Something about the use of slurs in terms of making jokes wears more heavily on me now than it formerly did. What I mean is that some of my best friends really love slurs, especially when they’re in the sanctity of my home, where the public can’t hear them.
There’s harmful diction, and then there’s the normalization of said diction. My friends do not call me a faggot. They never have, and certainly don’t think of me in the negative connotation the term regards. However, it can be easily said that it’s not their word to say. In fact, I would go as far to say it’s not mine, either, even as the non-binary individual of our group.
In the discussion of slurs as part of any language lexicon, there’s the proclivity to “take back” these terms. One of the more notable ones is how “queer” is widely embraced by the LGBTQ+ community, practically as a synonym. I’d argue that cishet people still shouldn’t say the word, but it’s not as derogatory or destructive as “faggot,” which is undoubtedly not politically correct.
Linguistic reappropriation, or the method of reclaiming words that once were utilized to demean a group of people, has been incorporated into the queer community to varying levels of acceptance. Despite the widespread aversion to do so, many have opted to reclaim “faggot” not as a pejorative slang term but rather a word of empowerment.
As a queer person myself, I can’t disenfranchise the importance of activistic pride in the effort to protest the hate speech of cishet white people who devised the term. Yet my compulsion to use the term myself is nonexistent. Perhaps I’m wary of reclaiming hateful language because of its lashes against me in the past.
I know I cannot speak for all queer people who have suffered from hate rhetoric. The queer poet, Danez Smith, in their most recent collection, “Homie,” discuss at length both the attemptive reclamation and repulsion to the word “faggot,” which, at its most evocative, really does inspire and empower me. Smith acknowledges and observes microscopically the nuances of the term, with both celebration and disgust toward the mouths that said it to them.
My trouble, though, is that I just don’t want anyone to say it. In my writing of this, I’ve already said it many times. But this seems to prolong my concern—how many more times do I need to say it for other people to stop?