I just finished reading a blog/article that slammed the use of the words “fag” and “queen.” And it got me thinking…
I believe I’ve mentioned this before: Someone a long time ago told me something like, “We give words their meaning” or “We give words their power.” What I gathered from that was, “We choose how words affect us.” And I’ve mostly lived by this nifty little phrase.
But my thinking on this issue is constantly challenged and this blog post was the latest one. It criticized a gay Vanity Fair writer for using “fags” to talk about gay people in Glee (yay, Glee!) and it criticized Hugh Grant for saying it hurts less in rugby if you tackle hard than if you tackle like a “queen.” The blog/article (whatever) said that both men had apologized. This is where I’m conflicted.
On one hand, I get it. “Fag” is a derrogatory term for gays. I don’t like being called a fag and I prefer not to use it. But I’ve heard nearly every gay man I know refer to his “fag hag.”
We can’t have it both ways.
So again I say: We give words their power. We choose what to do when anyone calls us a bad name, whether it’s about our sexual orientation, race, gender, size, etc. A vast majority of people have heard (and probably said) some slur at some point. And they’ll probably hear (or say) them in the future. But how we let it affect us is up to us. And what we choose to do after we hear it is up to us, too.
We can’t be the world’s word police, but we can have an individual impact. If using words like “fag” bothers you, tell the people you surround yourself with to stop using it or surround yourself with different people. And don’t use it yourself and say, “Oh, but it’s OK if I use it.”
Or is it?
What do you think?