As you are probably aware, the word gay has changed meaning over the years. Originally it had several meanings: cheery, bright, high-spirited merriment. Over the years, it evolved (is that the right word?) to mean "homosexual," much to the dismay of some women I know named "Gay."
In the past few years, the word gay has taken a new, unofficial meaning, especially among teenagers. Gay is used to describe ANYTHING or ANYONE they don't like. To be called gay, a person doesn't have to exhibit any type of behavior that might be attributed to an actual gay person.
Actual exchange in my classroom:
#1: Hey, let me borrow a bathroom pass?
#2: I've only got one left and I'm saving it.
#1: You're so gay.
Or how about this:
#1: Did you watch American Idol last night?
#2: I don't like it.
#1: You're gay.
#1: What'd you make on your quiz?
#3: Man, you gay.
The best I can tell, gay has about 137 meanings to my students. It can mean stupid, nerdy, uncool, uninformed, quiet, loud, friendly, hateful, and so on and so on. If someone does or says anything they don't like, they're gay.
But here's what really bugs me: they call inanimate objects GAY!
Shirts are gay, classes are gay, homework is gay, hair is gay, tests are gay, shoes are gay, posters are gay, holidays are gay (that could work if they meant the old meaning), books are gay, restaurants are gay, EVERYTHING IS GAY.
Want an example?
Me: Put your drink away, please.
Student: It's just water.
Me: I know but you can't have it out in class.
Another Student: Water is gay.
First Student: No you're gay!
Wait, WATER is gay? That doesn't even begin to make sense. It took every ounce of willpower not to say, "You're both retarded." (I know, I know, that's not a nice thing to say either).
It gets more confusing, though. In the next class, a student referred to something as "straight." I asked him if he understood the directions and he replied, "I'm straight."
Hmm. Is this totally unrelated or at some point did students actually start referring to good things as "straight" and things they didn't like as "gay"? I'm curious. I'm pretty certain that "straight" has been around for awhile in that context but I'm not sure. I asked my students if they deliberately use the words as antonyms or if it's just coincidence. They looked at me like I was speaking Portuguese.
Am I the only one who's annoyed by the misuse of gay?