That’s So Gay


This post is so gay. Govern yourselves accordingly.

Someone within earshot the other day described the fact that her friend couldn’t come out and party with her that night as “that’s so gay.” I can’t STAND it when people say that. Seriously, ever since I was in high school I shudder when I hear those three words applied to describe everything from poor grades to the price of fuel.

I used to ignore it and think, well that sucks, one day they’ll learn and it’s not really my place to correct people or make them feel awkward. As you can imagine, that got old and I became more comfortable with who I was, and wanted to let people know that I wasn’t okay with that. So when some genius would think up some clever description for my favourite three word phrase sometimes I’ll react to it and tried to make it more of a joke so as to not fully go militant on them. Oh, you think that’s gay? Well the fact that your car’s tire is going flat is pretty f’ing hetero, buddy. It usually elicits a few nervous laughs “Oh, right…”, sometimes a red faced “Sorry, I forgot who I was speaking to.” People should realize how ridiculous it sounds to attach a random sexual identifier to anything that sucks. It is a kind of playful, non-aggressive way to respond that hopefully would cause people to think about it enough to change their habits. But mostly I just give them my ‘unimpressed’ look accompanied by a raised eyebrow that makes my face say: “Excuse me, did you just say that?” 

Granted, I don’t hear it today as much as I used to, thankfully. I credit the bombardment of everything gay (for better or for worse) in popular culture. But I would also like to give some credit to a few ads that I heard about a couple of months ago that address this very issue. I think they’re pretty clever, but check them out for yourselves if you haven’t already.  


Not only do they try to get people to stop using ‘gay’ as a synonym for anything that sucks, but they do it in a playful and humourous way. You’d kind of expect someone like Wanda Sykes, hilarious lesbian actress and comedian, to be featured in one of these campaigns, but I think it’s great that a superstar actress like (as far as we know) heterosexual Hilary Duff, who has a lot of admiration and respect amongst the youth of today, to contribute her celebrity to be a part of this. The ad campaign is called “Think Before You Speak” and is sponsored by the Ad Council of America and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). For more information about the campaign, check out their website

  • Ryan

    Totally agree. I never understand the point of saying something was “gay”. My own cousin did it at a family dinner a few months ago… of course it was followed by an extreme awkward silence and a “pass the yams”.
    I hadn’t seen these ads before, hopefully they’ll have some influence.
    Many of my close friends are teachers in elementary school and have noticed this phrase to be popular amongst pre-teens (tweens). There’s even courses for teachers on how to discuss and handle this situation. If they can quell it in school, at such an early age, hopefully it’ll die out.
    Thanks for the post man.

  • Jared

    I completely agree with this. Everytime I hear “That’s so gay” I cringe a bit inside. It’s somewhat sad that it’s embedded in so many people as a common phrase to use. On a couple occasions my straight friends had used the phrase like it’s common language. I looked at them and they apologize. I also find the use of “Faggot” derogatory in any way it comes out, and it irritates me that some gay men would use it. Sometimes even the use of “homo” irks me. I can only hope that these words go away eventually 🙂

  • Don

    My straight friends have taken to looking for opportunities to use the “that’s so gay” phrase on purpose, but in situations everyone could agree ARE gay, and with a positive tone (or at least neutral or factual).

    Like recently, when seeing two guys holding hands on davie, and then parting with a quick peck on the lips, a friend goes, “awww! that’s so gay.”

  • Let’s start using the phrase “That’s so Straight” in the same negative connotation as “That’s so Gay” LOL

  • This is – without a doubt – one of my biggest annoyances EVER.

    What I decided to do is take the damn phrase back. The other day at work I was going over a project with my (very, utterly, almost cripplingly) straight (but completely respectful and very sweet) colleague and we were pissed off at the lack of resources we had available.

    He said, “Not having what we need to just do the basics of our job is so… urgh…”

    “…GAY!?” I said.

    The look on his face was priceless. And to be honest, it felt really good to just own that phrase, and that moment. Minorities are always taking back hateful language – it diminishes the meaning – and I am doing the same, dammit. 🙂

  • Great article Stephen – I couldn’t agree more. I remember a while back I was hanging out with some friends and was introduced to another of their friends. Shortly after, during conversation, the new friend said “That’s so gay” and I just turned, looked at her and asked “What exactly does that even mean?” – she got so embarrassed… I could tell she felt really bad so of course I added my signature “Just kidding!” (ha ha) but I think she really got the point.

    I think it’s really important that we don’t let it slide- especially during a time where gay people are engaged in a fight for our civil rights, it makes absolutely no sense to allow such negative connotations to be connected with our community like that.

  • Anon

    Agreed. Thank you for talking about this. In addition, however, please note how ironic is your multiple use of the term “that sucks”. Consider its origins. After all, what “sucks”? Babies, highschool skanks, homos all suck. Sucking anything – especially cock! – is seen as subservient and submissive by hetero males, I think. Seems to me to be another term created to disparage their “inferiors”. And yet how innocuous it now seems and how prevalent it’s become so that even gay men use it. We so long to be accepted by the majority, that we continuously fail to question cultural norms. If anything sucks, that certainly does.

  • The BC Teachers Federation actually does a really great workshop around schools in BC called “That’s so gay is not ok”. A lot of teachers are taking up the challenge to challenge homophobia in the classrooms.

  • Don

    Chris, comparing “that’s retarded” to “that’s so gay” the way you did uses faulty logic. The word retarded actually means “slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development or academic progress”. so saying “that’s retarded” has a literal meaning which remains valid in a negative or offensive context.

    However, “That’s so gay” has two possible literal meanings, one being “that’s so happy”, the other being “that’s so homosexual”. Neither of which should be particularly negative, so when the phrase is used disparagingly instead of literally, it corrupts the meaning and tarnishes those whose literal meaning it represents. It’s a sign that the majority of people still think of homosexuality as a bad thing, and perpetuates homophobia.

  • I actually see Chris’ point on “retarded”. I catch myself saying it sometimes and am actively trying to cut it out of my lexicon. I think it has a similar reference point as “that’s so gay”. I remember as a kid/teen saying “that’s so retarded” all the time. Now kids say “that’s so gay” in very similar circumstances… “ugh.. that shirt is so retarded” versus “ugh… that shirt is so gay”. Both are essentially harmless, but both use derogatory language towards another group. It isn’t meant to be offensive, but to those who may have a sibling with a disability or a someone who is gay, it can be offensive. I learned my lesson when i dropped the “retarded” bomb in front of a friend who had a brother with downs syndrome. He was quick and right to call me out on it.

  • Don

    while I agree that it would be insensitive to use “that’s retarded”, I still feel that the literal meaning of the phrase makes it a bad comparison to “that’s so gay”, the meaning of which has been completely corrupted.

  • nairb

    You folks who describe “that’s so gay” as being an inappropriate replacement for “that sucks” *do* realize of course that “that sucks” is itself a reference to a homosexual act?
    Point being that there is a deeper problem than the one you folks are whinging about, but have fun, okay?

  • Ernesto Bedoya

    Im curious if it is not sent towards gay people how could “Thats so gay” be offensive I dont get that

  • Katie

    It seriously makes me shudder anytime I hear someone udder the words “that’s so gay”. I don’t notice it as much when people say “that’s retarded” but I completely agree that it’s just as bad, even though the definition make sense; using it instead of stupid. Why do people have to switch it out when it could easily offend someone? The biggest annoyance I have is when people say its not gay like homosexual it means something completely different, so they feel no shame. That`s crap and seriously freaking annoying. And I have no idea what to say to that.

  • dre

    I think this whole idea is blown entirely out of proportion. Over time, the meanings of words change. The use is converted from some unrelated term into a form of slang that generally means something entirely different from it’s original meaning. The word “gay” meant many things before it was ever used in reference to those of the homosexual persuasion. This isn’t even the most offensive of converted pop culture terms. How about “pimp”? As in Pimp My Ride. I’m going out tonight and lookin pimp. Damn, that guy just pulled those two girls numbers? Whatta pimp! Nowhere in there is anyone reference the sexual exploitation of women in exchange for money but that’s what a pimp is. Get over it. It’s not homophobic, it’s just a word with many meanings.

  • Niks

    I completely agree with dre. This whole concept of “that’s so gay” is just a phrase. You can try to say “that’s so hetero,” but it wont have the same affect. Theres nothing odd or different about being a heterosexual (women get pregnant by men, procreation, etc) that’s how life works, there is something odd and different about being gay. (gays have to “come out of the closet” and if everyone was gay, then their would be no more life. I love people regardless of what they are…gay, straight, tranny. The gay community needs to lighten the hell up. I will never stop saying things are gay, my white friends say nigga – to each other. My girlfriend is italian/irish, i’m hispanic/black We always play around with politically incorrect phrases, chinks, spics, beaners, niggas, honkeys, whops. It’s all in love. Grow a pair, and stop being such drama kings/queens.

  • Marie

    This is such a gay topic. I mean…WHO CARES!?!?!?!?! The STUPID (yes…I mean STUPID) homosexual community stole (aka robbed) the original meaning of the word gay from “happy” or “joyful” to mean “generally homosexual” or “homosexual male.” Homosexuality is a CHOICE on the homosexuals’ part to go against nature. Homosexuality didn’t evolve. Think about it….if humans and animals evolved from some bacteria, you’d think there’d either be a single gender or more than just the male and female genders in order to promote reproduction. Instead, there’s only two genders and you need both to reproduce naturally.

    Besides that, how do you know the phrase didn’t originate when the word “gay” originally meant happy. I’ve heard people make fun of overly happy people in a condensending way. I’ve even had classmates skip around making fun of things that are “gay.” If you get offended by the phrase, then more power to us who say it. He (she) who takes offense shall be offended. It’s a phrase that was never made up to be an offense and now that it does, only the politically correct people stay away from it. Political correctness is so gay, stupid, ignorant, dumb, idiotic, etc.


    There….how’s that for an offensive statement.

  • ABev.

    I am actually writing a paper on the phrase “that’s so gay” for a course I’m taking in college.
    And honestly, I’m sorry Marie but how old are you? This is an article that someone wrote about what they thought on a subject. Sure you’re entitled to your opinion but you could have said in a different way to not come off as…a mean person per se.
    You’re right in saying that a particular group of people may have taken the word and used it to identify themselves but what is wrong with that? So that has to be used against them because they didn’t create the word? You seem to be quite homophobic. Maybe you could read another person’s comment whom isn’t biased and reconsider wording your thoughts differently.
    Thanks for writing the article, Stephen. Very nicely worded.

  • Brie

    FUCK YOU MARIE! You are pathetic. You obviously don’t have much of a life if you take the time out of your day to write that long of a paragraph. And what the fuck are you even talking about bacteria for? I think God accepts and loves all of us GAY or STRAIGHT…many people think that God doesnt accept Gays because it says so in the bible but it also says that a father is allowed to stone his daughter to death if she sleeps with a man before shes married…do we follow that today? NO.

  • BO the BFer

    Yes, let’s promote something more appropriate, e.g.

    That’s so feces-feeding.

    That’s so homo-disgusto.

    That’s so pervy-swervy.

    That’s so phagalicious.

  • the dj

    its a free country. ppl that blog and bitch about this kinda stuff is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • the dj

    ps u cringe and shutter and whatever else b/c you’re all a buch of pansies! sack up or shut up!

  • the dj

    BRIE! buy a bible and learn about how wrong you are.

  • Josline

    Stephen, I believe your article is very well written. I wrote an article a year or so ago about this aswell.
    I tend to keep fairly quiet about the issue, and after reading certain replies, I felt I had to comment on this.
    One, homosexuality is not a choice. You don’t choose to be gay, straight, bisexual, transgendered, two-spirited, ect… Maybe some people do, but there have been studies that show that most gay men and women have some some sort of raised hormone level in their bodies. That is what makes them sexually attracted to the same sex.
    Now, do we actually know how offensive “that’s so gay” is? It’s homophobic, it’s ignorant, and it’s just plain rude. I will admit, I have said it before, but I stopped once I realized how wrong it was to actually say it. Some people say it’s not homophobic, but in reality, it really is an act of homophobia. Yes, the word has many meaning, just like “pimp”, but we are constantly using it in a negetive way.
    Again, Stephen, very well written piece.

  • Phphphph

    okay for all of those people saying that its alright to say “thats so gay” trust me ITS NOT! my dad has come out about being gay which at first made me so confused i asked qeustins to myself like why would he marry my mom? was i born so he could hide he was gay for long? and i still face these qeustions all the time, he is now happily married and the guy he is married to is great! and now my dad being gay is just a normal part of my life that i have got used to. but it makes me feel horrible when kids at my school go “thats gay” because i think about my dad and step dad and i think about all of the people that are saying this. not many people know that my dad is gay beause im scared to tell them because i think they will judge me because of these comments that they are using.

  • sharon moran

    thats so gay gets a lot of media attention, what about you hit ,run,talk,think like a girl. if you do a crap job they say you do it like a girl!!! we as girls and women get bashed on tv,in movies,books,songs and everyday life. i never say thats so gay but i hear the you do that like a girl in a bad way everyday every where. are you saying girls and women do not matter?????

  • mikey

    @sharon, i feel you and when a woman does a great job, she’s given a pat on the back and told you did it like a man!!!

  • mark

    I think the word “fag” will go the way of “the N word” and other euphemisms, but I think “gay” is here to stay, and everyone from south park to wanda sykes will be going back and forth about this, like football

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  • lgbtq friendly

    derived from un-PC roots at one point in time or another…
    and now gay…
    the list will go on…

    I admit I’ve used the term as common slang for that’s dumb…I it picked up somewhere a long the way…I’m bisexual and don’t use it as a gay jab, but considering its offensive to some, I’m making an effort to replace it with another phrase…

    currently I’m trying “that’s so trite “…we’ll see if it catches on…

  • Azrael

    pffft… that’s so gay.

  • J.B.

    This is political correctness from the left-wing. Look, I have nothing against homosexuals as you know, I do support gay marriage and I am a hetero. Second, I find this ad annoying on TV and I already do get the whole thing. I barely use the phrase today since I am getting older and know what’s going on with the world today. The phrase is 90’s made and this isn’t the 90’s anymore. Third, I am a centrist and the campaign ad can be annoying to people who are easily annoyed like myself and fourth, I hate being called a fag, homo or gay because of one thing, annoyance. It’s very simple: I am straight, I do crossdress voiceovers, I like tomboys and if any of you sorry a** pricks call me a fag, homo or gay, I’ll beat you guys up!

    I am straight and I am against homophobes, literally. It’s the bottom line ’cause J.B. says so.

  • Anonymous

    You would think gay people would be using their energy for something more productive. Like, Iets say equal rights? Instead they got on their high horse and thought that certain words always apply to them being homosexual.

    The words gay and queer have always been context sensitive. Like how the words changed to include homosexuals, it doesn’t always mean the same thing. Definitions change people.

    Get over yourselves.

    That’s so advertising campaign against a ridiculously minuet “problem” with more funding than it deserves.

    P.s J.B
    No one believes internet tough guys, that was so 90’s too.

  • im gay im a nigga and i dont care


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  • not jeb bush

    this blog is gay