This I Believe

Marcus - New Rochelle, New York
Entered on January 6, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

“That’s so gay!” It is a phrase every teenager has heard, and many have spoken. It is used with displeasure and has a negative connotation. When a teacher gives an assignment, a student may respond, “That is so gay!” If one kid does something to annoy another kid, the first kid may reply, “You’re so gay!” This kind of use of the word is a form of bigotry.

My aunt is married to another woman. They have two girls and in a few years my little cousins, Viviana and Sara, will be going to school. What if walking the halls of their school they hear the phrase, “That’s so gay!” How will they feel? Hurt, embarrassed, confused, angry, are emotions which come to mind. Is there a good reason Viviana and Sara should have to feel this way? Did they do something wrong? Did their parents do something wrong? No. Their parents simply love each other, yet my aunts and other gay people, as well as their children, have become victims of one form of bigotry, homophobia, which is pervasive among teenagers today.

People often forget that it is bigotry that the phrase, “That’s so gay.” represents. The homophobic phrase is uttered so often that I, like many of my peers, have grown used to it. Yesterday I was talking to one of my friends about the phrase. She told me, “I say, ‘That’s gay.’ sometimes. I know its wrong, but it is imbedded in me.” This is the problem with bigotry: it is insidious. Bigotry is often subtle but it is spreads and spreads, growing roots deep in people’s minds. Many have begun to use the word gay negatively because after hearing it so often, the roots of bigotry have taken hold of them. The word gay has become another word in every kid’s vocabulary, a synonym for stupid. But then there are those, like Viviana and Sara, those who are the children of gay people. There are those who are gay themselves, those who have friends and family who are gay. For these people, the negative use of this word will always stick out like a sore thumb.

I used to confront the abusers of the term, but after a while I grew familiar with its negative use. I became passive and sunk to the same level as the offenders themselves. It was awkward and embarrassing to always be saying, “Hey, why don’t you use a different word? Couldn’t you say stupid where you said gay?”; but now, I realize it must be done. I must speak out against the negative use of this term because the only way to fight hate is actively. I must bear the awkwardness and embarrassment because I believe in stopping this form of homophobia. I believe in my cousins and my aunts’ and all gay people’s right to live peacefully without being battered by the homophobic phrase, “That’s so gay.”