My friend keeps using the word “gay” as a pejorative and refuses to stop. He claims that how other people interpret his words is not up to him, and that it’s not his fault if someone else is insulted by his use of “gay” in a negative sense because their reaction is a reflection of their own insecurities and weakness and that is not his fault. He is not homophobic; he has gay relatives as well as gay friends whom he loves, yet he refuses to change his language because according to him actions speak louder than words and he his actions show that he is a good person regardless of what he says. Other than bringing up the definition of “gay” to show him he is misusing the word in the first place, is there anything else I can say that will get him to stop? Or is he right in saying that the audience chooses the meaning of the word i.e. it’s only an insult if you make it one?
Your friend is being a giant douche, but not for the reason that you think.
Personally, I don’t care if he uses the word “gay” as a pejorative. If he wants to sound like a sophomoric jerk, that’s fine. Whatever. The problem isn’t that he’s choosing to be offensive. The problem is that he’s denying that he’s being offensive. That’s some cowardly bullshit.
He doesn’t get to deny that words have meaning, and that certain words are loaded with cultural significance. He knows damn well that he’s being offensive, and he even knows why. He should have the strength of character to admit that he simply doesn’t give a fuck.
If you’re gonna be an asshole, own it. Go ahead, be offensive, but at least have the courage to admit that’s what you’re doing.