The “F” Word

This post is going to be offensive. The “F” word is going to be used a lot in this post, but I will refrain from vulgarity besides that. If you are easily offended, please avoid reading this post.

The word fagot is defined again by Webster as:

  • A bundle of sticks

This definition comes from an older time where criminals, witches, heathens, and homosexuals were burnt at the stake just because others considered themselves superior. To say someone is a fagot is to say “You are a bundle of sticks meant to be burnt” or in other words, “You deserve to be burnt at the stake.”

The word fagot is used constantly to degrade and harass individuals who are different, whether it is their gender identity, sexual orientation, or gender expression that is somehow not “normal.” This word is used against people who appear gay, bi, lesbian, or transgender, regardless of their actual orientation or identity. Even if you just are friends with a gay person, you can still be called a fagot.

It’s unfortunate, but true that anyone who identify as part of the LGBTQIA community will at some point be confronted with this word. In most cases, they will have to deal with hostility when this word is used. This word is used to tell us that we worth less than the one who said it. And every time this word is used, we have to relive or deal with each other time we were called it. Even just hearing the word in a movie can trigger, in many, memories of being called this by hateful street preachers, highly religious individuals who at one point may have been our friends, of being called this by classmates, coworkers, even just people in the street. So while someone may use the word without knowing its true meaning, without intending to be so damming and hateful, will invoke pain, hatred, and oppression based on years of experience.

This is especially true with kids. It is painfully common in our schools to hear the phrase “Fag.” I doubt the 7th grader really knows the power of the word they use, but that does not stop the word from having significant impact. Children especially are vulnerable to this sort of hatred and oppression. Their parents or friends might not understand or accept them, and these individuals may even have the audacity to use this word against their former loved one. When the bully in class attacks a child with this word, it may invoke all of those terrible memories of betrayal and hatred.

I have been confronted with this word numerous time. Hateful street preachers, random strangers driving by in a car, angry students. I think most activists especially have experience with this word.

But there is hope. When someone uses the “f” word, it can be an opportunity for education. Many who use the word have no idea the power it wields. So many people just need to be told once what they are actually saying when they use this word. If you hear this word used and you know it is a safe environment (do not go up to a group of big muscley men at a bar who use that word and tell them to stop!), you can use this opportunity to educate. Tell these people what the word means, where its from, and how much damage can be caused by this simple 5 letter word.

Also, I want to address, some LGBTQIA individuals have reclaimed this label, just like many African Americans have reclaimed the ‘n’ word. I personally don’t like to use it, but I know many individuals who like to announce that they are “total fags.” If you want to use this word, my only advice is to use it with caution. I can’t tell you when it is and is not ok. I can’t tell you in what situation using that word around other queer individuals is safe and when you can still do damage to those who you should be supporting.

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  1. Update on DeSales Homophobia « A Hope For More

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