It seems that we are marching towards a new age of tolerance and acceptance. It’s an age where if someone uses the word “fag” as a pejorative then they lose job opportunities (like Brett Ratner losing the chance to produce the Oscars for saying “Rehearsal is for fags.”)
I think it’s a great thing that he lost the job. Now, the question is: who gets to say “fag?” My opinion: No one. There is, in my view, no reclamation by gays being able to say it, just a change in who is doing the repressing.
For the past year, I have run a management consultancy which deals exclusively with workplace discrimination. I would maintain that an uncomfortable work environment is created by the use of the word “fag[got]” no matter the orientation of the speaker. The English language is a living language and one that has history. You do not erase years of discrimination in one fell swoop because who is saying it.
I still bristle at the use of the word “Nigg[-er/-a] in popular culture. It is still used as derogatory language and the more often people cite blacks using it amongst themselves as a reason to use it, the longer it will take for us to be seen as moving forward from our past.
I wonder that by allowing ourselves to still use the language of bigots, are we saying that we aren’t smart enough to find our own ways to describe ourselves? Or are we still in many ways eager to join the majority by dividing and conquering our own brethren?
I’m not a nigger. I’m not a faggot. I’m a person that deserves respect.