In the beginning of the semester, I came back to my room and noticed this little note of affection. Obviously, I know the anonymous message was not left with positive intent, but the only thought I had was, “Did someone really think this would insult me?”
The Only Thing That Made Me Sad About This: Someone Thought It Was An Insult
Of all the actual insults they could have used, they chose a word that represents a group of people? I’m only insulted by the fact this person had no original creativity in their words. No zest. So basic.
So I drew a little heart next to their “insult,” and left my name tag on my door. People approached me various times and asked if I had seen what happened. When I responded with, “yes of course I have to look at it to get into my room,” they all asked a variety of questions.
Why wasn’t I upset?
Why didn’t I take it down?
Who did I think would write such a thing on my name tag?
Wasn’t that word a little inappropriate to keep up on my name tag?
As an RA, one of my responsibilities is to be an example for other people and teach lessons through my actions. I answered all of their questions.
“Gay” isn’t an insult.
“Gay” isn’t an insult.
Who did it doesn’t matter, because their opinions of me don’t matter. Especially if they are foolish enough to think that “gay” is an insult.
“Gay” isn’t a “bad word.” So, no. The name tag isn’t inappropriate.
AND THEN IT HIT ME AS HARD AS REGINA GEORGE GETTING HIT BY A BUS:
Okay, okay. This statement may seem obvious, but really think about it. When someone’s intentions are purely to cause aggravation, they take pleasure out of every ounce of rebound that comes their way.
In other words:
when the person who gets called gay is offended,
when people push back against the offender and tell them they are wrong,
when the offender gets attention through any irritated response,
they get what they wanted.
When you are in a situation where someone uses the term “gay” as an insult, don’t get insulted. I mean it. Part of the problem is that we still respond to the word “gay” as if it were an insult. We can’t get insulted and aggravated by the use of a word that we claim isn’t insulting.
I’ve used that name tag every time I’ve been on-call this semester to show the author of the anonymous message that I’m not offended. Yes, making a point to put the name tag up on my door does acknowledge anonymous’s attempt of offense, but they may have thought that I was embarrassed or insulted if I threw it away (which is not what I want).
When someone tries to offensively use the word “gay”:
Let them know you heard their attempt, without actually saying you heard them and without telling them they’re wrong.
Let them realize you’re blatantly ignoring their ignorance and that their words have no impact.
And the purposefully offensive people, being the children they are, will run to the next action that will give them the attention they desperately crave.
Gay was once an adjective used solely to describe something lighthearted and carefree. Be just that.