Home » News

The power of words in the LGBTQ community

4 December 2013 No Comment

The University of Alberta is studying how offensive terms are being used on social media, in relation to the LGBTQ community. On Nohomophobes.com, the results can be monitored in real time, displaying the four most homophobic and commonly-used terms, along with the tweets that contain them.

Local activist Deirdre Pike has been keeping an eye on this website. Out of the four terms being used; faggot, dyke, no homo, and “that’s so gay”, the word faggot is used the most.

“It’s the most violent, offensive word to refer to a gay man because it refers to being burned at the stake and using gay men’s bodies to burn people at the stake,” says Pike.

In popular culture, the phrase “that’s so gay” is thrown around casually without any thought as to the implications behind it.

“I have a great concern that people use the word gay as an offensive insult, taking somebody’s identity and using it as an insult- it’s not just offensive, it actually causes damage to young people’s psyche, if they do identify as gay,” says Pike. “And then all day long they hear people say ‘that’s so gay,’ meaning bad, stupid, wrong or ugly.”

Mohawk’s Social Inc. is trying to create an open dialogue about issues such as these. Marco Felvus heads the centre, and has personally experienced the pain that words cause, with specific reference to the word ‘fag.’

“It cuts you a little bit deeper, and often times it cuts you because that word carries so much rejection in it,” says Felvus. “I remember when I came out, I was rejected by a lot of people … So when I hear that word fag, or homosexual, you’re so gay or that’s so gay, I think about those feelings of rejection.”

For people who are interested in watching their language when referring to the LGBTQ community, the word queer appears to be the safest and most inclusive term, according to both Felvus and Pike.
“I’m very comfortable with the word queer because it’s such a nice umbrella term; it can mean a lot of different things,” says Felvus.

“If you identify as an ally, you have worked to understand the realities of the LGBTQ people, and it’s an ongoing work so you continue to do that,” says Pike, “then you would come to understand the reclaiming of language like the word queer.”

Comments are closed.