There’s nothing ‘homophobic’ concerning the phrase ‘gay’

It is vitally irritating even to have to contemplate Owen Jones. He’s finest merely ignored. A left-wing buddy of mine is satisfied the Guardian columnist is a ‘state asset’. I scoff at her confidence on this perception, however you generally should marvel: was there a whispered method throughout a bop one night time at College School, Oxford again in 2004?

As a result of in the event you have been tasked with undermining the British left, you couldn’t make a greater fist of it than Jones. He encapsulates all of the worst stereotypes of the Twentieth-century bourgeois leftist – he’s tribally blind, petulant, obsessive about misplaced causes, an apologist for tyrants, working from false premises for spurious causes, without end sniping at middle-aged, gender-critical girls whereas styling himself as a Sir Galahad.

Sometimes, Jones is instructive, nevertheless, and we are able to study by means of him if not from him. This weekend was one such event, when he advised the world by means of the medium of X (previously Twitter) that ‘somebody who unironically describes homosexual folks as “gay” is sort of actually homophobic’. ‘Frankly, if anybody described me as a “gay”, I might regard that as one of the vital apparent crimson flags possible’, he added in one among many follow-up posts.

Earlier than I get to the substance of Jones’s argument, a facet situation. ‘Homophobia’ is the actually infelicitous – one would possibly virtually say problematic – phrase right here, fairly than gay. It now covers, like its cousin racism, such a variety of unfavorable actions – from overlooking somebody to murdering somebody. ‘Neighborhood’ is one other foolish phrase. There’s a gay inhabitants, sure. However the concept that we’re a homogenous gay mass, popping out and in of one another’s kitchens as we sing present tunes, is ridiculous. No person would discuss with the ‘heterosexual neighborhood’. Lil Nas X and David Starkey could each be homosexual, however they don’t have anything vital in widespread. Unusual as it might sound, gay males are very numerous in each method. It’s virtually as if we’re like actual folks.

Now, Owen is partly right when he says, ‘There’s a purpose homosexual activists agitated for “homosexual” to interchange “gay” – actually many years in the past!’. This was as a result of the phrase gay sounded medical and forbidding again then, and was used within the wording of disagreeable legal guidelines.

However a few of us are being compelled to make use of the time period gay once more now. It’s because no person within the Seventies (‘actually many years in the past’) may presumably have anticipated that ‘gender identification’ may turn out to be a factor. Our ancestors certainly can’t be blamed for this. They anticipated life in 2023 to be all cities on the moon, hover automobiles and silver sizzling pants, not Guardian journalists proclaiming that males will be lesbians or court docket studies utilizing the phrases ‘her penis’. They may not have recognized then that fifty years on the phrase ‘homosexual’ can be used to ‘embrace’ kinky straight males who get pleasure from gatecrashing lesbian bars, or straight girls fetishising gay boys and males to the extent of eager to ‘be’ them.

As Jones says: ‘The one homosexual folks making an attempt to reclaim “gay” are doing so to exclude trans folks.’ Sure, it does exclude these folks – ie, primarily straight women and men – from the fantastic world of homosexuality. It’s fairly astonishing to the aged like myself that straight folks now need in on all of the enjoyable after they used to need to throw harpoons at us, however my level nonetheless stands.

Worse nonetheless, we now have the entire LGBTQetc alphabet to take care of. Amusingly, you’ll generally see people described as being ‘LGBTQ+’, and even describing themselves as such, as an illustration, as ‘an LGBTQ+ man’. Are you able to be all of these issues on the similar time? It is a bit like describing a cow as ‘a cow-horse-chicken-window-volcano+ bovine quadruped’.

Homosexual simply gained’t do both. It has turn out to be a phrase that refers to a specific Twenty first-century cultural expression within the rich capitalist West. Gay is again, and as we speak it sounds bracing and likewise fairly naughty, attractive and brisk. Whereas homosexual has, because it at all times did, a feeble cadence, which lends itself to its retooling by noughties youngsters to imply pathetic or weak. Homosexual sounds flimsy and camp, as a result of that’s what it initially meant even earlier than it referred to homosexuals. It reeks of Greenwich Village in March 1971. However that world, sadly, is gone.

The time period gay is important once more as a result of it acknowledges the fact of intercourse and refutes the nonsense of gender. As a result of intercourse is vital, and the variations between the 2 human sexes and the three human sexual orientations are vital, notably within the readability of legislation. Even the Oxford English Dictionary has quietly shifted its definition of homosexuality again to the unique type to acknowledge the significance of intercourse. It just lately eliminated the final two phrases right here: ‘The standard or attribute of being sexually or romantically attracted solely to folks of 1’s personal intercourse or gender.’

Sure, gay was the phrase as soon as utilized by retired generals in nasty letters to the Day by day Telegraph in 1970. However guess what, Owen, as your little tribe are without end keen on telling us: language evolves, babes.

Gareth Roberts is a screenwriter and novelist, finest recognized for his work on Physician Who.