Anderson Cooper got it…well, halfway right.
Here’s the video, and this is in regards to that movie, “The Dilemna,”, which uses the term “So Gay” in the trailer. AC got it right in that the phrase should probably not be used, but I say it’s only half right in context. It’s the same thing with people using the n-word. If I’m black and I call another person the n-word, that’s not a problem. But I’m not, so I am not allowed to use it. Just like I’m “allowed” to call another Asian person the c-word or a FOB, but god help someone who’s NOT Asian who calls me or another Asian person that.
The L Word (in the pilot episode) actually uses the term “so gay,” but because the characters who use it ARE gay, that makes it “ok.” So the question I pose is, should there be any time when these terms, or rather, the way the term “so gay” is used, are ok? Or should they be completely stricken from our vocabulary. One other term in recent memory has undergone the striking out – “retarded” or “retard”. So it’s possible to get to the point where you can use “gay” to talk about someone’s identity, or the community, or as a political term, but where it would NOT be ok to say “that’s so gay.” Maybe this restriction in phrase should also apply to gay people, not just straight ones?
October 10, 2010 at 6:43 am
I think the word "queer" is probably more likened to the "n" word. The truth is that "That's so Gay" has been pre-empted as a derogatory phrase. Everything else is off limits buy gays are still fair game. (Truthfully, Asians are too, but that's another discussion) There is In-Camp privilege. There just is. I can point to something and say it's "gay" because I own that word without it's negative connotation. Very few straight people can say this. Personally, I don't use the particular phrase, "That's so Gay", but I will acknowledge that something/someone is gay. I never use it as a negative, but to simply point out things/persons/situations that "belong" to my community. Where use of the "n" word is an attempt to retake a word and make it positive (Though I don't really believe this happens), use of the phrase "That's so gay" is an attempt to take a positive word within a community and make it negative. A "we're going to take your feel good identity and make it ugly" kind of strategy.I cringe whenever I hear it and call it out when I can.
October 10, 2010 at 9:04 am
Cindy, I have to disagree with you. I've been hearing the phrase "that's so gay" uses derogatorily for decades. It's just been in recent years that I've heard it taken back by queer or queer-friendly folk as a phrase to mean either "that's really a gay thing" in describing something like Rent or "that's so fabulous" in describing something like Rent. I think it's a great thing and it makes me happy to use the word in this way.
October 11, 2010 at 12:09 am
There seems to have been a shift, from gay meaning "merry" to gay meaning "lame" to now, where it's co-opted by the community (Cindy, I love the term In-Camp privilege) for political and social clout and visibility, as description, as community.I've decided that I'm going to be writing this as my final paper this semester for a class. So thank you both for letting my creative juices flow about this.
October 11, 2010 at 12:21 am
I think the "so" in "so gay" is what gives the phrase its power – is what makes the phrase questionable (negative or empowering). the "so" implies the negativity (or not), but it's the site of the implied (whatever it actually implies). Removing it takes the kick out of the sentence. It doesn't have quite the same connotations without as with it.(dangerously treading rhetorical waters here…)