On Calling Things Gay

Since high school I’ve periodically used the word “gay” to refer to things as stupid or idiotic. And I never saw anything wrong with it. I know it’s not politically correct to say; that being said, I’ve always thought that we can take things too far with political correctness. I mean, you can tell when someone is using it as a colloquial term and when someone is really bashing gays, so what’s the big deal?

But a few days ago I was taking a shower and it occurred to me that while there was a day when I identified as gay, that’s no longer the case—do I then really have the right to use the term unabashedly to call things stupid? Suddenly, after years of calling things gay without remorse, it just doesn’t seem right anymore.

Before I jumped in the shower I’d been leisurely scanning a report on bi-erasure, the process by which bisexuality is “erased” by claiming that bisexuals are simply in transition to being gay or straight. As a bisexual male, this process obviously annoys me. I think, therefore I am; yet here is a trend that attempts to say that I don’t really exist.

I’m not one for labeling everything, but I correct friend they says I’m gay in reference to my sexuality because labels should be applied correctly if you’re going to use them. For example, a friend who was curious about an acquaintance’s sexuality once said to me, “you’re gay, what do you think?” He could have foregone the use of labels and said, “you sleep with dudes, what do you think?” But since he used the incorrect “gay” label I took a second to correct him to “bi” before addressing his question. Even though he knew full well that I was bi, I still had to correct him if only to break the tendency to lump bi people in with gay people.

If I won’t identify with a label that incorrectly characterizes me, then I also can’t casually use that same label for a secondary meaning that many find offensive—even if I think that there is such as thing as too much political correctness. I want those who identify as gay to realize that I’m not in a state of transition, that bisexuality does exist. So perhaps it’s time to finally listen to what many friends have been saying for a long time and stop using “gay” when what I really mean is “stupid”.

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