In high school, I heard the word "fag" almost every day.
Though it was never directed at me, "fag" was the usual replacement for dumb, stupid or feminine.
At first, it didn't bother me. But after coming out, I came to hate the word "fag."
It is rooted in hate.
Now, I'm sure all of you have heard the argument, "well, it really means a bundle of sticks." While this may be true, no one uses it to describe fuel. It's an insult. And to use its dictionary definition as justification is immature. "Fag" means gay.
When I hear the word "fag," I cringe. I don't laugh. I think about last semester, when I was walking home from a party. He walked by me, turned over his shoulder and yelled, "You f'ing f*ggot." It was the first time anything like that had happened to me. Up until that night, no one had ever called me "fag" or "gay."
It's difficult to describe how I felt. At first, I was speechless. Then, I was angry. I wanted nothing more than to bash the kid's head in. He probably didn't even know I was gay. But that's what infuriated me the most. Too many people throw "fag" around and don't think of the damage it does. Now, whenever I hear "fag," I remember that night, crying the entire way home scared, vulnerable and furious.
The problem with using "fag" as a joke is that it's simultaneously being used to bully LGBT+ youth. While you may use it to call your friend a wimp, a bully is using it to attack some kid who just came out. It does not matter the context, situation, or meaning you choose to give the word "fag." Just by saying "fag," you are perpetuating a word that causes incredible pain to those who don't deserve it.
To LGBT+ individuals, "fag" represents oppression and discrimination. It epitomizes the heteronormative society that we live in. It can make us hate ourselves and our sexuality.
"Fag" makes me doubt my confidence. It causes me to forget the positive and supportive people in my life. It makes me wish everyone got bullied, and that "straight" was just as insulting as "gay."
Just writing that word makes me want to punch someone.
Perhaps the most frustrating and mind-boggling thing to witness is other LGBT+ people using the word "fag." I can't help but say something to them. Just the other day I heard a mutual friend call his roommate "fag." I politely walked up to him and said: "Next time you say the word "fag," think about the gay kid who's too scared to go to school. You see yesterday, he got a black eye from some other kid in the bathroom. Can you guess what everyone calls him?"
There are no blurred lines when it comes to the dreaded word. It is never acceptable to use in any context by anyone- gay, straight, bisexual, etc. And if people do not stop saying "fag," in jest or out of rage, then bullies are going to keep it in their tool belt.
Things do not stop if people keep doing them.
Stop saying "fag."
And stop perpetuating a word rooted in hate.
My sexuality isn't a joke.
Please share this message with your community. Speak up and out about "fag," and other words that must vanish. Language is too powerful to keep sweeping it under the rug.