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Anyone know what you can do about homophobic kids?

The other day he was telling us that Fire Red got really gay after a while, and using Ditto in battle made it less gay. When I asked him to rephrase that he didn't get what I was intending. Using "gay" to mean "bad" may not mean that you want to kill anyone who happens to be gay, but it certainly doesn't make for a good environment for anyone gay or bisexual who's reading these forums - especially not any young teenager who's insecure in their sexuality.

Current Mood: angry angry

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johnckirk From: johnckirk Date: 20th March 2005 23:26 (UTC) (Link)
This doesn't directly answer your question, but I have had some thoughts along similar lines. I wouldn't describe a bad thing as "gay" (partly because it's not a slang term that I've ever picked up, and partly to avoid offending people), but one thing I've noticed is that people use "lame" in a similar context. Does that bother you in the same way, because of the "disabled = bad" implication? Again, it's something that I try not to say, but neither term offends me if I hear it elsewhere, when I'm sure that the person didn't intend that association.

Taking another example, I've heard people say "Wow, that's wicked!" as a compliment, without meaning "I worship an evil demon overlord, and all my moral values have been inverted". Also, looking at the flipside of your original comment, how about people using "gay" in its original (archaic) sense of "happy"? That's certainly unusual nowadays, but I would say that it's still valid.

I guess my general attitude is that it's ok for the same word to have different meanings in different contexts, even if it is slightly confusing. So, it's fine to ask people to use different terminology, but I'd lump it into the same category as "OMG! LOL!!11!!" etc., i.e. something that kids will grow out of on their own, and where prodding probably won't have much effect.

I'd also be wary of describing anyone who uses "gay" = "bad" as homophobic, since in many cases they're probably just being tactless. Otherwise, you risk diluting the term, and even making it seem acceptable. ("Oh, yeah, someone mentioned homophobes the other day - it's just what they call people who use l33t-speak, so there's nothing wrong with being one.")
baratron From: baratron Date: 20th March 2005 23:58 (UTC) (Link)
I wouldn't describe a bad thing as "gay" (partly because it's not a slang term that I've ever picked up, and partly to avoid offending people), but one thing I've noticed is that people use "lame" in a similar context. Does that bother you in the same way, because of the "disabled = bad" implication?

That's a really interesting point. Actually... it doesn't bother me, but that's mainly because I don't hear the association with people being lame, and I don't think that's where the phrase came from. Besides, call me lame and I'll thwack you with my stick ;)

On the other hand, "spastic" as an insult makes me see red. Spastic was an actual medical term before it got abused to the point where the Spastics' Society had to change their name because the members were so ashamed. Kids use the word as an insult without any idea what cerebral palsy is, or what the difference between cerebral palsy and other physical or mental disabilities is, and just to slag off people who aren't even visibly disabled. "Retard" is similar. I'm sure there are others.

Sure, gay means happy :) And on the rare occasion meeping or gerwinium do something stereotypically gay, I'll tell them "You're so gay!". Because it's literally true, and we all know that I don't think gay=bad. Likewise, on the rare occasion I actually behave like a person of my birth gender (like taking all afternoon to buy a pair of shoes), they say "You're such a woman!".

The problem is, if you reserve the word "homophobia" for thugs who actively beat up gay people, what word can you use for the casual insulter? Most LBGTQ people meet dozens of insulters for every one thug, and may find "casual" homophobia much more of a problem in everyday life.

I dunno. I'm sure there are links online to other people's writings, where they rant much more cluefully than me. I'm just posting late on a Sunday night about something that was bothering me, rather than proposing any radical solutions.
aca From: aca Date: 20th March 2005 23:30 (UTC) (Link)
It was a phrase I used to use without really thinking about it (when I was at school, not a place replete with homosexual awareness, I'm sad to say). What snapped me out of it was when I used the phrase and a friend of mine made a comment about me being a repressed heterosexual, entirely in a joking manner. It would be fair to say that this was the moment I realised he was gay, and felt utterly tiny and ignorant. I think he thought it was funny.

It pulled me up sharp since I'd never really though of it as being offensive. It's one of those things that kids can pick up from their surroundings without really considering the meaning. I don't think that once they begin using it that you can easily disabuse them of doing so without them realising what they are actually saying. This can be hard to get across to them depending on their age and background unless you're able to talk them through what it means and why people would be upset or offended by its misuse.

As to how to get them to stop wi
aca From: aca Date: 20th March 2005 23:31 (UTC) (Link)
Hmm, disregard that last line there, my browser is being weird, it would seem.
baratron From: baratron Date: 20th March 2005 23:58 (UTC) (Link)

:rolleyes: at livejournal

We still need comment editing.

And the distinction between "friends" lists and "watched journals".
aca From: aca Date: 21st March 2005 00:20 (UTC) (Link)

Re: :rolleyes: at livejournal

Indeedy, filters only go so far.
ailbhe From: ailbhe Date: 21st March 2005 00:37 (UTC) (Link)

Just a thought...

My mother made us think about insults. It took some doing - but we never called each other Cow or Pig or Bitch after we realised that we preferred animals to sisters any day.

How about rephrasing to "Fire Red got really unlikely to sleep with my girlfriend after a while" or similar? Reframing the automatic thought behind homophobia, so that instead of "Auigh will want to sleep with ME" it goes to "Aha not competition"?

Speaking of sleep, I shoulf - I have a 5 am feed to do.
thekumquat From: thekumquat Date: 21st March 2005 10:25 (UTC) (Link)
I was musing on this recently. Could you point out that if they aren't saying that gay=bad, the whole phrase is meaningless because it simply wouldn't make sense. And ask why he doesn't go for a bit of variety, such as that's so black/Asian/ginger/New Malden? Although if he's happy to sound like he's insulting all those groups then I have no idea.
johnckirk From: johnckirk Date: 21st March 2005 17:16 (UTC) (Link)
I think (at least in some cases), that people are saying "gay=bad" but not necessarily "homosexual=bad"; it's a question of context. E.g. I can say "school=building" and "school=fish" without meaning "building=fish". As for the variety question, I think most people are just repeating phrases that they've heard other people use, rather than making up new ones. And although this isn't quite the same thing, "black comedy" normally means "The League of Gentlemen" rather than "The Cosby Show".

One other aspect of this (not specifically related to your comment, but this is a convenient place to mention it) is blasphemy. Quoting a scene from "Top 10" (a comic), where two people are watching a video:
Jackie: "Jesus, how much more of this crap do we have to wade through?"
Cathy: "Jackie, I've told you before. You don't raise the Lord's name in conversation, neither will I."
That's not something that bothers me personally, but I think that kind of swearing is fairly common, so if you can understand how people would say that without intending to offend Christians, that may make it easier to understand how someone would say "That's gay" without intending to offend homosexuals.
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baratron From: baratron Date: 21st March 2005 17:52 (UTC) (Link)
Fire Red is a Pokemon game and Ditto is a particular Pokemon.

What he actually said is here, and my reply is here. The irony is that saying using Ditto in battle rather than for breeding makes the game "less gay" is literally true, as Ditto is a genderless Pokemon who can breed with almost any other Pokemon regardless of that Pokemon's gender.

I hope that made sense?!
sashajwolf From: sashajwolf Date: 21st March 2005 16:26 (UTC) (Link)
I haven't seen the "Fire Red" comment in context, but I'm beginning to encounter young people who have actually come across gay as a slang term for "bad" long before they came across it as a term for "homosexual", and who therefore assumed that the derivation was of the same type as "wicked=good" (if they stopped to think about it at all). If he really didn't seem to get what you were on about, this may be why.
baratron From: baratron Date: 21st March 2005 17:52 (UTC) (Link)
Huh. There's a thought...
hobbitbabe From: hobbitbabe Date: 21st March 2005 21:29 (UTC) (Link)
That commenter seems to be a particularly difficult case, not sure what to do about him.

In general, I agree that drawing young people's attention to the literal meaning of what they're saying and the fact that a real person (me) is offended is often enough. I've done that effectively with "this is so gay", with "Oh God" or "Christ" used in a casual way, and with "we really got raped on this test".

It seems less argumentative to make the request about my preferences ("please don't say that around me") than to make a blanket judgement about the language being wrong. However, when I'm the teacher or counsellor in charge, and there are other students around, sometimes I feel like I should go on record as opposing the language of hate-speech in general. ("That's not appropriate in a classroom setting / at this camp."
baratron From: baratron Date: 21st March 2005 22:24 (UTC) (Link)

Oh, man. I'd forgotten about "being raped" on tests. Several different people have used the word "rape"/"rapist" on Pokemon forums to talk about really powerful Pokemon. I've reported the offending posts to the mods, but I don't know whether the mods understand what the problem is, and I'm not sure how to explain it.

Do you know of a clueful rant site that I could direct people to for education about why "rape" shouldn't be used that way?

abigailb From: abigailb Date: 22nd March 2005 20:09 (UTC) (Link)
If you figure out how to stop kids doing it, can you let me know how and I can try it on the people on my mud who really ought to know better? They claim its not homophobic, but just a general term of abuse that happens to be spelt the same as a word for homosexual. If I grr enough at them they stop doing it - but I think they genuinely don't see the problem... :(
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