The one good thing about chauffeuring teenagers and their friends around to their many critically important appointments (e.g. the ones with the salesgirls at Pac Sun) is that they often seem to forget that there's not a glass privacy screen between them and their limo driver; I get to hear the teen tribe speak in their native tongue rather than the grown-up as a second language that they speak to us directly. So I'm driving them, and mom's boring alternative radio station is on for aural camouflage. They're talking about what they're going to do in the junior-high musical. One of the twins says, "I might do sound," and their best friend responds, "Oh sound is so gay! You should do stage crew." Suffice it to say, they didn't end up doing sound.
So let me say here that these are girls who, during their childhood, were taken every month to a "Families Like Ours" (Gay, Lesbian, interracial, and otherwise oddball families) potluck social. They know and are at ease with the many openly gay men and lesbians in our world. And we've always told them, "Love is rare enough that it doesn't matter where it comes from." Blah, blah, blah.
So I have some wonderings (not,'How can they allow their friend to use that as a slur?!' I remember being a teenager well enough to know that not being seen as a dork is a whole lot more important than anybody's rights, gay or otherwise). What I wonder is:
1. What does their friend, in this context, mean by "gay?" It's clearly not 'homosexual' because, unless things are REALLY different these days, sound crew is the province of geeks not gays (and I know some of the kids doing it -- geeks). So....
2.is "gay" just the only acceptable all-purpose slur left? The twins are asian and their friend is multiracial, but even if they were white, I really can't imagine them saying, 'Oh sound is so Asian,' or 'Sound is so black.' So does it have some nuanced meaning to them? Unmanly? OK, but they're not guys so who cares? Finicky? Then why not say 'it's too picky....'?
3. What do my daughters think when they hear it? Do they think of their former (lesbian) babysitter who they adored? Do they think of our many lovely friends and wince internally? Or is it, to them, just meaningless junior-high speak -- like girls calling each other 'dude?'
If I were to ask the girls, they'd just look pained and mumble, "I don't know." And I don't know either, but I listen and wonder, and it does keep my brain busy while I drive them all over creation.
Any thoughts, anyone?