Saturday, November 24, 2007

I am gay today

This is one of those rapid fire questions which need an immediate answer: What does the word 'Gay' mean to you? If you, like me, had answered it before you had a chance to think about your answer, your answer would have been one of the words commonly used to indicate homosexuals and homosexuality. I also know of people who would have taken time to think about their answer and would have still come up with the same words as you and I. But how many of us would have associated the word 'Gay' with 'Happiness' or 'Brightness' or 'Merriment' or any of those other words that it was originally supposed to mean? Based on my experience, none.

I am thinking, in spite of the fact that that activity ends up giving me a head ache that could put the worst migraine to shame, and because of that thinking, I think I know the reason for what I said above. The English language has, at last count, so many words that I am not sure I know exactly how many there are. I am sure no one knows exactly either. My point is that not a lot of people actually work towards making all those words a part of their vocabulary. The average vocabulary consists of words that are learnt as part of formal education. But the majority of that average vocabulary consists of what is picked up as we go about living our lives. We read magazines, news papers, books and their ilk and pick up words. We hear conversations, debates, arguments, threats and their ilk and pick up words. Even as we are consciously and subconsciously adding to our vocabulary, we aren't adding just new words. Rather we are associating words with contexts and meanings and then adding them to the dictionary in the head. That is the same dictionary we go and refer, time and time again, as we continue living our lives. And this nicely brings me back to my point of what the word 'Gay' means to almost everyone. We hear, and see, that word most commonly and widely used in reference to the gay community and that's how people end up knowing it.

Phew! Lecture over. Why the lecture? Actually I don't know. I could have just said, "We are all the products of social conditioning" and spared myself from having to come up with those three hundred odd words to try and express the same. But if I had just said that one sentence, my post would have been 8 words long! May be I wanted a post that was more that 8 words long.


lordmanilastone said...

Social conditioning is true I agree, sometimes I want to use that word "gay" to mean happiness but because of the stigma attached to it, I am reminded consciously and sub-consciously to use an alternative, hihihi...

me said...

:o). I wonder how that word got associated with homosexuality in the first place.