The word 'gay' has come to symbolise far too many images of people than what it originally meant. It has become one of the most offensively progressive terms in the English language, where it suggests much more than 'light-hearted and carefree' or simply suggesting the sexual orientation of some men. The website oxforddictionaries.com, which appears to be operated by the Oxford University Press, lists out the following as one of the meanings of the word gay:
informal, offensive foolish, stupid, or unimpressive:
he thinks the obsession with celebrity is totally gay
The existence of this new definition of gay is not only the legitimisation of the disrespect rooted in the usage of the word, but on a pragmatic perspective, it is also a mirror of how its social usage has evolved. This dictionary lists the first of four definitions of this adjective word as:
(of a person, especially a man) homosexual.
It therefore cannot be ignored that the above-mentioned definitions, when combined together, can effortlessly form links: Homosexual, Offensive Foolish, Stupid, or Unimpressive. How does that sound to you? If you are a native English language speaker, perhaps it is not a surprise because you would have been well familiar with the widespread usage of this word in educational institutions and amongst colleagues or friends.
Stonewall have been long running the campaign on London buses, 'Some People Are Gay. Get Over it!' There is no question that not only the UK, but other societies also do need to get over it. But the biggest of all challenges is: How do we get over it? There are all sorts of people, the pleasant ones, bad ones, but also foolish, stupid and unimpressive ones. But when the English language translates Stonewall advertisement's first part, 'Some People Are Gay', into 'Some People Are Offensive Foolish / Stupid / Unimpressive', it will be too difficult to get over it, as much as there is an ever-pressing need to do so.
Of course, language alone cannot be blamed. Underneath the usage of language and association of meanings, it is the philosophical beliefs that people live with, which pose the real challenge. The rigid ideas about the emotional and physical attractions that people should or should not experience, form the root of all disrespect for who can lead a happy and normal life and who cannot; whether one can love a same-sex person or one cannot.
'Some People Are Gay' is only the tip of the iceberg, which represents deep-rooted disrespect for the dignity of people that is prevalent in society. A search on news websites for the term 'gay' would reveal many recorded stories of such unfortunate disrespect, not to forget many such day to day stories which do not make it to the news.
How do we get over it? Popular media such as cinema and television owe serious explanations as to why a dialectical view of sexuality is not enacted out. Propaganda, whether intentional or completely unintentional, can be at its peak when it is linked to symbols of day to day living, human development and necessities. Propaganda can be either manipulative, or neutral and constructive. Whilst we can be completely assured that UK television adverts have no other propaganda than to promote their products, what cannot be ignored is that unintentionally, they successfully marry the symbols of necessities with heterosexuality.
The 2012 Haribo advert and 2011 Cathedral City advert are good examples of happy child development exclusively associated with heterosexuality. For adults, from toothpastes, ready-to-cook food, coffee, washing machines, cars to mortgages: all adverts link these human necessities to heterosexuality.
Of course, what still remains unanswered at last is: How do we get over it? Are the filmmakers, TV shows and advertisement producers prepared to show us each time that hetero- and homo-sexualities co-exist in society, and that we are not homogeneous when it comes to who we choose to love and live with? Above all, are we prepared to take back the word 'gay' to its original meaning?