Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Word of the Gay: "Faggot"

"Faggot" - A pejorative word describing homosexual men or those who embrace feminine or stereotypical gay male behavior patterns. The origin of the term is controversial but "faggot" has traditionally meant a bundle of sticks and thus in reference to gay men would insinuate the action of burning a gay man at the stake.

The word "faggot" or "fag" has been used predominantly in North America but has spread internationally as a slang word to describe gay men.

In recent years a minority of Queer activists have sought to reclaim the word and wear the label proudly.

Most LGBT people still find the word deeply offensive and it is widely used to disparage people regardless of their orientation and has been included in much of the bullying and violence that occurs in society today.

15 comments:

Miss Vicki said...

I don't like that word.

Chimera said...

The etymology of the word, "faggot" is neither obscure nor unknown.

In the sixties and early seventies, the word, "fag" was also used as a slang for "cigarette," (and in Britain, it still is used that way) which coincided nicely with the history of the word's usage.

If we as a civilized people keep allowing the phobics to steal our language and turn it against us -- and us against the language -- pretty soon we will all be silent for lack of words with which to speak, and the phobics will have won.

Lesberita said...

I think I find this word more offensive than any other word, even most profanities. Whenever I hear it, it seriously makes my skin crawl. Most people probably don't even understand the roots of the word which doesn't surprise me because most users are ignorant homophobes.

Queers United said...

Thanks Chimera for sharing greater depth on the word. I knew that fag was used for cigs in the U.K. but didn't know that was part of its original usage here in the states.

Ceara said...

I don't like the word faggot. It sounds too much like maggot. Both meaning something which people find disgusting.

Thanks for the word info.

C.

phd in yogurtry said...

I use the word, or its abbreviated "fag" to refer to cigarettes. As in, "I need fag."

Otherwise, hooray for gay men claiming it as their own. I'm all for that. Its a powerful tool, reclaiming. Steals some of the thunder.

J said...

i'd like to know where you came up with using the phrase Word of the Gay?

Queers United said...

Hey J - it rhymed with day so I just kinda went with it being my goofy self.

CrackerLilo said...

As a woman, I don't feel I have any right to use that word at all, and I spell it "f*gg*t" when I have to quote it. (I do the same with a couple other slurs commonly applied to people different from myself.) I didn't know some men were taking the word back. That's a good thing to know.

Queers United said...

cracker i dont think the movement to take it back is huge but it definitely is gaining steam and is interesting to watch. i mean who would have thought queer or dyke would be reclaimed only a few short years ago yet now queer is empowering and inclusive and dyke is used as a term of empowerment and liberation as well.

Anonymous said...

A "word" in and of itself does not hold this power. It is the intent and direction given it by an individual. For example a misogynist says, "well, what do you expect from a Woman?" Now the word "woman" is not inherently bad or wrong, but its presentation and implication have intoned a less than favorable meaning. I personally have adopted "Queer" as a adjective/pronoun because I embrace its implecations although it is still used by homophobes in a hateful way. It is almost comical now when someone attempts to hurt me with a term I hold near and dear. I believe that we need to prioritize where our offenses occur. With so much actual physical Violence occuring worldwide on a daily basis towards Queers, I am more likely to focus my attentions there than on the Proverbial "Sticks and Stones". P.S. I realize that I am responding as an adult and I know that painful words can hurt our Queer younger brothers and sisters in a very strong way so I mean no disrespect> But lets please keep up the dialogue because it is valuable and important to all of us. Love Jofish

Rainbow Demon said...

Chimera and Jofish make good points.

About reclaiming the word:

We have often followed the Civil Rights movement as a guideline for our own movement. The African American Community has reclaimed the "N" word and thinks it should be banned. The Hip-Hop music "industry" tends to abuse the word.

Do you think we should do the same with the "F" word or the "Q" word?

When physical abuse is connected to those words, they are as ugly as any other words would be in the same instance.

Just wondering...

Peace,
=RD=

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ChristopherCaldwell said...

As a gay man, I embrace the label faggot, although I find altogether too much that straight supremisists use it derisively.

Leira said...

Actually, the word faggot never referred to homosexual men being burned at the stake. I was doing a research paper on the etymology of the word faggot and it at one point refered to witches and heretics being burned alive at the stake when used in the phrase 'fire and faggots'. This was because women who sold faggots (bundles of sticks) to make money in the 1400s were usually related to witches and they in turn became known as faggots. It is assumed that witches and heretics had homosexual behaviors, but they were burned for being witches and heretics, not for being homosexual. Although one can argue that if someone was homosexual, they were seen as a deviant, a heretic. But when they were burned, it was on the accusation of being a heretic, not the fact that they were homosexuals.

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