Letter to the Editor | Friday, February 22, 2008
I was sitting in LaFortune a little while ago listening to two of my friends in the business school discuss a recent test. When discussing a certain section of the test, one of them exclaimed, “Yeah, that part was gay.” I got this strange feeling when I heard this. It was not because I was shocked that he would use the word “gay” to describe a business test, but rather that describing things as “gay” has become such an integral part of our day-to-day conversation.
I cannot pinpoint a reason or time when everything seemed to become “gay.” But I can’t think of any adults I know who refer to basic concepts and objects as “gay,” so it is clearly something that has developed during our generation. I also do not know why things have become “gay.” For example, it is technically impossible for a test to be gay. Tests do not mate or have physical desires to other tests (last time I checked). But everything that we do not like now is “gay,” and no one ever seems to stop and think why we do this.
I will admit that at many points in my life I have described things as “gay.” Friends who would annoy me would be “gay,” teachers who gave lots of homework were “gay,” and music that I did not enjoy was “gay.” Calling things “gay” is now natural. Yet in (almost) all of these instances, the thing I was describing was in no shape or form “gay.” There are plenty of other good words that I could use to describe these things. They could be lame, stupid, dumb, weird, or idiotic. But whenever I encounter something that rubs me the wrong way, it instinctively becomes “gay,” and it makes no sense.
What makes this even weirder is that if we were to use another orientation to describe these disagreeable things, the reaction would be much different. If I were to describe a friend who was acting funny as “so Catholic,” people would freak out. Same thing if I were to call a homework assignment “so Asian.” Yet if either of these things were called “gay,” everyone else would most likely agree, even though it makes no sense.
Everyone knows that Notre Dame is not the most accepting place for homosexuals, but we should not use this as a reason for things to be called “gay.” The issue at hand is not the morality or concept of homosexuality. It is about making sense and showing respect. No matter how you slice it, calling something “gay” is nonsensical. There are much better, more accurate words to describe things we do not like. The rather significant portion of the world that is gay probably does not like to be associated with all things lame either. No affiliation should suffer this fate, no matter how much one disagrees with it.
I do not think that this name-calling will ever really end. It has become such a part of us that most of us do not even think about it. In fact, I bet that someone will read this and ironically proceed to call it “gay.” But I hope that at some point in the future we can all stop, think, and maybe come up with a better word to describe things that bother us.