When did “gay” start being an insult?
I remember as early as Year 2 in Primary School my wonderful teacher, Mrs. Trivett, telling us as 7 year olds that “gay” means “happy” or “two men that love each other”. But as I grew up through school, I remember “gay” quickly became an insult and was used in such a derogatory way. I admit I was guilty of this for a long time until our headteacher gave a moving assembly that changed the way I thought about it.
“Queer” is now an adjective used by some people whose sexual orientation is not exclusively heterosexual. Once used in a derogatory way, it has been reclaimed by some LGBTQIA people to describe themselves.
Our words have power and it matters what we say. I hope that it is ignorance, rather than homophobia when “gay” or “queer” is used to describe something or someone. But often it’s not. Either way, we can call it out and educate people. We can do this in a loving way, with the intention of teaching and not offending. We change the culture when we choose to speak up for those whose voices have been oppressed for so long.