let’s make gay mean “happy” again

In my Religious Studies class today, we started our section about Judaism. As the professor was giving her lecture, she was using the word “Jew” a lot (not in a rude way) and it really made me think about how a popular saying with teens nowadays is, “That’s so Jewish.” In these cases, Jewish is used as a synonym for something the speaker doesn’t approve of or finds useless or stupid (which is another arguably derogatory term, especially in the field of education). And it really made me think… Why Jewish people? Why does that specific religion get a bad rap? We can even see this historically; the Holocaust was one of the largest human tragedies, and it was all based on a certain group’s religion – but why?

You can see the same thing regarding homosexual people. Teenagers will exclaim, “That’s gay!” with the same connotation as “That’s Jewish.” It’s hard to imagine anyone saying “That’s so Christian” or “That’s just straight.” Is our society so against others who are ‘different,’ or don’t reflect the “normal,” straight, white, Christian identity that we must use them as synonyms to things that displease us?

I saw one of the pictures below on Facebook (and found the other one on Google) and I think they convey such a great message! The second one, which I saw on Facebook, was posted by an openly gay pre-service teacher at the university. I have always wondered what his experiences have been/will be with his students (he wants to teach high school English). In ECS 110, we read an article about how homosexual teachers are othered, and if any straight teachers stand up for homosexual teachers’ rights, they are automatically assumed to be gay or lesbian themselves (McKenzie-Bassant, 2007). I find this so upsetting and I truly hope that this particular Facebook friend finds an accepting and supportive community as he heads into his internship in the fall!

I know I will be censoring myself from saying “that’s gay” from now on! Isn’t it funny how a word that once meant ‘happy’ is now associated with something completely opposite? I hope that we can once again have a day where “gay” is associated with happiness and good things, rather than bad!

Sources:

McKenzie-Bassant, Claudette, “Lesbian Teachers Walking the Line between Inclusion and Exposure,” International Journal of Art & Design Education, 26 (1), p54-62, Feb 2007.

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