I’m also sure some of you are thinking,” Well, what’s the big deal? She likes the gays and is just using ‘gay’ in a joking way. It’s a joke. It’s funny.” Ha ha ha ha ha. Oh, wait, but then it isn’t. It isn’t funny because language matters. Granted, language may not matter that much to a person who intentionally spells “you are” as “ur” in her official lyrics, but it matters to the rest of the world.
You would never, not in a million years, see a major pop star launch into a revenge song called “Ur So Asian” or “Ur So Disabled.” That would not and should never happen. But it is still somehow acceptable for a Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum selling major recording artist to sing a song like “Ur So Gay” in revenge as “the crowd cheered and howled in laughter.”
Yeah, not awesome. Some will say we’re too sensitive, to lighten up. Katy has supported gay rights. She played at the Dinah. She has tons of gay friends. Also, remember, she kissed a girl and she liked it. Well, at the very least she liked the record sales. All those things are good, but language still matters.
We live in country where it is still legal to fire people for being gay in 29 states. We live in a country where gays and lesbians are still not allowed to openly serve their country in the military. We live in a country where the federal government will still not allow you to marry the person you love if he or she happens to be of the same sex.
We also live in a world where 9 out of 10 LGBT kids get harassed at school. We live in a world where LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight counterparts. We live in a world where a third — a third — of all LGBT youth have attempted suicide.
And do you know where that all starts? Do you know what they’ve all been called? Do you know what you can hear today in any high school hallway? “You’re so gay!”
Words matter. How you use them matters. It trickles into our subconscious and colors our view of the world. It matters to the gay teen struggling with her identity who feels frightened and alone in this world. It matters to me, it should matter to you.
When I was in high school, it was cool to use the word “retarded” as in insult. It got tossed around on the bus, it call hurled in the lunchroom. I used it, too. But now, as an adult, I realize how hurtful and offensive that word is. Why would I want to disparage an entire group of people who cannot help their disability? Why would I be so willfully insensitive? Why would I be so cruel?
And, I’ll admit, that every now and then in an unthinking moment I catch myself about to use the terrible term again. But then I check myself and say, that hurts people who do not deserve to be hurt. So I stop.
Stop, Katy Perry. Stop it now.