word association, reclamation, homophobia, faggot

VIDEO: What Comes To Mind When You Hear The Word ‘Faggot’?

This post is also available in: Portuguese

I’m old enough to remember when advice-seekers used to address Dan Savage as “HEY FAGGOT” in his Savage Love column. Originally, it was a joke and an attempt to reclaim the word. His using it would (in theory) take the power away from straights who wanted to use the word to hurt other queer people like him.

In the ’90s, this was a relatively big thing. We, as a society, were trying to figure out the best way to de-fang hate. But as we’ve lived and learned, we’ve realized that some words (no matter their use) still remain loaded with unpleasantness.

Illustrating that, the newest episode of Cut.com’s One Word YouTube series asks 30 gay men to play word-association with “faggot.”

If you watch the video above (and you should!) you’ll see despite attempts at reclamation, “faggot” still is a word of hate. A few men talk about taking the word back, but the vast majority still find it upsetting.

Many still think that the word belongs to the realm of the uneducated lout, which, well, makes sense. Studies have shown that bigotry is most associated with individuals with low IQs.

But the biggest takeaway seems to be an answer for those who want to redefine the word, like in South ParkThe word may still cause too much pain to ever try and reclaim or redefine. Perhaps we should just leave “faggot” on the shelf. Or is it a word we really need?