gay men faggot
gay men faggot

Are Gay Men Allowed to Say the Word ‘F*ggot?’ (Video)

Comedian Michael Henry begins his latest video with the question, “Can we still say ‘faggot?'”

His friend responds, “Michael! No! I don’t think you can say that!”

“It’s derogatory. It’s filled with so much hate,” another adds.

“Let’s put it this way: if they said it on Bravo, they’d have to bleep it,” they clarify.

While Henry takes on a controversial subject in our community with some humor, his video does bring up interesting talking points. The conversation is one that could easily happen in any circle of gay friends, at any gay bar or over any gay brunch.

The conversation continues to explore what the word actually refers to when gay men use it.

“Do you think a fag is a type of gay? Like Elton John?”

“Is it a noun and an adjective?”

Henry concludes, “It seems like context is kind of important here.”

So, can gay man use the word “faggot?”

Many people question if marginalized groups can reclaim derogatory slurs historically (and currently) used against them.

In “Faggots, Punks and Prostitutes: The Evolving Language of Gay Men,” Peter Robinson writes,

What is also interesting is the way in which sexual outcasts could adopt terms of abuse used for them and turn them into terms of endearment for each other — as my friends and I did in the 1980s when we called ourselves fags. And so, self mockery becomes a form of defense against the strictures of the priests and preachers.

That young, gay men are now starting to reclaim these words is significant. It could mean that they are becoming interested in finding out where they have came from, that is, what are the origins of the culture they inhabit?

Twenty-one years ago, AIDS, which was then the dominant concern for gay men and culture, ceased to be a death sentence and instead became a manageable disease. Young men who have grown up since then could feel that other aspects of gay life can now be explored with greater freedom.

If this is so, it would suggest a strengthening of gay culture and community because people can only start exploring their past, warts and all, when they feel safe.

The book We Did What?! Offensive and Inappropriate Behavior in American History explains:

“Ultimately the meaning of a slur and its impact depend on the nature of a relationship between the speaker and the listener and their intentions. Members within a particular ethnic, racial, or gender group may use slurs among themselves, not intending to hurt each other or even as terms of endearment … The uses of slurs might sound offensive to listeners who do not understand the relationship between the speaker and listener or they do not understand that they mean no harm”

This reminds us of Henry’s conclusion in his video. But not everyone agrees.

Matthew Tharrett protests in his piece, “No, Everyone, It’s Not Okay To ‘Reclaim’ The Word ‘Faggot'”:

No, you’re not allowed to appropriate “faggot” to mean something positive. It’s not a positive word. The next time you call someone “faggot” in an endearing way, remember that it’s the last word LGBT victims all over the world heard moments before they were murdered.

gay word faggot

The answer remains unclear.

Maybe it comes down to singular preference: a person’s ability to decide if they accept or don’t accept the word for themselves. Do we have that right as gay men to either choose to reclaim the word or not to?

While we are all “gay men,” we are all very different. Our differences to this one question are clear when in 2015, One Word did a word association exercise with 30 gay men who responded to the word faggot.

One responds, “It depends on who says it, actually. I would use it. I’m a faggot. Because once I use the word it no longer has power.”

Another replies, “Oh… I don’t like that word. Um, even when like other gay guys call me, “Faggot.” I’m like, “I don’t really like it.”

“No matter who it is coming from, like my initial reaction is, “Ew,” but then usually it’s just like being sassy and owning the word.”

What do you think? Can gay men use the word “faggot”?