Search Browse On This Day Map Quotations Timeline Research Free Datasets Remembered About Contact

Journalist declares 'gay now means rubbish'

Thu 21 Nov 2013 In: International News

Brendan O'Neill says Stonewall is fighting a losing battle with its new schools campaign. A journalist for the UK‘s Daily Telegraph claims the meaning of the word gay is now “rubbish, or pathetic, or lame.” Brendan O’Neill has written that youth culture has altered the meaning of the word “gay” in the same way it has changed words such as “bare” or “mad” or “ill.” He says Stonewall is fighting a losing battle with its new schools campaign with the slogan “Gay. Let’s get over it”. He says: “When youth culture starts fiddling with particular words, little can be done about it. Imagine if the General Medical Council launched a campaign to get schoolchildren to use the word ‘sick’ properly – it would be laughed out of every school in the land and probably find itself branded ‘whack’ (an American word for ‘bad’, now being imported by British youth, who of course can’t say ‘bad’ anymore because bad means good). “It’s the same with Stonewall – its schools campaign is unlikely to have much traction with yoof for whom gay now only means lame.” He added: “This language is not directed at gay people, in order to make them feel inferior – it’s simply used to describe things. Most young people who say ‘that’s gay’ are no more being homophobic than a person who uses the word ‘black’ to mean depressing is being racist. “There’s a debate to be had over why the word gay specifically came to mean rubbish. “My penny’s worth, as I’ve argued before, is that it’s because what is now presented to us as ‘gay culture’ is often quite knowingly naff, camp, shallow stuff, leading young people who have been exposed to such culture through pop music and TV to associate ‘gay’ with ‘rubbish’. “But that’s a debate for another time. For now, we have to face up this fact: Gay now means rubbish. Get over it.” Stonewall’s campaign is fronted by Will Young and comes in response to research showing 99 per cent of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people hear phrases such as ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘you’re so gay’ in school. It says 84 per cent are distressed when they hear this homophobic language. Posters, sent to schools across Britain, state clearly: ‘Gay. Let’s get over it’. The posters are accompanied by new guidance for both pupils and teachers to enable them to challenge the derogatory use of the word gay. Will Young says the word ‘gay’ is currently used as one of the worst insults by young people of all ages in Britain’s schools. “It’s clear from the shocking levels of self-harm and suicide among gay young people that we’re failing an entire generation. It’s time to take a stand and put a stop to this deeply damaging use of homophobic language.” Stonewall’s Deputy Chief Executive Ruth Hunt says “We know that many people who casually use the term ‘that’s so gay’ don’t intentionally mean to be offensive. But the reality is that their words cause hurt and distress. That’s why we’re launching this flagship campaign so teachers and parents have the resources to tackle the problem head on. We want every young person, teacher and parent in Britain to challenge this language and change the culture of our schools.”    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 21st November 2013 - 10:03am

Rights Information

This page displays a version of a article that was automatically harvested before the website closed. All of the formatting and images have been removed and some text content may not have been fully captured correctly. The article is provided here for personal research and review and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of If you have queries or concerns about this article please email us