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June 07, 2006

BBC Governors Committee Rules: "Gay" Not A Slur

O! Happy day!

THE word “gay” now means “rubbish” in modern playground-speak and need not be offensive to homosexuals, the BBC Board of Governors has ruled.

A listener complained after Chris Moyles dismissed a ringtone by saying on his Radio 1 breakfast show: “I don’t want that one, it’s gay.”

The complainant argued that the use of the word gay in this context was homophobic. The governors said, however, that Moyles was simply keeping up with developments in English usage.

The programme complaints committee noted: “The word ‘gay’, in addition to being used to mean ‘homosexual’ or ‘carefree’, was often now used to mean ‘lame’ or ‘rubbish’. This is a widespread current usage of the word amongst young people.”

The committee, which consists of five BBC governors, including the former Royal Ballet dancer Deborah Bull, was “familiar with hearing this word in this context”.

Given Moyles’s target audience of young listeners “it was to be expected that he would use expressions and words which the listeners used themselves”.

The governors believed that, in describing a ringtone as gay, the DJ was conveying that he thought it was “rubbish” rather than “homosexual”. Moyles was not being homophobic, they said.

The panel acknowledged, however, that this use of the word “gay” in a derogatory sense could cause offence to some listeners and counselled caution on its use. Radio 1 was, however, correct to cancel future interviews with the American rap star Jayceon Taylor — known as The Game — after he called gay men “faggots” during a live interview. The presenter Jo Whiley showed “courage and presence of mind” by making an instant full apology, the panel ruled.

Actually, I think it demonstrates their cluelessness. That's actually how kids grow up using the word "gay" in my experience, but there's a knowlege of this other meaning one doesn't quite get, something about guys making out with each other (if you can believe such a thing).

Thanks to sidhe.

True story.

My brother and I were using the word "gay" as kids, and at the dinner table, my dad asked what it meant. Or rather, what we thought it meant.

We pretty much knew what it meant, though we were just using it as a general word to mean "badwrong." We didn't get the whole homosexuality thing; we had only the vaguest notions of how straight sexuality worked (I think we knew boobies would be fun to touch, and there was this other thing called a vagina that was supposed to be fun, too, although it didn't seem as honkable as boobies). But we knew "gay" meant, well, gay.

But we couldn't just say "It means homosexual, idiot." For one thing, we were "good boys," and I don't know if anyone else had this thing, but we had trouble letting on that we knew, or even thought, about sexual matters. We also didn't want our parents to know we didn't know everything about sex, as we disn't want to seem like immature idiots. So we generally just avoided the whole topic.

So my brother and I just looked at each other uncomfortably, wondering, "Doesn't this dope know what it means?"

"What does it mean?" my dad asked again. "Does it mean 'cool' ?"

My brother and I looked at each other again, open-mouthed.

"So you guys use 'gay' to mean 'cool' ?" my dad deduced from our shocked silence.

"Yeah," one of us said quietly.

"Oh, that's kind of funny," he said. "It meant something different when I was younger."

He then began using our alleged vernacular. "Marge," he said to my mom. "These string beans in cheese sauce are really good. I mean -- they're really gay." He winked at us to let us know he was now in on the hip kid-lingo.

"I think TJ Hooker will be good tonight," he said. "The previews looked really, really gay."

"Yeah, 'gay,'" my brother or I said, and the other echoed, "Totally, completely gay."

We started using the alternate meaning ourselves around our dad, to make each other giggle. My dad used to whittle these biplanes and triplanes out of balsa wood with tooth-picks for wing-struts, and he showed off a Red Baron Fokker to us.

"Really gay, dad," my brother said.

"That's some a sharp paint job on it, isn't it?" he asked us.

"Totally. It's the gayest shade of red I've ever seen," I said, as my brother and I stifled giggles. "I don't think there's ever been a gayer triplane, ever."

This went on for about two weeks. I don't know why he stopepd. But in the Ace of Spades household for about two weeks in the late nineteen seventies, "gay" actually meant, by paternal fiat, "super, wicked awesome."

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posted by Ace at 01:28 PM

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