I started to get very annoying when people use the phrase “it is so gay!” to express their attitudes toward certain things. We become such dumb asses when we started to use phrases like these to describe our feelings toward things we do not like or understand. It will sound so funny if we create sayings like these, for example: “That looks so straight!”, or “That is so Mexican!”, or what about “That is so white”. What is the hidden meaning on all these so ridiculous expressions? Why do we need to identify our feelings, likes and dislikes with the identities of people? Do we think is funny to say “oh man you look so gay”? Please stop and think with me about this so incoherent issue.
One of my favorites speech teachers and a great friend of mine has always taught about the unpronounceable word, or better known as the “F” word. He argues that the “f” word in itself does not mean anything, that in the beginning it was just a group of letters and sounds put together, it was as innocent as to say “candy” or “beautiful”.It was just the letters F,U,C,K and their sounds. Later on those sounds were put together, and It started to be used to describe sexual engagement. One day, one person used it with a different meaning, and then the word became one of the most offensive words to have in the English language. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, language is “a systematic means of communicating ideas or feelings by the use of conventionalized signs, sounds, gestures, or marks having understood meanings”. But I will go even further than that, and say that religion ,and society have a very strong input on classifying the words into offensive and not offensive. For example what about “Oh my God!” we use this phrase when we are surprise about something. Some conservative people probably said that it was offensive to pronounce the name of God in vain, so the phrase was changed to “Oh my gosh!”. Same meaning just a different word.
So it is all about the meaning we placed in the word that makes it wrong. So I go back the phrase: “That look so gay”?. Do we realize that we have changed the meaning of “gay” and place it as a synonymous of dumb, stupid, cheesy, or even way too feminine?. So if the word “gay” describes that, what we can say about Ellen Degeneres and Ricky Martin? Are they dumb, stupid, cheesy or way to feminine? Can we see how ridiculous we can transform the meaning of our language?. Imagine that I am watching the movie Napoleon Dynamite , and just because the movie(knowing I am from Mexico) looks dumb to me, I will conclude, “That looks so white!”. Suddenly some attitudes and expressions of white people will have the meaning of dumbness. Imagine you are in a restaurant and you hear a bunch of tourist from another country saying: “Oh wow!! that looks so white!!!” Would you laugh with them and realized that “yes” they are right?, that thing really looks so white! or would you go and asked them what did they mean with that phrase because you did not get the joke?
My point here is that we have the power to change the meaning of words according to how we use them. If we want a world of diversity and social justice, if we dream with a world were human rights are protected, if we are going to be citizens of the globalization of this world; we really need to be careful about the use of our words or phrases. I want to be part of a place where different religions, lifestyles, races, and ideologies are encouraged, cherish and respected. I want to be a citizen of the 21st Century, and I can make the difference with the way I conduct myself towards those who are different than me. They deserve my respect and admiration.