 12:43 pm
purplediamonds GOLD, Closter, New Jersey
11 articles 0 photos 9 comments
I see your point, but when you call something gay with a negative connotation, you are associating something bad with being gay.

on May. 4 2015 at 6:03 pm
JesusandHisLawyers SILVER, Austin, Texas
7 articles 0 photos 99 comments

Favorite Quote:
"who the fuck has a favorite personal quote what does that even mean" - me, just now.

Um, pretty sure systematic oppression is significantly worse than a straight person being told that their opinion on shit they don't understand or experience is irrelevant Sorry, not really worried about the poor breeders' feelings. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Haylatte said...
on May. 3 2015 at 6:11 pm
Haylatte, National City, California
0 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Breathe. It's just a bad day, not a bad life." -Unknown
"There are many people who put you down. Don't be one of them." -Unknown
"Panic is what's gonna kill you if something goes wrong." -ForeverDreaming.orgg

*SOME straight people. Not every straight person is this way. Please don't generalize people, it'll make you just as bad as those you oppose.

Haylatte said...
on May. 3 2015 at 6:08 pm
Haylatte, National City, California
0 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Breathe. It's just a bad day, not a bad life." -Unknown
"There are many people who put you down. Don't be one of them." -Unknown
"Panic is what's gonna kill you if something goes wrong." -ForeverDreaming.orgg

You have a point, but the phrase in itself should just not be used. Many will automatically think calling something "gay" in place of "pointless" is equating gay people to the word pointless because it does, in a sense. How else did that phrase start being used?

abby said...
on Apr. 3 2015 at 10:22 am
It's easy to say you don't mind when you are not heterosexual and your identity is not constantly attacked. the LGBTQ population suffers from discrimination like violence and hate crimes every day. People are actually attacked and sexually harassed because of their identity, and you can not even stop abusing terms for their identity because you claim it's pointless. If people are genuinely offended when you say, "that's gay" and use their orientation as a derogatory term for any stupid thing you want, then you should stop saying it. You wouldn't want your own name to be used in place of words like "stupid" or pointless. So why are you saying it's ok to use someone else's identity in that way?

on Mar. 17 2015 at 2:38 pm
PastelJustice, Chicago Heights, Illinois
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
This article is astounding, and borderline homophobic. It is not up to the rights of a (presumably) straight person as you to declare whether the gay community has the right to feel offended from the phrase, "That's so gay." This is not a case of the English language "evolving". The derogatory usage of a slur is not making said slur into slang. Slang and slurs are not synonymous. When you are using the word "gay" to mean pointless or unnecessary ("This test is so gay!") you are equating someone's sexuality with a negative meaning. Gay is not simply a word -it is a sexuality in which people, real human beings, identify with and struggle to be everyday of their lives. I don't care how many of your gay friends tell you this is okay - it might be them, but you cannot use you token gay friends and assume their opinion is standard for the gay community (which you are not apart of, no less). I cringe when imagining what you think the usage of the n-word can be used for.

on Mar. 11 2015 at 4:45 pm
PTsaxplayer GOLD, Boiling Springs, South Carolina
14 articles 0 photos 18 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I am as old as I've ever been, but I'm as young as I'll ever be." -Robert O'Neill

I like many of the comments here must agree to a certain extent. First off before I go any further allow me to commemorate you on your writing skills it is very apparent that you are a very talented writer that truly puts emotion in your work. This is where I believe your article falls short; Yes in our generation the term "That's so gay," generally is an innocent statement that has come to mean something pointless. However this being said where is the line drawn on other statements that are commonly said by other students and young adults. I mean if you are going to generalize the statement "That's so gay," with being a pointless statement then who is to prevent making the argument that other phrases like "F that" are not also just meaningless statements. There is also to be remembered while what your literal statement means "Pointless," that there are still people out there that can and will take offense to that regardless what is meant. So when are we going to start respecting other peoples views? If we meant pointless by what we said then why not just say "That's so pointless"? I believe it is time for us to (as a society) start meaning what we are saying and saying what we mean other wise we are just allowing ourselves to fall into a pit of deceit. Again I think your writing ability is amazing and I do agree with parts of what you are saying I just thought I would put in my view as well. :)

on Feb. 22 2015 at 6:22 pm
JesusandHisLawyers SILVER, Austin, Texas
7 articles 0 photos 99 comments

Favorite Quote:
"who the fuck has a favorite personal quote what does that even mean" - me, just now.

@SallySunshine, straight people's opinions on issues that they don't understand and don't effect them are completely irrelevant, in the same way that men's opinions on feminism, or white people's opinions are racism are completely irrelevant. Have all the opinions you want, but don't expect anybody in the community to give a sh_t. (@SELI-chan, hmu on tumblr, same username, if you'd like to have a discussion on my views on queer and other similar issues, I'd love to hear your take and have a dialogue about it)

on Feb. 22 2015 at 3:07 pm
@JesusandHisLawyers Everyone's opinion matters. If you want to ignore some peoples' opinions, then you are free to do so, but you will only gain ignorance.

on Feb. 19 2015 at 9:32 pm
JesusandHisLawyers SILVER, Austin, Texas
7 articles 0 photos 99 comments

Favorite Quote:
"who the fuck has a favorite personal quote what does that even mean" - me, just now.

idk if you want my two cents on the word queer but here we go anyway: I'm a lesbian and I hate the word queer. I hate it when people call me queer and I hate it when people refer to the community as the "queer community" because you can reclaim a slur all you want but that doesn't change the fact that it's a slur and you really SHOULD NOT be using it in reference to people other than yourself. But I couldn't care less if someone uses it to refer to themselves. *shrug* straight people really just need to butt out honestly. not everything is about y'all. go take a nap or pet a dog or something.