“That’s So Gay” Let’s be Honest It’s Probably Not…


Well said Stonewall!

For quite some time now I’ve been contemplating the use of terms such as ‘gay’ in its colloquial sense and thinking about the repercussions this has on our community.

I’m always listening out for it in music and film, as I feel it’s a good place to start when considering such language and its place within society.

While this blog has been a long time coming, in-keeping with Stonewall’s campaign this week drawing attention to the use of the term ‘gay’, it seemed the right time to talk about it.

Confession: I’m a huge Eminem fan.

But the recent uproar in discussion about his apparent homophobic lyrics in ‘Rap God’ made me question this. I know I love his music: it evokes passion and emotion in me, just as I believe good music should.

However, should I, as an LGBT person avoid his music because certain lyrics can be read as homophobic?

While Eminem has hit back at accusations suggesting the homophobic lyrics are spoken by his character Slim Shady who represents the dark side of American society, this does not necessarily make it ok.

To present such views, even if you are claiming they are not your personal views, still encourages such a viewpoint in the mainstream. On the other hand, it has generated discussion surrounding homophobia and hip-hop music: an issue Macklemore recently drew attention to in his song ‘Same Love’.

Discussion is the vehicle for progression, so in a way homophobic lyrics can be turned on their head and used as a trigger for discussion and therefore changing peoples understanding of homophobia.

Drawing attention to homophobia draws attention to what is sometimes referred to as ‘heteronormativity’ – the normalising of heterosexuality, and therefore the dismissal or ‘othering‘ of any other sexual identity.

Many people are unaware of the inequality and prejudice that still exists within society and, therefore, don’t even consider that change is necessary. When you are outside of a minority it is often hard to understand how that group may struggle to fit within wider society.

Drawing attention to this, and bringing it to the mainstream to generate discussion could be a stepping point to change.

Eminem has hit back at accusations suggesting that in the rap battle circuit ‘faggot’ was not actually specifically referring to homosexuals, but more a general insult such as ‘bitch or punk’.

Considering interviews with the rapper (where he has reputed homophobic accusations, and shown support of gay marriage) alongside his collaborations with LGBT artists, or LGBT icons (Sia, Elton John, P!nk, Nate Ruess) it becomes fairly clear Eminem is not actually homophobic.

Queer artist Sia has stated on twitter,

“I know personally that he (Eminem) is not homophobic, but a performance artist”

But it begs the question, is it possible to use ‘faggot’ and ‘gay’ out of context as insults, and not have repercussions on the LGBT community?

I don’t think so.

As Macklemore says:

‘Gay is synonymous with the lesser’

and it is too true.

In the past I used the word gay to mean rubbish, frustrating, bad: all the normal colloquial uses.

But I now agree with Macklemore and I think as a community we need to start reclaiming these terms, and avoiding the more negative connotations tied to them in order to change their use and the association with our community.

Change starts with us.

Click for more information on Stonewall’s Anti-bullying week, ‘Gay: Let’s get the meaning straight‘.

Anne Loveday is a film student who is obsessed with questioning what culture teaches and tells us, particularly about the concept of normality.
In short, a film-loving, open-water-swimming, culture-obsessed, music addict.



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