As most people know, Prop 8 is being discussed in the supreme court today. If we get the decision we want to hear, all of our gay friends and family members will gain one more basic human right that they are currently denied. Whether this decision is made today, or not, the gay community will still have a good ways to go.
One thing that needs to change, and doesn’t need some old guy in a suit to decide, is the use of hate speech. A lot of people say things like “That’s so gay” or “No homo” as a joke to their friends. Whether it is meant to be a joke or not, it still has a negative connotation. What does this say about society’s general view of gay people? And it’s not just homophobic slurs being thrown around. I hear way too many jokes about rape. I hear people call their friends, and people they don’t like a retard. These are not things to be joked about. You don’t know who is around you.
Suppose you or your friend make a joke about rape. Neither of you mean to offend anyone, and you aren’t trying to say that rape is okay. But what if someone who happens to be walking by was raped. You could offend them, or seriously upset them.
I’m not one of those people who goes around trying to stop every joke that goes between friends. I’m just reminding you that what you say does affect other people and to be careful when joking about these things.
Back on the topic of homophobic slurs. When you replace the word ‘stupid’ with ‘gay’ or ‘homo’ you are essentially saying that the two are synonymous. They are not. When you suggest this, you are sending the massage that being gay is not okay. Just like in the rape scenario that I explained earlier, what if a person who is struggling with their sexuality walks by while you say “that’s so gay” How do you think that makes them feel? They might think that something is wrong with them.
Here is a website that tracks the amount of times homophobic slurs occur on twitter. It can be filtered by today, last week, and all time. These numbers might be surprising to you.
Here’s how much it has changed in just the time that it took me to write this post.
Go ahead and click either of the images to go to the website and see how much it has changed.
If you hear someone saying these things, explain to them the impact that their words can have.
And of course, cross your fingers (or pray, or whatever you do) that we can move one step closer to equality today.