1. JillOfHearts
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    JillOfHearts Member

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    Is it still okay to use 'gay'?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by JillOfHearts, Dec 15, 2011.

    I mean 'gay' as in happy. Would you still consider it acceptable? I am interested to hear everyone's opinions.
    (I should've said this earlier, I would be using the word in a story set it Victorian times)
     
  2. CiaDavis
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    CiaDavis Member

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    Don't see why not.
     
  3. Tenelen
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    Tenelen Member

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    I think it depends on a few factors.

    If you are writing a book in an older time period I think it makes more sense, but if you were to use it in a modern-times based novel it wouldn't be as acceptable. I also wonder what kind of environment and who your target audience is. If you are writing a fantasy modern time novel with your target audience being teens, I don't think it would be appropriate because I don't think they would understand what you were trying to say.

    You just have to worry about making sure your readers will understand what you mean by the word.
     
  4. Tenelen
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    Tenelen Member

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    Double post!!! :(

    This happens to me a lot on this site; is that normal?
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Not normal, but common. The site is messed up. No word on whether anyone is actively trying to fix it.
     
  6. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Every single teenager alive today has, at one point, used the retort, "Yeah! I am happy!" when having been called gay. We all know what gay used to mean.

    It's kind of like the overuse of the word "queer" in Lord of the Rings. You just have to ask yourself whether there's some other word you can use. You know, like happy, or mirthful, or overjoyed. Find whatever works. If gay works, use gay.
     
  7. Froggy
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    Froggy Member

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    I'd say it depends on the context or lack thereof.
    "He was gay" by itself probably won't go over as well as "laughing gaily" or "gay decorations" - if you've established what kind of party it is ;).
    It also depends on your audience, their generation and education. Younger, less educated readers may not see past the street meaning.

    I have a friend who was contemplating using the word "fairy" as part of a business name (borrowing it from a local geographical formation), but the lady who does his publicity got very upset, because she associates the term with homosexuality. When he asked if I saw a problem with it, all I thought of, was Tinkerbell in the Disney DVD logo. Only when he mentioned her concerns, did i make the connection.
    Now they both have 20-40 years on me, and I happen to read a fair bit of fantasy, plus English is not my first language (so i probably noticed the term used that way in a movie, but never 'learned' the association) - could you get any more of a different audience? Nope.
    He thought long and hard, and in the end decided to use the name, because of the geographical significance. (that would be context btw)

    words and their associations change, 'cool' today and 30 years ago are near opposites, I remember a few years when everything was 'fat', who knows which 'gay' will last, but the educated reader ought to know where the word came from. Well, IMO it's actually more of a given than knowing the contemporary association.
     
  8. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    The fact that you even have to ask should tell you that it's not a good idea. Yeah, it used to mean happy, bright, etc, but the important thing is what the word means to readers, not what it means in the context of the story. And virtually every modern reader will pause on it, especially given that there was a whole period of crossover where the word was used in both ways and so readers for most of the 20th century at least have been conditioned to either interpret that word as explicitly or implicitly referring to homosexuality.
     
  9. TeeBee2011
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    TeeBee2011 Member

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    I don't see a problem with it. If it's an historical story, then using words from that era should be fine.
     
  10. Allan Paas
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    Allan Paas Contributing Member

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    The first thought that comes to my mind when reading the word "gay" is definitely not happy. Whether to use the word or not think about what is the first thing that comes to mind while reading it. If it is not what you want it to be then there are other words to say the same.
     
  11. CraigPay
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    CraigPay Banned

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    'Gay', 'queer','vexed' and a whole host of other period phrases are fine in a historical setting as long as you don't overdo them. Avoid any school-kid chuckling at those 'funny old words' or you're crossing a couple of lines.


    Craig Pay
    http://craigpay.com
    http://cutawaymagazine.co.uk
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto that!
     
  13. agentkirb
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    I think it's okay as long as it works to relay the message in your story to the audience. In short... it has to make sense. You can certainly use "gay" in Victorian times because it meant something different back then. But I think you can easily use the word "gay" in a book set today as long as it makes sense in context. You can have one of your characters say "Thats gay!" because it's a common phrase used today by the less mature in our society to mean "That's stupid.". You might think "wait, but isn't that offensive?" Yes, it is to some, but it also could be the easiest way to show to your reader what type of character this is.
     

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