Thursday, 7 May 2009

Our Complicated Lexicon

This post is in response to the comments on this post on Michael Szollosy's blog Excretera (which, by the way, is excellent, though a working - or at least idling - knowledge of psychoanalytic theory helps.)

It was getting too complicated to further hijack the Sloz's comments, so here's the deal.
'Go gay' and 'Turn gay' are both used quite derogatorily (word? word.)to imply that a person has been in some way corrupted into homosexuality. The reason is that both phrases rest on the heterosexist assumption that everyone starts out straight by nature, but some people deviate form this natural form to embrace alternative sexualities by their own volition.

Similarly the concept of 'turning someone gay' or 'making someone go gay' implies that gay people are recruited by predatory gay types who have already 'turned' or 'been turned' themselves.
The preferred term is 'coming out' or 'identifying one's sexuality'. This is because the favoured thinking is that people come to a realisation about a pre-existing sexuality which ahs previously been ignored or repressed because of insidious cultural pressure to be heterosexual. I don't know if this is the case, but it is the hegemony within the LGBT community. Myself, I suspect things of being FAR more complex.
That said, 'turning (someone) gay' is no more or less heterosexist a phrase than 'going gay'. I just think that as long as we're talking in those terms, the former is more elegant.

Similarly I would speak of 'turning someone vegetarian' rather than 'making someone go vegetarian'. If I were vegetariphobic...

Incidentally, for the benefit of other readers, Michael is totally down with the gays and all that. It was ME who started all this gay stuff, because he nicked the joke about getting a toaster oven for recruitment of lesbians (first used on the 'Puppy' episode of Ellen. Don't mess with a girl who simultaneously came out and did a Media Studies A-level in 1999!) to deprecate his own militant vegetarianism. (Yes, Michael, a salad spinner it is - If I ever do turn to the dark green side, yours will be in the post.) I still think tofu tastes of sick, but am, for the record, starting to regard my meat addiction as a vice rather than a virtue.

Thankyou for your time



  1. I like your reference to tofu and can only stomache so much of it myself.

  2. Now I did it. Too long to print here, so I put it on my blog. (Really, isn't this what they invented email for in the first place?)

    Go here: