Monday, May 5, 2008

UK Gay

Welcome to the Gay UKAw, those crazy Brits. It's always something. And it's usually amusing. This time, we're looking across the pond to the BBC reference tool the E-cyclopedia. Over on the BBC's fine website, they open one of their E-cyclopedia articles with the following statement: "Amid rising debate - inspired by the UK Government and legal authorities - about what are suitable terms for minority sexual groups, here as a special public service, is a one-stop primer clarifying what words are in and out about being in or out." Huh. Sort of like "A British Guide To Acceptable Words To Use When Describing Someone Who Is Gay"? OK, then. Now, granted, this article was from 2002, but since everything is still in effect and relevant, so is the article. Onward.

According to the E-cyclopedia, "The UK government has decided that, following consultation with the gay community, the term homosexual will not be used in its papers." (The term "papers" refers to legislation.) Really? Apparently, the word was originally intended, by one Karl Maria Kertbeny of Hungary in 1869, to stop the use of the word "pederast" (which means "one who practices intercourse, especially with a boy." Well, THAT doesn't sound good at all. I'm glad ol' Karl stepped in when he did.). And while the UK government isn't going back to "pederast", they're not totally sold on "homosexual" either.

But in the anti-discrimination laws, which apparently are different that your run of the mill "legislation" over there, the UK government will replace the word "homosexual" with the term "OTPOTSS". (WTF?) "OTPOTSS" stands for "Orientation Towards People Of The Same Sex". I don't care what it stands for, I don't like it. It sounds like a cross between an opossum and an octopus. And can you imagine what that would look like? I can. It would look something like this:

The Octo-possum

And that's just wrong. (It's certainly not right.) Why can't "homosexual" or "OTPOTSS" just be replaced with "gay" like it is in the rest of the legislation? It sounds better, you don't need a thesaurus and you're already using a word that means the same thing! I think it's just the work of someone who really likes acronyms. (Maybe they used to work for the US Government.)

They do seem to be OK with the term "gay", however. The thing is, they're not quite sure how long they're going to be OK with it and they don't think it will be around long. (They don't explain why that is, which I find extremely odd.) Those who are in favor of keeping the term "gay" around say that "when judges were considering hate crimes against gays, they would best understand a simple term like "gays". (Um, if they have to dumb things down for the judges over there so that they are able to understand the oh-so complicated concept of "gay", that brings to light a whole different issue, now, doesn't it?) So, if the term "gay" is going to become obsolete, they're going to need to replace it with something, right?

Well, I'm not looking to Philip Hensher to be the guy who defines the new term. He says that when young people use the term "gay" it means "hopelessly naff". (And now for the definition of "naff". Who knew this British stuff was going to require so much explaining? "Naff" basically has the same meaning as when the term "gay" is used to describe something lame. So they're using it the same way some of us are using it. Side note: In looking for this definition, I learned it is also used in the gay community of London as a dismissive term when used toward heterosexuals in the context of an acronym meaning "Not Available For Fucking". Who knew?) But back to Mr. Hensher. Yeah, he suggests, as a replacement for "gay", using the term "sodomites". I suggest we don't ask his opinion for anything else. Ever.

Mmmmmm....Bacon.Although "gay" will be used for hate crimes, the term LBGT, will be used to define the groups which can be targeted for homophobic hate crimes. (The acronym LBGT stands for "Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Trans-People". If they didn't include the gays in that one, they'd have the term BLT, which wouldn't really represent a targeted group for hate crimes as much as it would a targeted group for a tasty sandwich.) I don't know how they can use "homophobic" when they're against "homosexual". It appears to be very "homo-selective" if you're asking me.

After all of the misfortune of being lesbian floating around these days, you'll be happy to know that the UK government sees absolutely nothing wrong with the term lesbian and the use of it may continue. (Such a relief to know that I can continue my usage of lesbians. Or something like that. Regardless, it's all good. Or it should be. It certainly was.)

You know, I've come to the conclusion that if people put half as much effort into how to just accept those who are gay, (or homosexual, OTPOTSS, naff, lesbian, transgender, transsexual, transcontinental, bisexual or anything I left out) as they put into trying to figure out what to call those who are any or all of the above gay references, we'd all be a lot better off. (We'd definitely be better off than anything that requires a bunch of legislators to convene in order to figure it out.)

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2 comments:

Camdyn said...

Keep up the good work.

Mare said...

Thank you. And thanks for reading.