People Try To Explain Why They Say “That’s So Gay” In New Documentary

What can be done to reverse the phrase's "evolution?"

For every person you’ll find using the phrase “that’s so gay” as a derogatory slur to describe things that are uncool, you’ll find a person who swears they’re not using it in a homophobic way.

At least for young people, the word “gay” has become synonymous with “lame.” But where did that come from? And why don’t the people who use it think it’s problematic?

Related: Hilary Duff’s Iconic 2008 “That’s So Gay” Commercial

Student filmmaker Amy Ashenden sets out to answer these puzzling question in a new documentary, The Gay Word.

Writing for The Guardian, Ashenden said she noticed an unmistakable pattern while interviewing diverse groups of people across England:

Some gay people I spoke to were content with the word evolving, while there were straight people who were outraged. Younger people, whom we might have expected to have more awareness of what it means to identify as gay because of media coverage, were often the demographic defending the negative use of this word.

Many older people I spoke to felt strongly that it should it not be allowed to be used negatively. The language we use, consciously or subconsciously, can reflect our feelings towards minorities.

Ashenden said after making the documentary, she believes much could be done in schools to teach young people how offensive this decisive language can actually be, and that “saying ’eurgh, that’s gay’ reveals a lack of collective understanding of what it means to identify as gay.”

“Until this changes, young people will continue to grow up feeling that the word ’gay’ means alien, embarrassing, stupid, or wrong.”

You can watch the documentary in full below.

Matthew Tharrett is a writer, filmmaker, and above all else, a Britney fan. He once shared a milkshake with Selena Gomez.
@mattharrett