Two BPV: “That’s so gay!” – Time to change a bad habit

Ashley Mashian

Eliana Willis, 12th Grade

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In our society, nine out of 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender teens have experienced harassment at school. According to the Trevor Project, a confidential teen suicide hotline, gay teens are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers and also more likely to be depressed. And this issue has been made publicly known to us by the six suicides of bullied gay teens last September.

The misconception that being gay is something to be bullied for is a huge problem in our society. It reflects a prejudice fueled by ignorance and apathy. People don’t understand the issues gay teens face in our society and usually, they frankly don’t care. That’s why they throw around homophobic slurs like “That’s so gay.”

When you say “That’s so gay,” you don’t mean that the thing or person you’re talking about is homosexual. What you’re saying is that it or they are stupid or uncool. But whether you realize it or not, you’re therefore also saying that being gay is stupid or uncool. But it’s not. It’s fine to be gay. Just like it’s fine to be straight, or Jewish, or Muslim, or Hindu, or black, or white, or Hispanic, or have red hair, or have brown eyes. Sexual orientation is not a choice. It’s not a moral statement. It’s something decided by chance and people will be who they are no matter what anyone says, because it’s also not something you can change.

When you say “That’s so gay,” you might think that because everyone says it, it’s just a contemporary term that has lost any association to the real meaning of “gay,” which is homosexual. But a large portion of our population uses it to make racial slurs, and we can agree now that it fuels more prejudice. In the same way, using homophobic slurs, even unintentional ones in our modern vernacular, diminishes gay people’s struggle for equal rights and cultural acceptance. When you say “That’s so gay,” you’re part of the problem. You’re making it an acceptable phrase in our society when it’s not.

When you say “That’s so gay,” you’re also neglecting your Jewish roots. You’re ignoring our history of oppression and anti-Semitism, of which name-calling has often been a prominent part. You say “Never Again” to the Holocaust and you remember our fellow Jews who were murdered. But you insult the thousands of gays who were murdered in those same camps, and you perpetuate the very prejudice that put both them and us there. How can we as Jews not understand the suffering of any oppressed minority?

And when you say “That’s so gay,” you’re fostering an environment where gay people, especially teenagers who are already sensitive, think that they can’t be open about who they are. Gay people hear this sentence and think, “They’re saying it’s uncool (or whatever) to be gay.”

Imagine if everyone around you, including your friends, family, and community, used your name as an insult. Imagine if when they wanted to insult someone, they said, “That’s so Eli,” or “That’s so Dave.” Imagine that it was an insult to compare someone to you. Think about how you would feel.

But when you say “That’s so gay,” you’re probably not thinking.

So think about it now.

When you say “That’s so gay,” you’re hurting my feelings and other people’s feelings. Even though it doesn’t seem like much, you might even contribute to someone’s depression and possible suicide.

When gay people hear you say it, they think you’re a racist or a homophobe, and you’re alienating some people who you might actually want to be friends with.

When you say “That’s so gay,” you’re lowering your moral standard to that of any other person who judges others by qualities they cannot themselves control.

It may not seem like much, but if everyone stops using homophobic slurs, including the seemingly innocent “That’s so gay,” we can create a less hateful and safer environment. One where people can be open about who they are, and not bullied because of it.

It’s never too late to start thinking.

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