Melanie Pang" />
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Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Tolerance comes from respect

Walk around Montrose, and you might hear offensive phrases pertaining to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals/transgenders while eavesdropping on some playful conversation between friends.

It may be wrong, but it’s no wonder society uses these terms so freely, when some members of the LGBT community use them casually in everyday conversation.

Our dependency on classifications stems from a strong need to organize our ideas to better understand our world.

Unfortunately, generalizations are often used as the basis for understanding societal norms, but time should tell us that they are wrong, no matter how widely used. Although our sexualities do not solely define us as people, if we insist upon using labels, shouldn’t we at least try to find the right words?

What often drives derogatory slang is the usage of stereotypes and generalizations. With poor representation in the media, such as Katy Perry’s songs "Ur So Gay" and "I Kissed a Girl," the LGBT community has a new barricade that will be difficult to break.

While tapping into mainstream radio, Perry has managed to undermine a kiss between girls, write off bisexuality as mere curiosity and make gay men into makeup-wearing tools.

But who wants to listen to a song about the political correctness of being gay? Who wants to hear a song titled, "I Love a Girl and Now Society Shuns Me?" And with Perry’s contagious dance beats, the songs are reaching the top of the charts, and one can only hope that everyone is just humoring her lyrics.

Political correctness can be boring and restrictive, but completely disregarding the fact that "gay" is often given a negative connotation can gradually slip society into a state of apathy. "Gay" should never be synonymous with "stupid."

The "Homophobia is Gay" campaign was launched in 2006 by the Liberal Democrat Youth and Students in the United Kingdom to stop homophobic bullying in schools, with its title playing on the double meaning of the word gay as an implication of disapproval.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation posted offensive terminology found in the media on its Web site. "Sexual preference" is offensive since this implies a choice, one a person could intentionally change. What was most common among a few other terms listed was the need to remove "homosexual" from language that is common to everyone. For example, "homosexual couple" and "homosexual lifestyle" could just be "couple" and "lifestyle."

If you truly want to get politically correct about it, "gay marriage" is not the correct term.

"Marriage for gay and lesbian couples" is the right wording; however, it’s often referred to as gay marriage since space will not always permit. Hermaphrodite is outdated – the term to use is "intersex person."

Transvestite, according to GLAAD, is a derogatory word used to refer to cross-dressers. As for transgendered individuals, it should go without saying that "she-male," "he-she" and "it," are offensive, with the latter being dehumanization at its worst. The common epithets used by many to describe the LGBT community should always be avoided.

With all the labels and terms, it’s hard to know how to refer to someone of one of the many differing lifestyles without being politically incorrect or offensive. When at a loss for the correct label, ask, or maybe just call them by their name.

Younger generations are taught that we are all unique individuals, from the color of our hair to the shape of our bodies.

However, no one ever told us to expect that we’ll be different in our ways of thinking, in the ways we view ourselves and the ways we see each other – that maybe we all don’t fit perfectly into one classification. It seems that no one ever taught us that there is no such thing as "normal." It’s a difficult balance to desire to be treated the "same as everyone else," and yet be recognized as unique, but it’s a worthwhile struggle to be at peace with and loved for exactly who you are.

Pang, a communication senior, can be reached via [email protected]

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