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Dan Carter looks into use of the word Faggot

Dan Carter looks into use of the word Faggot

The word ‘faggot’ elicit strong emotions when you talk to the gay community due to the nasty connotations that have come to surround the word. This year there has been particularly strong backlash against ‘Fairytale of New York’ for its inclusion of the word. We have gathered together a group of people to discuss the song and the use of the word generally.

We have Daniel (30 years old), Jamie (26 years old) and we have returning contributor Paul (63 years old) to discuss their feelings on the topic.

Does anyone here find the song offensive?

Daniel - In the song, no.

Jamie - It’s only come up as an issue in recent years, it’s never been an issue before so in the context of the song, no.

And the word generally?

Paul - It’s a word like any other, it’s not necessarily a nice word but it exists.

Daniel - Overall, probably not. I’m of the opinion that sticksand stones may break your bones and all that kind of thing. I hear it as a word, but I choose not to be offended. 

What about context? The word has many different meanings depending on the circumstance?

Paul - Well I have used the word myself in sort of self-denigration, in that context I don’t see why we shouldn’t be able to use it. There’s a black stand-up comedian who uses the ‘N’ word rather a lot in his act and if he can use that word why can’t we use the ‘F’ word.

Jamie – again, similar. I’ve used it against myself a few times, but I think on the flip side of that when you get called it by somebody else it does have a difference.

Daniel – I don’t think the word makes a difference, I think it is the act of someone being outwardly homophobic that I would find more offensive to be honest. It isn’t that I’ve been called a ‘faggot’, it would be the being called out full stop.

It’s interesting that 10 – 20 years ago the word, queer, would have caused a great deal of offense but nowadays it doesn’t. Does anyone find queer offensive?

Daniel - No. That is a word that we have almost reclaimed if you like. It’s how we choose to use the word that has made it acceptable again.

If we can reclaim queer as a word, is it possible to reclaim ‘fag’ or ‘faggot’ as a word?

Paul – I think we could, but do you really want to? I don’t get that hung up about it.

Jamie – Neither do I but I personally wouldn’t want to as it’s more of a harsher sounding word, I think. It’s not as nice to hear as queer is, I don’t think.

Paul – There are worse words. My father had some choice ones!

Daniel – I would say it can be reclaimed. I don’t think it would happen overnight and it would be a long process because it is so ingrained in some people’s minds that it is so offensive.

If the word was reclaimed, would it ever been acceptable for a straight person who wasn’t meaning to be offensive to use the word?

Daniel – In my opinion yes, it’s all about intent, it’s all about context as we’d started saying. Like with Paul I would liken it to the ‘N’ word, and I know that’s a fairly on the nose issue and that is fairly controversial, and it has many of the same things around it. It’s been essentially reclaimed by the entire community that it was first introduced to be a slur against. There are some similarities, I think.

Paul – I don’t see how you could use it except negatively.  

Jamie – On top of that, where is the line between it being used just casually and then offensively. How do you define that line? 

Paul – You wouldn’t say you were ‘out with a couple of faggots last night’. 

Is it possible that we are getting a bit hung over something that is just a word when there are real incidents of homophobia like the attack on that couple in London on New Years Day? Are we getting hung up on something that is kind of minor?

Paul – Probably, we are. The word has been there for a very long time. 

Jamie – I completely agree that people are focusing too much on tiny little things which especially in the context of the song are insignificant when you think about incidents like the attack on the couple. I think it’s become typical of the ‘snowflake generation’.

Paul – I think a lot of people get offended on other people’s behalf. 

Daniel – That’s exactly the point I was going to make. I can decide what I get offended over, I don’t need other people to do that for me. 

Paul – If I’m offended by something I will say so. 

Jamie – I think it’s all part of people jumping on the bandwagon. 

Recently a popular clothing brand released a jacket which was completely adorned with the word ‘faggot’. They claimed the point was to tackle homophobia. Does that really ring true? 

Daniel – I’d like to think that their hearts were in the right place but the execution of it was poor. Anything that a large brand can do to help tackle homophobia is amazing but I don’t think plastering the word faggot all over a jacket is the way forward because there is no one who is going to feel comfortable enough to wear it in public anyway and if someone did have the balls to wear it in public then more power to them but it’s almost inviting those people who do not see it for what it is to use the word at them. You’ve literally plastered it over yourself anyway so it’s okay to then have it shouted at you. 

Paul – They probably don’t make them in my size anyway! But probably not. 

Jamie – I’ve seen the jacket and other than the fact it doesn’t look very attractive I think you are prescribing yourself to be a target. 

Paul – About a year ago there were two lesbians who brought out a clothing range called ‘Dykke’, but I don’t think a clothing range called ‘faggot’ would be such a good idea. 

Jamie – I think it’s throwing it in the face of people in society who are a little less than accepting and you’re just asking yourself for homophobic abuse. I wouldn’t walk through to Piccadilly Gardens during the day wearing that. 

Going back to the song I think what we’ve gathered here is that no one is actually offended by it. For the sake of this article I did try to find people to partake who were offended and I could not find anyone who really differed from the opinions the three of you have stated. 

Jamie – I think if the word is beeped out does it not just highlight the word even more. You can pretty much guarantee if the song is playing in a club the DJ would mute the music at that moment and everyone would shout the word. 

Does anyone have any closing remarks?

Paul – I don’t think so, there are worse words. 

Jamie – I think people need to lighten up a bit. 

Daniel – I think that focusing on faggot is a way of ignoring wider issues within the community, it’s almost a scapegoat when it is a just a word when there are real issues of homophobia. 

Published: 8-Feb-2019

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