THE BLOG
09/27/2012 05:29 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Is 'Gay' a Bad Word?

It's a typical Tuesday night. I just got back from the gym after a
long day at work. The first thing I do is grab a glass of wine and
the remote and zone out of the busy world that I just locked outside
the door of my apartment. After tuning into The Rachel Maddow Show, I
flip over to something less informed as I wind down my day. What is
on, but Mean Girls... classic! You really can't go wrong with a film
you've seen a thousand times; with nothing new to ream from it, it's
great way to tune out before falling asleep. Or so I thought.

Now, I'll preface this by saying that I just spent the past four years
living in a house full of 35 strong, smart, progressive, feminist,
liberal, and mostly gay women. Mean Girls was the go-to flick,
especially when the L-word became all-too-familiar to just pop in.
So, when I saw that the film starring a Lindsey Lohan just on the
brink of her own self-destruction was on cable yet again, I felt a
warm sense of belonging and familiarity, and knew I had to watch at
least the first ten minutes.

Within those opening scenes, I noticed something I'd never noticed the
last 80 times I'd viewed the film in the past: television censorship.
Last night, I learned, that "gay" is a curse word, that my lifestyle
and the lifestyle of millions is considered profane by the FCC. I am
not talking about the running joke throughout the plot that Lizzy
Caplan's character, Janice, is a lesbian, which is something that
effectively shows the ignorance of the common high schooler. Janice,
a unique individual, represents the stigma many high school students
(gay, straight, or otherwise) when they exhibit any otherness. Thanks,
Tina Fey!

Who I am referring to is the only "out" character in the movie,
Damien. Janice constantly lovingly picks on her best friend, Damien,
exhibiting the casualness in observing a difference in sexuality, so
as to lessen the severity of bullying and other abuses that the high
school experience lends to minority groups. However, the thing that
caught my attention was the way that censorship has influenced the
portrayal of homosexuality in the popular teen film.

When Janice originally introduces Damien to Cady (Lindsey Lohan's
character), she says, "This is Damien. He is almost too gay to
function," but what I heard through the network's filtering was,
"... he's almost too _____ to function." And again, moments later,
"Wow, Damien, you really out-(beep)ed yourself."

Now, I have to pause here to acknowledge that the word gay is often used as a pejorative term, particularly by kids in high school. However, this is not the case here; Janice is not using "gay: as a synonym for "stupid" she is referring to her friend's sexuality.

My question is: Why the censorship? Damien is gay. Everyone is aware
of it and he is out. His friend is lovingly acknowledging his gayness
by joking about it. There is no reason to censor the word "gay." It
is not a swearword. It is not taking the Lord's name in vain. It's
also not 1812.

According to christiananswers.net, a website that points out the terribly immoral aspects of films, under the language category:

"Several references to female anatomy, both slang and clinical. Girls are referred to as sl**, bi***, wh***, and lesbians."

As if calling a woman a "lesbian" is the equivalent of the other expletives listed.

And under the Morality/Spiritual issues heading, it's noted that: "One
character is declared as gay, and another is thought to be a lesbian
by everyone."

Which is clearly immoral... right?

How much longer will we be afraid to say the word "gay"? When will it
be normal for anyone watching their television at 10 p.m., or any time of
the day, to watch a Hollywood film that is excepting of all people?
If we are pushing for issues like legalizing gay marriage, how can we
expect a public to comply with two people of the same sex who love
each other to make a life commitment, if television regulations cannot
even allow the word "gay" to be broadcasted in a film we all know and
(guiltily) love?

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