Commentary and Philosophy Non-Fiction posted April 18, 2015

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Word rescue contest

The 'GAY' Word

by Spiritual Echo

The word 'gay' has been kidnapped and remolded, its original meaning so completely eradicated that I doubt a single person in all of North America could use the word in a sentence, its original meaning intact, without confusing the listener.

"I feel so gay today."

"It was a gay party."

"The Gay Nineties were heady times."

This last example would immediately put every mind into the gutter. In fact, the original meaning of 'gay' was, carefree, uninhibited, optimistic and joyful. With that definition, the above sentences do not evoke a snicker, but make perfect sense.

According to Wikipedia, the word 'gay' dates back to the 12th century and evolved from the French word 'gai.' Ironically the word 'gaiety' has somehow survived without the sexual connotation implied by 'gay'.

The use of the word 'gay' to describe homosexuality began more than one hundred years ago, but has completely lost its original meaning in the last four decades. I can appreciate how the uninhibited aspect of its linguistic roots could evolve into general usage for its new meaning, but as I recall, most homosexuals coming out of the closet or living clandestine lives were not at all joyful. While trying to gain acceptance for their sexuality, they were labelled queers, faggots and perverts. Even today, many people confuse homosexuality, assuming gays to be pedophiles, a ridiculous conclusion. Yet there was no carefree joyfulness in the pioneers who dared to fight and continue to lobby for equality devoid of sexual orientation.

If it were at all possible to dust off the added meanings to this beautiful word and restore it to the light-hearted intent of its usage, I'd pull out my cleaners and rags, but alas, sometimes it is best to accept this word's origins have been forever altered.

Surprisingly, though we like to believe we are an enlightened society and can adjust to evolving language, the word gay has morphed once more.

"That's so gay."


"You're so gay."

This sentence has become street language to mean unmanly, stupid or trash. The homophobic undertones have turned this into an insult. Those people who continue to find homosexuality offensive, likely wouldn't give the jibe a second thought if it came out of their child's mouth, but they should.

For though I can mourn the word 'gay', accepting I may need to add additional adjectives to a sentence to fully encompass my intended mood-setter, I am prepared to retire the word from my vocabulary. Let it remain in the domain of the homosexual community--they earned their right to its ownership.

What I can't abide is allowing something that began as beauty to turn into garbage. Pause and think about the following statements:

"He jewed me out of my money."

"He gypped me in the deal."

"He's a retard."

That my Spell-check program highlighted several words in this list is a testament to, not only the perverted use of words, but also society's repugnance at allowing slurs to invade our language. These statements were in common use one time, but are no longer acceptable.  We must stay vigilant against new aberrations in our communication  so there is no confusion as to what we mean to say.                              .

Words can build bridges, but they can also build walls. We may have sacrificed the original meaning of the word 'gay', but in doing so, we built a bridge of understanding.


Word Rescue writing prompt entry
Writing Prompt
The English language seems to be ever-changing. New words appear while older words either acquire new meaning or sink into the quicksand of contemporary electronic communication. Let's take umbrage at this process and join the campaign to "Save a Word". Select an English word you feel is in danger of extinction or electronic warping from its original meaning. Argue passionately for its preservation in its pure form or as a last resort, even suggest a new meaning for it...just save it! Use it in a catchy jingle (remember those?) for FanStory or in a tome on brain surgery...but use it. Show its enduring beauty...polish it to its original luster...make us cry, laugh, rage...just Save a


If anyone is curious as to the selection of the artwork, I typed the word 'gay' into FanArt and this was number #1 on the list.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by CammyCards at

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