What's the difference between a gay man and a fag?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by MisterMark, Mar 28, 2009.

?

What's the difference between a gay man and a fag? (you may choose more than one)

  1. No difference. All gay men are fags.

    14.3%
  2. "Gay" describes a regular gay guy. "Fag" describes a very effeminate and/or obnoxious gay guy.

    37.1%
  3. "Fag" is an insult that often has nothing to do with sexual orientation.

    54.3%
  4. "Gay" is an insult that often has nothing to do with sexual orientation.

    8.6%
  5. Other definitions (please explain)

    2.9%
  1. MisterMark

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    Serious question. It used to be that the two words both simply meant homosexual, with "fag" being a crude and derogatory term for it. I think the words have evolved, however, so that they don't mean exactly the same thing.

    Opinions? Your definitions?
     
    #1 MisterMark, Mar 28, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009
  2. bek2335

    bek2335 New Member

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    None of your answers in your poll are OK. The use of the word "fag" is derogatory, period. Your question is like asking, "What's the differnece between an African-American and a nigger?".
     
  3. MisterMark

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    I wasn't looking for approval. I was asking how people define the words.

    You can't say that a word is "derogatory, period" unless you know the meaning of the word. By comparing "gay and "fag" to "African-American" and "nigger", you're effectively admitting that, although you find it offensive, the word "fag" describes a homosexual male.
     
    #3 MisterMark, Mar 28, 2009
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  4. bek2335

    bek2335 New Member

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    Admitting? Definition? What difference does it make? The word is offensive. The fact that you have no percentages posted about your own sexual preference make it more offensive. If you were a gay or mostly gay man, and were saying so without reservation, you might have some justification for asking such a question. But even then, the selection you provide for answers to your poll are nothing but an invitation for rants from homophobes and bigots.
     
  5. B_Think_Kink

    B_Think_Kink New Member

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    Fag is an offensive word used to describe a gay man.
     
  6. MisterMark

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    All words have meanings. That's all I'm asking about. From what I've observed - especially among younger people - the words "gay" and "fag" are sometimes used as insults that have nothing to do with sexual orientation.

    I don't see how my having or not having percentages about my own sexual orientation make any difference, unless you're saying that a double-standard is okay. I think you're suggesting that it's acceptable for a gay guy to ask this question, but not for a straight guy. I don't agree with that at all.

    I don't think you give the members here enough intellectual credit. I believe we can have an intelligent discussion about controversial topics on this board. I've seen it many times before.
     
  7. Bbucko

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    I use both in everyday speech, along with queer, poof, bum-bandit and truffle-nudger.

    Words only have to power you assign to them, and insults only work when you let them.

    I object to words like "regular" and "obnoxious" and will not take part in the survey for that reason. I'm surprised that "normal" didn't make an appearance.

    Edited to add: I did not find the words offensive, but I do not recognize anyone's right to label me in a way that I do not label myself.
     
    #7 Bbucko, Mar 28, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009
  8. MisterMark

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    I did use "normal" at first, but then thought that "regular" was more appropriate.
     
  9. Bbucko

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    That's what I thought.
     
  10. midlifebear

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    One morning when I was 16 my female high school debate partner's sister rushed up to me grinning and asked "Hey (person who is now Midlifebear)! What's a faggot? I asked my dad, but he told me to ask you because he says you'd be a better person to ask!"

    I didn't take the bait, but I did calmly answer "The dictionary defines a faggot as a bundle of sticks." She seemed disappointed, but temporarily satisfied that she hadn't ruined my day.

    My debate partner's father thought he was "cool" by letting us use his little Ford Falcon station wagon for "extra curricular activities." Before we could borrow it he'd make me sit and play one game of chess with him where I had to bet a quarter which he kept whether he won or lost. This was one of his "rules" for getting to know the boys interested in his three daughters. He also kept a pint of Jim Beam in the glove box to temp everyone, assuming we were all so scared of him no one would ever touch it.

    One evening my debate partner and I went to a drive-in double feature of Rosemary's Baby and To Sir With Love. We split the Jim beam, mixing it with two fountain cokes then fucked around in the back of the station wagon. I was "her first", sigh. She confirmed three months later that she was pregnant and soon afterward I was kicked out of my parents' home -- "banned for life."

    To summarize
    , I've never been offended by the term faggot except when accompanied by a discharged bullet from a hand gun. :biggrin1:
     
    #10 midlifebear, Mar 28, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009
  11. MisterMark

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    This is interesting. The votes so far are not what I expected.

    I didn't realize that calling someone "fag" often had little to do with sexual orientation. Maybe that's because I'm gay.

    I have a feeling that, if straight guys call each other "fag", it's more of a funny insult that isn't taken as seriously as if a straight guy calls a gay guy "fag". Am I right?
     
  12. sykray

    sykray Active Member

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    Whatever the alleged or actual failings in expressing the concepts, I take this to be a serious question.

    However, I see this as a US semantic debate and perhaps I shouldn't contribute. For me, a British man in Thailand, a fag is a cigarette; a faggot is either a bundle of sticks for fire-making or it refers to a British regional type of meatloaf; regular means that something occurs at fixed intervals of time.

    One point I'm making is that words do not have fixed definitions. Gay was chosen as a self referrent term because the other words were pejorative and, properly, the word homosexual refers adjectivally to activities rather than people.

    Language is a "living" developing entity and it soon became clear that gay could be used as a derogation or insult - sometimes about sexual orientation but not necessarily. You have already accepted that word meanings evolve.

    We have to ask the user of any word what he or she means by it or infer the meaning from the context or from the tone and attitude in which it is spoken.

    Some people will never use the word "fag" except to mean cigarette or in terms of describing a younger student in a British private educational establishment being a servant to an older student. Others mean it in reference to all gay men. Others only to gay men that they judge to be effeminate or obnoxious.

    Your mistake is in assuming that we can attach fixed meanings to words. English usage can lead to a dictionary listing the word's current denotative meaning. It is much less easy to know its connotative meaning - though connotations can be listed.

    My personal usage of words is that homosexual refers to any sexual or erotic act that involves members of the same sex; gay refers to any man who can fairly comfortably acknowledge that he is more significantly sexually attracted to other men though also carries the implication that romantically and emotionally he is attracted (lesbian would be the word I use to refer to women); I would rarely use fag but when I do I use the non-sexual and non-perjorative meanings of cigarette or younger male servant.

    Beyond these oparational definitions I do not comfortably use labels like gay, straight, bisexual, curious as if they define a person. There are many threads here where people ask if X or Y means that a person is gay. For me, 2 or more men may engage in sexual activities without defining or labelling themselves as gay. Just as a "gay" man fucking a woman doesn't suddenly get redefined as straight ot bisexual.
     
    #12 sykray, Mar 28, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009
  13. D_Kay_Sarah_Sarah

    D_Kay_Sarah_Sarah Account Disabled

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    Fag is a very derogatory word BUT its ok to call your friends that as long as they have a sense of humor :biggrin1: (ie - for them to call me a fag hag must mean they are ok with me calling them fags)
     
  14. MisterMark

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    I appreciate all of your thoughts, but no, I'm not assuming that we can attach fixed meanings to words at all. On the contrary, the reason I'm asking the question and taking the poll is precisely because I recognize that words do often have multiple meanings. My goal is to get some of idea of how much the word "fag" has changed and evolved in meaning.

    In reading comments online and hearing conversations between people younger than I (I'm 39), I've gotten the impression that - similar to the word "gay" - the word "fag" no longer necessarily means "homosexual" - at least in American English usage. Among American young men in particular, calling your friend "fag" is equivalent to calling him "jerk" (in a friendly way). Calling a friend "fag" or "dick" is certainly cooler than calling him a "jerk", which I believe has a somewhat feminine quality to it. It's not a word that guys use as often as girls.

    We had a big discussion here a few months ago about the phrase "that's so gay" and whether or not homosexual men should be offended by it. At first, I strongly believed that it was offensive to use "gay" as a pejorative, but as I did more research, I learned that - again, especially among younger people - the word "gay" sometimes has nothing to do with homosexuality. It may have started out as a negative reference to homosexuality, but it has evolved for many to simply mean that something is dumb, frustrating, or broken. I don't take offense to it anymore.

    By the way, I've been told by young men in England that the word "fag" - especially amongst younger men - has evolved to mean "homosexual" just as much as it means "cigarette". It's used as a pejorative among children, just as much as it is in the U.S. For reference, here's a report on insults used by British schoolchildren:

    How 'gay' became children's insult of choice in Britain
     
    #14 MisterMark, Mar 28, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009
  15. D_Miranda_Wrights

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    I always use "fag" to embody the parts of gay culture I care for least. I wish there were an analogous heterosexual term, because god knows the arch-stereotypical frat-boy BS needs some derision.

    As a straight guy, I always think it's unfortunate that the gay community can sometimes be outwardly hostile to effeminate gay men. That's probably neither here nor there.
     
  16. MisterMark

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    I think the terms may be "asshole" and "dick", just to name a couple.

    It's yet another result of a society that values masculinity over femininity, especially in men. Gay men aren't immune to it, unfortunately.
     
  17. D_Ivana Dickenside

    D_Ivana Dickenside New Member

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    isn't fag another word for cigarette? :confused:
     
  18. MisterMark

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    Obviously I'm not talking about cigarettes. :rolleyes:
     
  19. rawbone8

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    I thought that the term fag is derived from faggot (meaning the bundle of sticks), but in particular it was a shortened slang form of "flaming faggot". It seems that "flaming" (faggotry) still refers today to a particularly effeminate and dramatically exaggerated in-your-face kind of persona. The flaming diva/queen who conceals nothing, and perhaps lays it on in "affected" way.

    I've heard fag used (and have used it myself) as a derogatory put down. "Queer" seemed to rank as the equivalent level of put down among my social group when I was a teenager in the 70s in Canada.

    "Gay" seems much more tame in comparison, and has been promoted as a positive in cultural propaganda for so long, that gay + pride seem inseparable now in common parlance. I agree that gay as a put down today is offered more as a goofy insult on the playground, as in "That's so gay."
     
    #19 rawbone8, Mar 29, 2009
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  20. MisterMark

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    rawbone8, yes, I agree with most of what you said. I wasn't looking for the origin of the word "fag", however, I was asking how people use it today as it relates to gays in general.

    My impression is that "fag" is now used as an insult that often has nothing to do with a guy's sexual orientation, whereas in the past, "fag" was a vulgar term to describe a male homosexual.
     
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