The other F-Word

milkboys News & Opinions 17 Comments

Gay men have complicated relationships with the word “faggot.” While we’re at a moment in time where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are slowly gaining rights and visibility, that doesn’t mean the stigma surrounding gay identity has dissipated. And, for some, the words that have historically been used to inflict pain on our community still hold a lot of power.

Some find power in taking back or reclaiming words — like “queer.” We use the word queer because we find it the best way to describe the vast spectrum of experiences and identities that receive visibility in our section — and because we think the word is the most inclusive.

However, the word “faggot” still inspires a mixed response among gay men, and that response is often due to context and intent.

Cut Video brought 30 gay men together for a word association exercise and asked them to respond to the word “faggot.” Predictably, their responses were mixed and often times emotional.

“[It’s] the last sort of acceptable kind of dirty word that people still say in public a lot,” one middle-aged gay man says. “Not even if you’re apparently gay but I guess if you’re just suspected to be gay, it’s very common. So I look at it as a very abusive, vocal assault.”

Check out the video above. What are your thoughts about the word “faggot”? Let us know in the comments below.

Cut Video made similar videos about the word gay and the phrase being a man.

Comments 17

  1. *sigh* … symbolic violence
    I Find it very very hard to give an objective explanation of the word “faggot” without having opposite opinions from others, this reminds me of the word “nigger”. Personally I believe this is a discussion very few people can handle and eve understand.

    1. To me personally the term “Queer” is VERY offensive. There is NOTHING wrong with me, I am just gay. The word queer means “something wrong with” according to the dictionary. Faggot is bad but to me queer is worse. I can’t understand why anyone would want to be identified as “Queer”

  2. ~Fa–ot is to gays as ni–er is to blacks yet some blacks call each other n’s and some gays call each other f’s. Does that make it acceptable, I’d have to say no.
    If my saying a word is offensive to some than their saying it to each other should make it just as offensive to them. Shame is neither word will disappear any more than w-p, sp-c, li–y, m-c, n-p, or pol–ck have; these words were created to hurt from the git go and they’ll continue to do so. Some say words can’t hurt you but we know better…best just treat others the same as you’d like to be treated and leave the nasty for the gutter.

    1. @Devil

      VOLDERMORT! Remember that name? His name was not to be mentioned. He was only to be alluded to.

      In the scene just before the final battle the head mistress of Hogwart openly uses his name and an other tells her it shouldn’t be used to which she instantly replies that not using the word give it more power.

      My point? Using “-” in that series of words is the same thing. Political correctness is far far more dangerous that using a word. So, I will take away the power you gave those words by actually mentioning them. Nigger, faggot, polack. The others I can’t remember. Today’s word might be tomorrow’s word of the damned. Like l-ve, equ—t-, fr–d-m.

      I don’t care what the word is. I simply refuse to censor it in the name of political correctness. Hell, even in the name of supposed politeness.

  3. Generally I agree with George Carlin when he said that it’s not words that are bad but the context they are used in. That said, the only context in which I will ever hear that word used without losing quite a bit of respect for the speaker is if they’re referring to fuel for a fire or a cigarette.

    If I know the speaker is gay or I hear it in a predominantly gay venue, I’m not likely to say anything. However, if that’s not the case, I’m perfectly capable of jumping right down someone’s throat… as I did a while back when a new hire at work asked me if I was a “fag” (I learned later she is a lesbian, but she learned real quick she’d better know her audience before using that word).

    I’m well aware that there’s a segment of the LGBT community that’s intent on reclaiming the word and throw it around like coke at a rock concert, especially drag queens. However, I don’t care how many men I sleep with or how depraved the sex is, I am not, have never been, and will never be either a “faggot” or a “fag”.

    You may or may not get a response from me by calling me that, but you *damn* sure won’t be getting any favors from me.

    1. @It’s only Me from Across the Sea

      I agree, but wish to expand.

      You can call me anything you wish, literally. It is the intention behind the use of the word, not the word itself, which is offensive or not. Example: as an electronics technician in the RAF, I was known as a ‘fairy’, because I worked with what others thought was magic.

      As a civilian, if you called me a fairy in a humorous, light-hearted fashion, I’d probably smile, genuinely, or even laugh out loud if the humour was really good.

      However, if you called me a fairy in such a fashion or set of circumstances and it was clear you intended to cause offense, insult, etc., then I would respond accordingly. I have never started a fight in my life – literally or figuratively – but I have certainly finished many, as I take crap from no one.

      My almost lifelong held attitude (since I was 20) about my sexuality is: I don’t have a problem. If you do, that is your problem – do NOT make it mine!

      So, for me, words themselves have no power to hurt or upset me, only people’s intentions do.

  4. The only thing worse than the micro-aggression of hate speech is the micro-totalitarianism of political correctness, and its evil effort to control the vocabulary, and constrain in academia and the marketplace of ideas, the freedoms of speech, thought, and association.

    In a truly free society of free-minded individuals, the only legitimate response to ‘faggot’ is, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” ( Attributed fictionally to Voltaire by Evelyn Beatrice Hall).

    I don’t give a flying fuck through a rolling donut what you call me – just understand I reserve the right to call you anything I want as well, and I’m pretty good at inflicting degradation when provoked. Bottom Line> whatever you call me, just don’t call me late for dinner. It’s important to overeat for political reasons – to keep good food from falling into the hands of the poor.

    1. Just for the record..I don’t just hang out here for the pictures…I hang because I so enjoy horselips.
      Horsey; you can be my talking chief any day!
      Cheers!

  5. These are the words to pay attention to:

    “these words were created to hurt from the git go and they’ll continue to do so. Some say words can’t hurt you but we know better…best just treat others the same as you’d like to be treated and leave the nasty for the gutter.”

    This is also true:

    “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

    But in this case don’t display any shock or even mutter complaint when fists fly and people get seriously hurt…. (perhaps yourself)

  6. “I don’t care what the word is. I simply refuse to censor it in the name of political correctness. Hell, even in the name of supposed politeness.”
    ~Old Dan

    “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
    ~Upi

    ❦Same as you don’t yell fire in a crowded theater you don’t shout nigger at the Apollo unless you’re black and on stage. Caution is best exercised when using such words in the wrong place or in front of the wrong person if only for decorum first, personal safety second.

    Look at poor humble Atticus Finch, first he’s beloved for trying to save an innocent black man from being wrongly convicted for rape due to his race and now he’s called a racist fifty odd years later. Should I not give Ms.Harper Lee a chance with “Go Set A Watchman” just because of the negative press or jump in with a free mind?
    Me, I’ll be in the reading camp on my Kindle app when I can afford it because it’s just a book and I’m as curious as the next about what happened to Scout and her family over the years though I fear I’ve lost my favorite character, (found out by accident!) but curiosity still rules.

    Same as race is what you make it so are words…

  7. “In a truly free society of free-minded individuals, the only legitimate response to ‘faggot’ is, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” ( Attributed fictionally to Voltaire by Evelyn Beatrice Hall).”
    ❦Credit to Mr.Hoselips excellent piece, sorry I didn’t note your usage of “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” in my comment.

  8. First, I was in the middle of posting this when you DISAPPEARED off-line (for more than a week with no prior notice!).

    re: The other F-Word

    First, slightly off-topic:

    OK, I’ve waited for the “usual suspects” to weigh in on their obvious distaste of all those bad “F-“words (topic) and “N-“words (slightly off-topic) — yet, they and others continually fail to mention a couple more that I’ll point out. I’m sure they “forget” because it’s more politically correct to posit that only white people are “racists.”

    But, here’s the thing about what we say “and think?” with those “racist” words — we’re allowing a free pass for a double standard. After all, any-/every-one who says, “nigger” are the only racists, right? Or, are they? To wit:

    What about those “non-white racists” who use these words [that never seem to get mentioned in the press] — honkey and another, gringo for American whites (I’ve not heard these words used by Canadians or other Europeans)? Are they any less racist? Again, an on-going double standard for racism. After all, only whites are racist because they’re (so far, nationally) in the majority? Never mind that most whites live and work above the southern bible-belt states who fought to remove slavery, give blacks jobs and allow them to live fairly normal lives (yes, I know we still have problems in that area).

    I think one of the best posits is by “Old Dan”:
    “My point? Using “-” [devilena*] in that series of words is the same thing. Political correctness is far far more dangerous that using a word. So, I will take away the power you gave those words by actually mentioning them.”

    .

    Now, back on topic:

    I’ve always despised (and still do) the usages of, “faggot” and “queer”/”homo” (to a slightly less degree). But, if I want to have my rights recognized, both as an American and as a “gay”/homosexual (or, “happy homosexual”?) then I can’t refuse those who insist on using those words for us (gays).

    I really shouldn’t be so upset with “homo” since: Wiki: “Homo is the genus comprising the subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens, or modern humans, plus several extinct species classified as ancestral to or closely related to modern humans …” So, when a redneck hetero [or, as is many of the cases, a super-closeted homosexual] calls out “homo!” to a gay person, he’s [in effect] just calling out to his [human] brother or sister. :-) But, I do get a bit upset, only because of the context of using “homo” (and “queer”) to me or other gays. Again, I think I have to give them just a tiny bit of “credit” for saying, “homo” — they seem to have some sense in using the scientific word “homo” instead of those two others just to show they [think they] have some “intelligence.”

    And, as Dan W said:
    “To me personally the term “queer” is VERY offensive. There is NOTHING wrong with me, I am just gay.” But, for me, “faggot” is more offensive than “queer”. Probably because I grew up in not just the “mid-west” of America, but also in that “Lone Star”** State, Texas.

    And again, for those that use the words, faggot/queer/homo, simply just give our side “ammo” so that we know just who is on the other side of that fence and who really show the lesser intelligence (and I give so many of them way too much credit in this).

    * devilena — As you can see, I’m not the only person who sees your constant “need” to be so incredibly politically correct.

    ** “Lone Star” — Did you ever wonder why Texas is called that? I’m pretty sure it’s because none of the other stars on our flag want to be anywhere near that “star of Texas”.

    1. “And again, for those that use the words, faggot/queer/homo, simply just give our side “ammo” so that we know just who is on the other side of that fence and who really show the lesser intelligence (and I give so many of them way too much credit in this).”

      I know I didn’t make it clear in my previous post, but I agree very much with this (though those that have read my other posts on this site could probably figure that out).

      One reason I would NEVER try to banish these or any other words that I might consider disrespectful or hateful is because it makes it infinitely easier to know who is worth sharing my time with and who is most likely not worth my time (or worse, likely to cause me harm). By all means use whatever words you wish to use, but don’t be surprised when others respond negatively to words they consider disrespectful.

      I don’t have a good segway into my next point, but it is related. Kindly don’t ask me to stop using a word that YOU find disrespectful if you’re going to insist on using a word that *I* find disrespectful (there really aren’t many of them and it shouldn’t be hard to avoid the couple I do). A perfect example of this is some members of the local transgender community trying to tell me that “tranny” is a bad word when they used the word “faggot” in the sentences before and after it. Respect is a two way street and you have no right to expect it if you refuse to give it.

  9. Question: Faggots – What are Faggots?

    There seems to be some mystery and misunderstanding about what faggots are when the answer is quite simple, they are a type of meatball found in traditional British food.

    Answer: Faggots are an old-fashioned British food, and one that has sadly fallen out of favour in recent years. Traditionally Faggots are made from offal, usually pork, and from the bits of the animal that are generally discarded; the heart, the liver etc making Faggots a cheap and nutritious dish.

    Also means a bundle of sticks, in archaic English.

    While yes, as somebody said, it means a cigarette in Britain, when abbreviated to fag.

    I have no problem with the word as used in the UK, but then it’s not normally used to describe a poofter. Ah, now that’s an offensive, largely Australian a but also British word, although we prefer poof!

    Would any of you poofs like to come over to mine for some peas and faggots which I can heat up with some faggots? No offense m8!

  10. A bundle of sticks… and at some point, the punishment of being beaten with such?

    It has something to do with “betrayal”, suggested to be…? the betrayal against men, when you don’t compete with them, for the affections of women?? (and when you beat them to it, then that’s all cool?!?)

    But originally, it was betrayal against the faculty, “what we feel/traditions have established, it means to be a man”. And in some boarding schools, that meant taking it up the ass from the seniors, who were gangraped by the seniors, when they were freshmen. “‘s’how we roll, here!”

    If a victim wasn’t prepared to put up with that, and would “tell the grown-ups”, he would be a faggot, an unwelcome traitor, and an outlawed target of harassment. His future would end, then and there… It’s an implied threat of death.

    That’s how I’ve understood it.

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