One of the links Fran included was to this site, ThinkB4YouSpeak, and it really struck a nerve for me. For the last ten years or so, I've noticed the phrase "that's so gay" has crept into the American vernacular, used by both children and adults to describe something that is distasteful, stupid, silly, or otherwise not to their liking. Many of these people don't even realize what they're saying; for them, it's no different from saying "you know" or "like" as they chatter away--a verbal "tic" they don't even notice anymore.
But isn't it different?
A couple of years ago, a woman in the cubicle across from me used this phrase constantly when she spoke on the phone to family or friends. Someone had a gay dog, a gay car, or a gay driveway even! The driveway one was the last straw. I told her how ridiculous, inaccurate, and insulting her habit was; how could a driveway be gay? I saw a tiny shadow of realization creeping across her face, but I knew she wasn't fully convinced. I made her a deal: I would stop saying "godddammit" in her presence (I swear. A lot. Even at work. Under my breath. Or not.), if she stopped using the word "gay" in this derogatory way. We made a deal, and we've both stuck to it. It's helped us both keep our language on a level befitting mature adults.
Just yesterday, a girl in the dollar store told her mother that a certain hair bow was "so gay." And did the mother say anything? Nope. It was like she understood the kid on some insane level! I cleared my throat and glared at them, about to launch into a lecture--but they quickly left the aisle. Dangit! Another "teaching moment" lost!
A long time ago, the word -- oh gees I can't even type it -- "the N-word" --was used as a perfectly acceptable description for people of color. I still hear "spic" used to describe me and my fellow hispanics (though not so much up here in rural PA, where I'm one of the few hispanic people around!). How is saying that something is "gay" any less offensive to the millions of us who happen to be gay?
I'm pretty sure I'm preaching to the choir, knowing all of you who regularly read this blog. Still--do me a favor. If you hear "that's so gay" coming out of someone's mouth--in a store, at the movies, wherever--give 'em a lecture for me. Or even just a glare. Just do something to show that it's not okay to use "gay" as a synonym for "wrong."