Although I am still young myself, there are a number of phrases used by my peers which really grate on me. 'Totes', 'reem' (basically anything from The Only Way is Essex) and student motto 'YOLO' are probably my top three. But there's one phrase that really is like a red rag to a bull. "That's SO gay".
Let's recap here. Gay does not mean stupid. It is not a synonym for rubbish, or offensive, or trashy, or unfortunate or unlucky. It never means any of these things, and it's high time we stopped treating it like it does.
Associating the word gay with such negative meanings associates the very state of being gay with negativity. This is entirely unacceptable. If children really are the future, then I worry about what's to come if my generation and those younger than me find such casual, everyday homophobia acceptable. Because that's what it is. Homophobia.
Who can forget former Radio 1 presenter Chris Moyles declaring a ringtone "gay" on air a few years back? By "gay", he meant something along the lines of 'stupid and annoying', he certainly didn't mean the phone was homosexual, which is what 'gay' actually means. In another incident, Ofcom decided that Moyles "promoted and condoned certain negative stereotypes based on sexual orientation" when he ridiculed gay singer Will Young in a high-pitched voice. They said his actions were "hostile" and "pejorative" and had "potential to cause considerable offence". He denied he was homophobic, the BBC denied he was homophobic, we all forgot about it and bid him a fond farewell when he left Radio 1 rather than calling him out for his unacceptable behaviour as we should have done.
Here is a man who was listened to by millions of teenagers. He sent a message to those teenagers that it is okay to use the word 'gay' to mean 'stupid'. It wasn't then, it isn't now and it should never be. I'm not blaming Chris Moyles for inventing the usage of the term, it's everywhere and that's half the problem. It's just one in a long line of examples.
LGBT equality has never been in the public eye more than now. Countries around the world are legalising equal marriage, LGBT history month in February was a success and awareness campaigns to end homophobia are picking up steam every day. So why on Earth do tolerate this pejorative abuse of language?
Having spent an entire day recently looking at the way the LGBT community is represented across the media, being disgusted at how little LGBT voices are heard and how homophobic attacks are not reported as often as they really should be, I felt dejected about the level tolerance we have in our society. Looking forward to a relaxing night, someone then told me that the fact I had to work the next day was "gay". I give up.