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“That’s so gay”

June 24, 2009
tags: ,

I was a pretty cool babysitter back in the day- I didn’t force him to do his homework, he could play as many video games as he wanted, and friends could come over whenever. I only had two rules:

1. Always say “excuse me” after you burp.
2. Never say something is “gay” when you think its stupid.

I never really explained to him why he should do these things, only that I wanted them to. I think the only thing he learned from this experience was probably that there were certain courtesy things he should do around me. Although I hope later in life if he uses the term around other who are similarly offended, it might make him think more critically. Either way, I never really challenged him on the negative cultural norms and power dynamics behind his statement, but merely told him to “stop”.

I thought of this again when I saw these PSA’s with the tagline “Knock it off”:

I think I know what they are getting at with this approach – that using the term “that’s gay” is so dumb, that it really shouldn’t have to be dignified with a response. But do you think there is a better way? Does explaining the issue this way only mask the larger power and privilege structures around gender and sexuality?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Lisa permalink
    June 24, 2009 9:28 PM

    I love these videos! After two summers of working with teens, I was completely fed up with telling them over and over not to use “gay” to mean “bad/stupid/wrong”. I like their approach to the problem, although as Becky points out, they don’t really get into the “larger power and privilege structures” at play her. On the other hand, most people who say “that’s so gay” probably aren’t going to pay a lot of attention if you deliver a discourse on oppression and shaming of LGBTQ people. I’m just glad that there are celebrities out there spreading this message, hopefully they will give more people the courage to speak up when someone says something offensive and hurtful.

  2. Carolyn permalink
    June 25, 2009 7:23 PM

    These videos are really good. Here’s another one from the same group, called “That’s so Emma and Julia,”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEpBYKOs3ys

    I’ve always had trouble telling people to stop– especially when it concerned people close to me. Think family members. They often don’t take it seriously and continue their habit. It drives me crazy, and I hope that someday somebody else will come up to them and tell them what I’ve been saying all along. Maybe then they’ll realize that it isn’t just me.

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