As much as the word Gay has changed its meaning over the centuries, sayings using the word Gay have changed as well. A new documentary from young filmmaker Amy Ashenden examines the resurgence of young people saying “that’s so gay” to see whether that phrase is homophobic or whether, in her words, “language has evolved.”
The documentary was filmed in London and the south of England and involved interviews with a range gay or straight people across all ages and interviews with researchers, professors and LGBT community leaders to explore the use of the word.
Writing in The Guardian UK, Ashenden discusses her observation that “gay” is often used to mean “bad”:
“When I was growing up, I noticed something about the word ‘gay’. The more prevalent it became, the more negative its connotations. A word that originally meant happy and carefree became a neutral label to describe homosexuality, and ended up being a term used to pinpoint something people don’t like, find embarrassing, or want to distance themselves from.”
Ashenden suggests that “gay” is being used as a negative descriptor more and more by today’s youth.
Which made her wonder whether this means young people are more homophobic than ever before?
With that question as her starting point, Ashenden set out to see if using the word “gay” in a negative way is ever not homophobic.
In her documentary The Gay Word, many agreed with her suggestion that it does sound negative and could be concluded that the person is homophobic.
On the other side of the discussion, she also spoke with a sociologist who argues that saying “that’s so gay” isn’t homophobic, along with an activist from an LGBT organization who wants us all to “get the meaning straight.”
“In making this film, I’ve learned just how much of a loaded term gay is,” explained Ashenden.
Ultimately, she believes that we can’t overlook the damage that’s done when we conflate a word that describes someone’s identity with something negative: “Saying ‘eurgh, that’s gay’ reveals a lack of collective understanding of what it means to identify as gay.”
Watch Ashenden’s entire documentary ‘A Gay Word’, below.
Last Updated on Dec 27, 2015