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Queer Talk: Don’t Say “That’s So Gay” [VIDEO]


The phrase “That’s so gay” is obviously meant as a pejorative, dismissive, sneering sort of thing. Consider the negative use of that phrase, and the return of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Tennessee. State Sen. Stacey Campfield (R) has reintroduced his bill — which he calls the “Classroom Protection Act” — with a bit of a change. Last time around, it was basically about prohibiting any classroom conversation about the “gays,” thus tagged “Don’t Say Gay” by those opposing it. Campfield has added a requirement for schools to notify parents if their son or daughter is suspected to engage in, well, gay stuff.

So here’s the thing: Campfield has openly and consistently made known his opposition to all things gay / homosexual, and while I don’t know if he uses the “that’s so gay” phrase, his intent — if in legislative jargon — is very similar. If the “Don’t Say Gay” bill passes, then at least in Tennessee schools, students, teachers and staff could not use “that’s so gay” to express (for those who share the perspective) the anti-gay put-down. And, of course, they mean LGBTQ, or just anything not straight ahead heterosexual when using “gay” and “homosexual.”

Stephen Colbert recently talked about “Don’t Say Gay,” (you can see the video at the link) and noted that in a sense, Campfield — with the addition of the requirement to report suspected gayness — has gone from “don’t say gay” to “Gaayyyyy!” The Advocate reported on Colbert’s “Don’t Say Gay” segment:

The host of The Colbert Report noted that in a recent interview with TMZ Live, Campfield described gay activists as ‘the biggest bullies in the world,’ to which Colbert responded, ‘It’s well known. Homosexuals, notorious bullies. Many of them spend their teenage years mercilessly ramming their face into the football team’s fists.’ …

He also said of the bill, ‘It’s not about ostracizing gay students into a life of loneliness. It’s all about education. We are teaching these children, isolated by their identity, that there is absolutely no adult that they can trust.’

A report from WGNS Radio regarding a recent poll quotes Dr. Jason Reineke, associate director of the poll, at Middle Tennessee State University:

‘Though Tennesseans may be fairly characterized as extremely opposed to same-sex marriage at this point, whether and how homosexuality should be addressed in public schools is a very different matter.” …

A solid 62 percent majority of Tennesseans oppose ‘allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally …” …

Somewhat paradoxically, though, a 57 percent majority oppose ‘a law forbidding any instruction or discussion of homosexuality in eighth grade and lower classes in Tennessee public schools,’ the key provision of the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill under consideration by the state Legislature. Only 31 percent support such a law, 8 percent are undecided, and the rest decline to answer.

Similarly, nearly half (49 percent) oppose ‘a law requiring school counselors and nurses in Tennessee’s public schools to notify parents if they believe a student has engaged in homosexual activity, but not if a student has engaged in heterosexual activity.’

You can read the bill here.

About the “that’s so gay” as a negative thing, watch the video below for a good argument about why it’s something that shouldn’t be used.

She Wired has this on the speech: (emphasis added)

While speaking to a crowd of more than 800 people at an event in Boulder, Colo., Ash Beckham decimated the pejorative use of the word gay with a powerful, resonant five-minute speech.

Beckham was speaking as part of a series sponsored by Ignite Boulder, which challenges speakers to make an impact in exactly five minutes, accompanied by 20 visual slides, set to auto-advance every 15 seconds.

Beckham delivered her speech on February 21 at Ignite Boulder 20, self-described as “Public speaking + public geeking.”

Noting that she might be preaching to the ‘gay-loving choir’ in Boulder, a liberal college town just outside of Denver, Beckham nonetheless insists on the importance of pushing for acceptance. ‘You can legislate tolerance,’ she says. ‘You can’t legislate acceptance. That takes a societal shift.

I’d say that Sen. Campfield should watch this, but he’d probably just claim that Beckham is a bully. And besides, his interest is in legislating not tolerance, but intolerance, under the guise of “Classroom Protection.”

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