Imagine walking through the halls of your school, your hands gripped tightly onto the straps of your worn out, heavy backpack. Excitement and happiness flow through your veins as you feel unstoppable. Today is your day. You’re going to accomplish the hardest of tasks. You walk into your homeroom with a prance, a proud one at that, but you stop, your feet glued to the ground as soon as you hear the word linger off of one of your classmate’s mouths.
“Get off of me, f----t!” A boy yells to one of your classmates, forcefully shoving him out the way. The two are just playing around, or so it seems. Your eyes widen with shock, your mouth not able to mutter a single word as it feels as though it’s sewn shut.
Suddenly, your world feels like it’s crumbling down. All of your hopes of today being a good day clash into the fact that today is ruined. You feel hurt. No, you feel angry. Angry that someone would use such a degrading term. As you finally free your feet from their glued position you walk over to your seat and sit down with a huff. You try to hold back the tears, a lump forming in your throat. Today is ruined and you can’t do anything to fix it.
Some people believe the common, reclaimed “f-slur” is an acceptable word, but it’s not. People who are not in the LGBTQ+ community may think that saying the word will make them popular and cool. Some kids in this society just want to fit in, so they do or say disrespectful things. People in the LGBTQ+ community work on their self-confidence to tell themselves that they’re normal and nothing is wrong with them. If someone who doesn’t identify with the community uses the slur, it can damage LGBTQ+ people’s self-esteem and confidence, putting them into a deeper hole than they were before.
Ethan Smith, a 17-year old student attending TAFE, a vocational school in Australia, identifies as a queer male. “[People using slurs] makes me upset because I don’t think people understand how much it hurts other people or the impact it has,” he said.
These words that people use so freely make people feel excluded, uncomfortable and out of place. “When I was younger I had a friend named Joel,” Smith recalled. “He was kicked out of our friendship group because the kids kept calling him LGBTQ+ slurs.”
People also don’t know what this term means. The dictionary definition of the f-slur is “a bundle of sticks or sticks bound together as fuel,” but over time, it came to mean, “a male homosexual.” In a Huffington Post article, writer Casey Cavanagh explains the atrocious history of the word.
“They used to burn the witches at a stake, but they thought the homosexuals were too low and disgusting to be given a stake to be burnt on, so they used to just throw them in with the kindling, with the other f----ts,” she writes. “So that’s how you get ‘flaming f----t.’”
The history of this word reflects the horrible events occured in the past. People who don’t know the definition of the word don't know the impact it could have on someone when they use the word freely.
People in the LGBTQ+ community work so hard to accept themselves and their gender or sexuality. Building up their self-confidence to finally come out to their loved ones is hard, and hearing someone say the f-slur in a disrespectful manner is discouraging.
Many people in the community — or those who are just assumed to be — have been targeted with hate crimes because of their identity. According to the Clarion Ledger, in 28-year-old Trevor Gray was beat by two men who believed he was gay in Wayne County, Mississippi. The men met Gray at a bar and beat him senseless, leaving him with a broken jaw. One of the attackers, Tomos Sion Brown called him a queer, which is another slur, though some have chosen to reclaim it. This shows why people who are in that community might be scared or uncomfortable to come out because of the hate crimes being committed.
Hannah Kibirige, author of an education guide on tackling homophobic language states, “... the unchallenged use of ‘gay’ to mean bad or rubbish has a profoundly negative effect on gay young people’s self-esteem.” In this generation, since youth are exposed to so much negativity on social media platforms, the words people use affect us more and we take it to heart.
People need to stop using these words because of their horrific history. LGBTQ people are often scared to reveal their true selves because of how others use this term in a joking or disrespectful way. If people knew the actual definition of the word maybe they wouldn’t use it. After knowing the history and telling people how many community members have been physically and emotionally hurt you shouldn’t say it in a joking or disrespectful way. Instead of calling people this term, use their real name, or refer to them the way they identify themselves.