When someone uses the word “fag” in a non-malicious sense, does it bother you? Over at the subreddit /r/askgaybros, redditor Fukkthisgame asked that very same question — he’s not really bothered by it, but is he an outlier? Is “fag” a word like “queer” — a hateful word that’s been reclaimed? Or like “punk”, where its meaning evolved away from its homophobic definition? Or is it a word that still has the power to hurt, even when used casually?
Some people aren’t bothered by the word anymore:
It’s a word and because it is a word it holds no power over me. A words meaning can and has changed to adapt to the culture and it’s use, there is nothing stopping us from taking any word and making it demeaning, the opposite is true as well we can take all of these words of hate and make them useless to those that would berate us, all it takes is time and the will to do so.
being 1/2 Dominican and 1/2 black…I grew up hearing waaaay worse about gay people. I guess I grew thick skin. but the Spanish word “maricón” always struck me as more harsh than the word “fag”.
Well I mean. “Only a ginger can call another ginger ginger.” It all depend who is using it. If straight people use it to poke fun or indicate that something is bad by using those words I would tell them its not okay. If gay guys use it for whatever reason they think its fun, its a-okay with me. Context is also key as well.
Others disagreed, saying “fag” isn’t to be uttered:
When people use any demeaning word whether it be “fag” or the n word I honestly just pity them. To live your life in the scope of being entirely prejudice and judgmental kind of blows my mind. I get off on kindness, so I always try to be open, understanding, and above all compassionate. Those poor souls who are trapped in century old bigotry will never truly be happy with their lives. Poor them.
For me, that word made me resent myself. When I’m with friends and someone says “omg (their name here) is a fag!” It really kinda makes me want to punch them.
My gay friends use it but it still bothers me, mostly because when I was younger that was the word people taunted me with. I call my friends homos and whatnot, but “fag” just sounds so harsh and brings back all the shit I took as a kid.
There were some ambivalent responses:
I call my gay friends fags and stuff and I don’t mind when they say that to me. Since coming out, I’ve noticed a lot more people (mostly straight guys, but some girls too) think it’s funny to say fag underneath their breath as I’m walking away from them (as in like leaving their house after hanging out or w/e). I have removed those people from my life.
Eh, somewhat. Generally no, I don’t like it, and I’m kind of in support of us taking back the word, but it feels a little soon (“I’m white and I can’t say the N-word? That’s racist against me?” but without the hundred or so years of education) and if gay people all started saying it homophobic people might do so, too. Though in casual conversation with gay friends we use it occasionally.
But if it’s used toward me in a way intentionally trying to be offensive I’ll usually get more aggressive than i was before that.
I don’t like it but I wouldn’t get offended by another guy who I knew was gay calling me fag. It would make me less inclined to talk to him. That word has such a negative connotation that I just feel uncomfortable hearing it said. Plus, it’s a clunky word. I just don’t like the word.
That’s so gay never bothered me, simply because it’s usually said by jocks who think they’re cool for saying it, or teenagers who feel the same.
I’ve never been called a punk and never heard it used to refer to gay people.
And, of course, a Brit weighed in:
Where I live a fag is a cigarette and you’d be amazed how it just blends into conversations. It often takes a few seconds for it to register if used to describe a person.
But in our eyes, this one won the thread:
I think of it this way, as soon as we live in a world where no one is killing themselves because society (or their own community) has taught them that that would be better than living gay then I’ll be ok hearing it. Or when I want to travel to any civilized part of the world and not have to remember to ask myself “is this a homophobic country where I could be thrown in jail or lynched for being gay”, then I’ll be ok hearing it. Until then I hate that word. Maybe this is personal to me because I’ve seen first hand what the hate of that word can do having lost a friend to suicide. I’m strong enough that personally the word doesn’t bother me. But for the sake of those with thinner skin than mine and those who are no longer with us I will never let anyone in my presence use that word without consequence. I scold my friends when they use it but I will not back down from this.
What do you think? Assuming the word isn’t being used in anger or as abuse, do you care about “fag”? Do you use the word yourself?
(Featured image via Steven Depolo/Flickr)