November 22, 2013
Editor rejects, rebukes the "f-word"I hear the word faggot at least once a day, every day. It's used so casually now that it seems like it should be harmless, right?
I'll be the first to admit that it didn't always make me shudder the way it does now. Like a lot of people in our generation, I had no idea that it had anything to do with homosexuality when I learned it growing up. I used it and never thought about the implications of what I was saying or how that word was being perceived by those around me.
But once I learned what it actually meant, and found out that I had close friends who had been harassed with it by people they didn't even know, I changed my tune.
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me."
We're taught this growing up any time we're being bullied, but it has been proven wrong again and again in recent years.
My freshman year, there was an "epidemic" of LGBT suicides. But when you actually read the articles, a lot of the kids never "came out."
There's no proof that they identified as anything other than straight. But they were called "gay," and they were called "faggots." It didn't matter if those terms were correct or incorrect in terms of their identity; they still affected those children enough that it was a main factor in them taking their own life.
It doesn't matter if you don't associate the word faggot with homosexuality; society has done that for us. No matter your intention, this word can hurt others a lot more than you intend, even if it's just someone hearing you use it.
When words are used in a negative manner for so long, there are many people who try to reclaim them. I once discussed the reclamation of the word "fag" with one of my homosexual male friends.
The hurt in his eyes was almost unbearable for me when he said, "It's a lot easier to reclaim a word when it hasn't been yelled at you while you're walking down the street."
For him, the memory of the hateful way that word had been used against him resonated every time he heard the word used, even if it wasn't directed at him.
It's hard to stop using a word that you grew up using. It took me over a year to get "faggot" out of my vernacular, but I think it's one of the most important things that I've done.
It stopped me from causing unintentional harm, and it made me more aware of the effects that my words can have on others.
You never know who's going to hear you say something.
You could inadvertently hurt someone, or you could get hurt yourself because of the person that you pissed off. You could cut off a conversation with someone that may have changed your life for the better. You never know what harm you might be doing.
So I hope you'll think twice, or even three times, before using that word again.
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