An  Article  about  Sexuality 

If you call someone gay, he better be a guy who likes guys.

View this article in handy printable graphic form if you don’t feel up to reading 400 words.

Gay isn’t a bad word, assuming you’re using it to describe a man who is attracted (physically, spiritually, and emotionally) to other men, (depending on label preference) a woman who is attracted to women, or anyone else who self-identifies as gay.  In that case, feel comfortable using the word gay.  But that’s the extent of it.

Gay has been turned into a bad word by people who have chosen to use it as an insult.  “Gay” is often used in exchange for “stupid”, “annoying”, “girly”, and “[any other negative word]”.  It’s become so common, in fact, that people will call something gay without even realizing the word is normally attached to sexuality, which is something a car, no matter how “gay” you might think it is, cannot be associated with.

A car can’t be gay.

The word gay has become so synonymous with bad that people often feel uncomfortable using it correctly.  I’ve experience well-intentioned people stumbling over the word gay to describe someone who is actually gay, saying things like, “he’s ga–uh… homosexual.”  In this case, gay is the right word to use.  Homosexual is a medical term, and not one that creates comfort within the gay community.  It’s a problem when people struggle to use the correct word to describe something, because it’s become so slanted by people charging it with hate and ignorance.

What’s worse: the way many of us use the word “gay” has become damaging to LGBTQ people and straight people alike.  It’s an insult to call someone straight “gay”, and the fact that that’s an insult is incredibly harmful to people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual.  The video of Jonah above is a great example of this.

New rule: if you’re talking about a dude who likes dudes (or, again, depending on preference, a gal who likes gals), use the word “gay”; if you’re not, don’t.  It’s that simple.  Good?  Good.

Update! Here’s the thing, gang. A lot of groups I didn’t mention in this post also identify as “gay”. This includes (but is certainly not limited to) some women who love women, some trans-identified folks, some genderqueer folks, some agender folks, and more. It’s not a term limited strictly to men who are attracted to men, as it’s semantically defined. If this sounds overwhelming, it shouldn’t. If you’re not sure what to call someone, just follow the platinum rule and ask.


Add Your Voice

About the Author

Sam Killermann Self Portrait

Hi! I'm Sam Killermann. I'm the author of A Guide to Gender: The Social Justice Advocate's Handbook, and I was featured in Katie Couric's NatGeo documentary "Gender Revolution". I created It's Pronounced Metrosexual in 2011. I write everything here and doodle the doodles myself. Bonus: everything I create is uncopyrighted and freely accessible — I even coded (& open-sourced) this site itself, my gift to you. Read More →

All of my work is directly supported by patronage, so if you appreciate what I'm doing you can pay me to keep doing it. I bet you'll also dig these other things I made: