Thursday, September 24th, 2009

"That's So Gay" Is So Lame. I Mean, Dumb. I Mean, Retarded. Oh God!

OH, TIMMYAwl contributor Tom Scocca just blew my mind by IM'ing me this sentence, from this coming Sunday's fairly interesting New York Times Magazine cover story about gay kids: "By far the most common usage of the word 'gay' in middle schools is in the expression 'that's so gay,' a popular adolescent phrase that means that something is dumb or lame." Um. *Head explodes.* Hey. You guys? Anyone? You mean, "dumb," the word that used to mean "a person unable to speak" that later came to mean "stupid"? And "lame," the word that used to mean "a person who is crippled" and later came to mean "stupid"? So basically this proves that, in the evolution of the English language, the word "gay" is primarily going to mean, heh, well, "dumb or lame." I can't believe this little ouroboros of linguistics just happened right here under our noses, behind our backs. At a place where editors of words work.

51 Comments / Post A Comment

toadvine (#1,698)


afarerkind (#379)

Didn't "stupid" once have a more precise meaning, too? It's all hard to define. "Undesirable," I suppose?

But the thing is, except for "gay," those words all refer to undesirable conditions. Shortcomings. (Though we're all special snowflakes no matter what!!!) The problem is that the kids are putting "gay" in that category. Like it's the same thing as being unable to function normally.

lempha (#581)

Granted, but disabled persons don't necessarily consider their conditions "undesirable" or "shortcomings", either.

Fredrick (#268)

Well, they are at least perceived as 'setbacks' when the conditions first appear. But, as modern society has been constructed (or evolved or whatever) gay would technically be a 'setback' (gay-bashings, marginalized rights, blahblah).

So I think the point of the post still stands.

metoometoo (#230)

If that's how you feel about it, you should probably start saying "differently abled" instead of "disabled."

HiredGoons (#603)


I am gonna start using bush, as in George Bush. Oh man that is soooooo bushhhhh!!!!!!

Baboleen (#1,430)

Beginning with the junior high lexicon, the adjective "fucking" precedes all other descriptions, positive or negative.

metoometoo (#230)

For years, I have been making the argument that if it's okay to use the word "lame" as a pejorative, then it's equally okay to use the word "retarded" as a pejorative. Because their literal meanings are not too far away from their more colloquial meanings. But neither definition of the word "gay" lends itself to such an interpretation. So, in my opinion, it's totally lame and retarded to use the word "gay" as a pejorative.

Fredrick (#268)

But didn't calling 'homos' gay, at one point, serve the purpose of putting them down? Like 'happy little fairies, so "gay"…' This could be untrue.

whoneedslight (#758)

I can't quit "retarded." I'm lame.

afarerkind (#379)


Ronit (#1,557)

I'm still sad about what happened to the word "liberal"

Pop Socket (#187)

How retarded. Or as Dan Savage says it, "leotarded."

Matt (#26)

This shit is toy.

sox (#652)

well played.

sox (#652)

We should just ban all language that bears negative connotation.

Like this:
That shit is so not joyous!
You are being really not smart right now!
She said the most intellectually inferior thing today!

Oh, don't Jew yourself out of your vocabulary.

sox (#652)

I'm not cheap, I'm INEXPENSIVE, thank you.

metoometoo (#230)

Um, "inferior"? That's so offensive.

garge (#736)

I had no idea this usage went back to 1978. I had my money on 1999
e. slang (chiefly U.S.) (sometimes considered offensive). Foolish, stupid, socially inappropriate or disapproved of; ‘lame’.
1978 G. KIMBERLY Skateboard 41 ‘It looks terrific on you.’ ‘It looks gay.’ 1987 Creem Close-up Presents No. 1. 6 Your so-stupid-they're-funny captions are gay. Get into some [real] humor. 1999 T. PARKER & M. STONE Cartman's Mom is Dirty Slut in South Park Scripts: Bk. 1 150 (stage direct.) As the camera zooms in on their faces, that gay ‘Near/Far’ song from ‘Titanic’ plays. 2001 Washington Post 8 May C9 Today, they [sc. teenagers] often use gay as an adjective meaning ‘stupid’… A gay movie is a stupid movie or one that makes no sense or one with a lame plot or all of those things. 2002 Independent 3 Oct. 21/3 At last{em}the first official confirmation that the term ‘gay’ has now ousted ‘pants’ as the popular youth slang for ‘naff’.

garge (#736)

Also, OED, *sometimes*???

sunnyciegos (#551)

Well, now I know "pants" and "naff" are passé. Thanks, OED!

katiebakes (#32)

God, you people can be soooo Hawking sometimes.

Moff (#28)

But what, I wonder, will "fagtastic" come to mean? Or "ausometistic"? Or "spictacular"? Or "neat"?

Joe MacLeod (#22)
Fredrick (#268)

That's so 'guy posting a video link on the Awl.'

MatthewGallaway (#1,239)

I'm of the opinion that non-heterosexuals everywhere (and more sensitive-minded non-homosexuals) should abandon the word 'gay' as a lost cause. (Much like the New York Times — zing?)

Alex Balk (#4)

Maybe that's why Choire always calls me "faggot" when he's mad at me.

MatthewGallaway (#1,239)

I will always remember being in first grade when I called this girl Stacey ___ a 'faggot' and one of my friends was like 'umm, you can't call a girl a faggot' and I was like 'why the fuck not?' (Sadly I did not have access to the NYT Magazine at this point in my life to educate me.)

roboloki (#1,724)

you can call a girl named stacey a faggot and you can call a boy named stacey a cunt. take back your language!
i love to call a woman a motherfucker.
it tickles me.
deep down.
where it really counts.

Abe Sauer (#148)

You guys are all such pussies.

whoneedslight (#758)

We used to play Smear the Queer when I was a kid (basically football). Seems a touch more offensive than "that is so gay."

Abe Sauer (#148)

We played this too; until the school stopped us but not because we called it smear the queer but because a kid broke his arm.

whoneedslight (#758)

There's always that damn broken arm kid. Lame.

brad (#1,678)

Smear the Queer.

it sounds much more gross than i remember. smear what on the queer, exactly?

my grandfather had a nickname for me; squirt-tail. it wasn't until i was 16 that my father mentioned that it was fairly disgusting. i had never given it a moments thought. i don't remember pooping on gramps.

Hez (#147)

This modern world with all its newfangledry and change… a girl looks for permanence wherever she can find it. "Cuntface" still means what I hope it does, right?

keisertroll (#1,117)

As someone who while growing up recieved more than his fair share of anti-gay remarks (not to mention being called "retarded" enough to make me feel like crap all the time), I can't help but be a little jealous of those who at least have some semblance of support around. They couldn't have known that I was gay when they teased me (hell, I didn't come out to myself until I was twenty). But looking back this was at least one instance where "political correctness" would've made things better, at least on my part.

I'm really glad that kids now can come out as early as middle school. I just wish that I would've been able to have those opportunities ten, fifteen years ago.

Rod T (#33)


ProfessorBen (#1,254)

Same for 'hey cocksucker', or 'i took it up the ass on that one', or 'they fucked us over hard'… Hello!??!?? Those are GOOD THINGS!

We should all use "That's So Raven" instead.

HiredGoons (#603)

GOD Yes!

Moff (#28)

Ehhh, I waited on Raven once. She was really sweet and polite, and she left me a giant tip. I vote no.

HiredGoons (#603)

Can't we just replace 'gay' 'lame' and 'dumb' with 'Canadian?'

Hez (#147)

Real nice, pal. Why you gotta hate on us frostbacks?

Just want to take a moment to applaud the South Park still.

Fifi (#1,639)

The Flintstones' old time was totally gay.

subu (#1,745)

Rod, are those silk pants you have on? Your pic, as well as your name, is a bit suggestive.

Being disrespectful toward homosexuals, Canadians, women ("pussy" is only one of MANY misogynist terms), etc., is bad. Showing your dick head is good.

If those aren't silk breeches, you need to retire those babies (else, you soon may be referred to as a "pussy").

pixieg (#10,184)

"Katy Perry also recorded the song 'You're So Gay'. It sounds homophobic but, of course, she's using the other, fashionable version of the word meaning 'anything generally bad', and anyone who thinks that sounds offensive should just jew off, and stop being so bloody black about it."

(Simon Amstell)

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