The irony, of course, is that had Hallmark kept "gay" instead of replacing it with "fun," they couldn't have been accused of using it in a negative way. Sure, few people born after 1925 still use "gay" when they mean "happy," but they're not incorrect when they do.
These days, "gay," of course, is used by most people to mean homosexual. However, there are some people who use it in a pejorative way. To call something "so gay" is an insult. It can be anything, but if it's "so gay," hardly anyone except maybe your grandma means something positive. Someone calling something or someone "so gay" is being hurtful, derogatory and demeaning to gay people - whether or not the person or thing they're calling "so gay" is gay or not.
Becca Gorman, 15, is the daughter of two lesbians, so perhaps she's more sensitive to slurs than most kids her age. According to My Fox Boston, she looked up "gay" in Apple's dictionary while doing some work on a school project about gay history and found a shockingly offensive definition (see above, definition No. 3). She wrote a letter to Apple asking them if they were aware of the derogatory definition. An hour after receiving it, an Apple representative called and told her that the company, too, was shocked.
Shocked, maybe. OK, probably. But they still haven't done anything about it. (The screen shot above was taken by me on my computer just a little while ago.)
This isn't the first time that Apple has come under scrutiny for being on the wrong side of gay rights. A couple of years ago it took some arm twisting to get them to remove an app from the App Store that supposedly "cured" gay people of being gay.
Apple's dictionary definition of 'gay' aside, however, how is anyone still using "gay" in a negative way? Who has so much ice running in their veins that they are entirely numb to the fact that words can be more powerful than a punch or a slap?
Boulder, Colo.-based activist Ash Beckham said it perfectly in February when she spoke at Ignite Boulder 20:
"When you use 'gay' in a pejorative way, the effect that it has on the gay kid in the room or the kid with gay relatives is that being gay is less than or inferior to. And our bar cannot be that a day that you just get through life or just get through school and you don't get harassed qualifies as a good day."
Apple seems like a sensible company that has the means to get things done quickly (see: the timetable for the roll-out of the next-generation iPhone). Let's hope they'll move definition No. 3 to the top of their priority list. We don't need another phone, but we need to stop hurting people with our words.
- By Meredith Carroll