Gay - Generalized Pejorative Use

Generalized Pejorative Use

When used with a derisive attitude (e.g. "that was so gay"), the word gay is pejorative. While retaining its other meanings, it has also acquired "a widespread current usage" amongst young people, as a general term of disparagement. This pejorative usage has its origins in the late 1970s. Beginning in the 1980s and especially in the late 1990s, the usage as a generic insult became common among young people.

This usage of the word has been criticized as homophobic. A 2006 BBC ruling by the Board of Governors over the use of the word in this context by Chris Moyles on his Radio 1 show, "I do not want that one, it's gay," advises "caution on its use" for this reason:

"The word ‘gay’, in addition to being used to mean ‘homosexual’ or ‘carefree’, was often now used to mean ‘lame’ or ‘rubbish’. This is a widespread current usage of the word amongst young people... The word 'gay' ... need not be offensive... or homophobic ... The governors said, however, that Moyles was simply keeping up with developments in English usage. ... The committee... was "familiar with hearing this word in this context." The governors believed that in describing a ring tone as 'gay', the DJ was conveying that he thought it was 'rubbish', rather than 'homosexual'. ... The panel acknowledged however that this use... in a derogatory sense... could cause offence in some listeners, and counselled caution on its use. —BBC Board of Governors,

The BBC's ruling was heavily criticised by the Minister for Children, Kevin Brennan, who stated in response that "the casual use of homophobic language by mainstream radio DJs" is:

"too often seen as harmless banter instead of the offensive insult that it really represents. ... To ignore this problem is to collude in it. The blind eye to casual name-calling, looking the other way because it is the easy option, is simply intolerable." —Tony Grew,

Shortly after the Moyles incident a campaign against homophobia was launched in Britain under the slogan "homophobia is gay", playing on the double meaning of the word "gay" in youth culture.

Read more about this topic:  Gay

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