Whether it is at school, in our neighborhood, or maybe even at home, many of us have heard "That is sooo gay!" It may occasionally cause a burst of laughter, a grin to spread across one's face, or maybe even a smirk. Since this is heard so often in many distinct communities, have we ever actually asked ourselves what "gay" means?
Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines it as "1. Merry; 2. Bright, Lively; 3. Brilliant in color; 4. Given to social pleasure;" and then there is the fifth definition "Homosexual". However, that is just the dictionary's depiction of "gay". I mean when someone says, "That is sooo gay!" could they possibly be saying either "That is so merry!" or "That is so homosexual!"? I mean it's just the dictionary; what do dictionaries know these days? When most Whyvillians say this they probably mean something entirely different. Right? This was what I thought before I went out into Whyville to interview everyday inhabitants of our community about the phrase, "That is sooo gay!"
Ten random Whyvillians were asked "Have you ever heard the term, 'That's so gay'?' and 'Do you think it means gay/homosexual?'" To protect identities, I calculated the percentages depending on the answers given to these questions. 90% of the interviewed Whyvillians have heard "That's so gay" before which means that only 10% hadn't heard it, or one person. On the other hand, 30% thought it actually meant homosexual, if anyone would say it, 30% were not sure, and 40% were convinced that "That's so gay" just meant "uncool".
If most of Whyvillians believe that this term simply means "uncool" or "dumb", then why can't we say, "That's so uncool" instead of "That's so gay"? Many of us realize the real definition of gay that is still out there, which is homosexual, because only 10% of the Whyvillians interviewed actually thought that gay once meant "merry" or "bright". If this is so, then why do we constantly continue to use the word, "gay" if that is not what we mean when we say, "That's so gay"? Will it make us popular? Will we become more likable among our companions? When people say, "That is sooo gay!" are they becoming accepted in society . . . for discriminating? I leave you, my fair Whyvillians, to ponder these questions in your minds while I move on and tell you the story of Lawrence King, a 15-year-old teenager that was shot in the head by one of the classmates simply for being gay.
Lawrence King was a teenager that lived in Oxnard, California. King attended E.O. Green Junior High School. A couple of days before February 14, 2008, King asked one of his male classmates to be his valentine. On February 12, that same classmate, Brandon McInerney, aged 14, went up to King and shot him. By February 13, King was declared brain-dead. King passed on on February 14. Now, there are charges being pressed against McInerney, but is there justice?
For all we know, Brandon McInerney can go to jail, but these type of hate crimes can continue to happen and simple and "childish" words like "gay" can continue to hurt others.
What is the point being made here? It can be up to the court to decide how to punish McInerney for now, but isn't it up to us, Whyvillians, "leaders of tomorrow" to decide what justice will be like for our future? If we answer "yes", then we should most certainly start acting like so. It all can start by thinking before we say, "That is sooo gay!"