wikiHow to Stop Using the Word "Gay" Inappropriately

Three Methods:Correcting Your MistakeThinking Before You SpeakUnderstanding the Power of Your Words

You've may have heard yourself use the word "gay" inappropriately to describe someone or something. Whether you intended to or not, this is offensive and hurtful. Through practice and an increased awareness, you can break this habit.

Method 1
Correcting Your Mistake

  1. Image titled Stop Using the Word "Gay" Inappropriately Step 1
    Register every time you use gay in a derogatory manner. Every time you use the word gay to refer to someone or something that you don't like or think is stupid, wrong or bad in any way, take a mental note. Examine why you want to use it. What situations are you in when this usually happens?
    • Keep track of the times that you say it, think it, or almost use the word. You can even write it down.
    • If you find yourself using it when you are around certain people or discussing certain topics, you may want to limit your time in those scenarios until you get things under control. You could also be more careful in those situations because you know they trigger your use of the word.
  2. Image titled Stop Using the Word "Gay" Inappropriately Step 2
    Avoid talking about negative subjects. When "gay" is used inappropriately, it is typically to describe something that is negative, silly, or dumb. If you do not talk about these things, you will be less likely to call something "gay." Spend more time talking about good and positive things and experiences.[1]
    • If you find yourself in the middle of one of these conversations, try to think of something positive to say or change the subject.
    • It will take time to change the way you speak and the type of conversations you find yourself in.
  3. Image titled Stop Using the Word "Gay" Inappropriately Step 3
    Come up with alternative phrases or words to use. When using replacements, remember that they apply not only to spoken language, but also to writing and thinking. If you constantly challenge yourself to use alternatives, you will eventually become used to using these alternatives. The alternative words and phrases will eventually become part of your vocabulary.
    • Instead of using "gay" try using "inappropriate," "weird," "strange," "wrong," out of place," out of line," or "out of order."[2]
    • Expand your vocabulary to have more words to pull from. Having a wider knowledge of words that you have at your disposal is amazingly useful.
    • Buy yourself a thesaurus, a word-a-day calendar, or add a word-a-day widget to your browser's homepage.
  4. Image titled Stop Using the Word "Gay" Inappropriately Step 4
    Apologize immediately. You may have a slip up when you are trying to stop using the word "gay." If you do make the mistake, apologize immediately. When you apologize immediately, it shows that you are trying to change, and you are taking responsibility.[3]
    • You might say, "I'm sorry. I chose the wrong word. I meant to say ____."
    • You can also say, "I'm trying to stop saying that word. It slipped out. I'm sorry if I offended anyone. Please forgive me."
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    Stop other people from using the word inappropriately. It can be difficult to stop doing something when everyone around you is doing the same thing. Even though you are trying to stop, constantly hearing the word used casually can keep it in the back of your mind. This does not have to be done in a rude or confrontational manner. Try some of the following phrases when it happens.[4]
    • "Do you know what "gay" means?
    • "You are probably not trying to be hurtful, but using the word "gay" to describe something that is bad or stupid is hurtful. Do you know why this is hurtful?"
    • "Using the word "gay" as a put down is not okay. That is a hurtful word and affects the people around you"
    • "Could you not use that word around me? I don't think it's cool, and I'm trying to stop saying it."

Method 2
Thinking Before You Speak

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    Accept that you have power over your tongue. Before you can begin to change the words you use, recognize that you have power over the words you speak. You do not have to speak first and think later. If you have a problem with speaking before you think, you can train yourself to slow down and be more thoughtful with your words.[5]
    • Practice closing your mouth before you speak. If you are having a conversation with someone, this will force you to pause before you speak.
    • Closing your mouth as soon as you feel it opening teaches you self-control.
    • Learning to think before you speak is a process. It is a very valuable thing to learn. It will help you to not only stop using the word "gay" inappropriately, but it will also help you in many other situations in life.
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    Determine if what you are saying is true. Before you say anything, ask yourself if what you are about to say is true.[6] You know that the word "gay" has an actual definition that applies to a specific situation. Is what someone said truly "gay?" Did someone do something that was "gay?" It probably is not.
    • By choosing to speak only words that are true, you can avoid a lot of gossip and misunderstanding.
    • Asking yourself this question can also help you use a word that is more appropriate for what you are actually trying to say.
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    Ask yourself if your words are kind. What are your true intentions when you are using this word. Are you trying to express yourself? Are you trying to fit in? Are you trying to be funny? Are you trying to hurt someone? Will what you say hurt someone?[7]
    • When you describe something as "gay," you are probably not saying something that is kind or helpful.
    • If your goal is to be funny or express yourself, what other ways can you do this and still be kind? There is always an alternative.
  4. Image titled Stop Using the Word "Gay" Inappropriately Step 9
    Ask yourself if using the word is necessary. Is it important for you to say what you are saying? Do you have to say it at this particular time? Are you adding anything to the conversation? Does the other person need to hear what you are saying?[8]
    • There may be times that you should choose to be silent instead of calling something "gay." If this is the case, don't make a comment at all.
    • There may be other times that it is appropriate for you to be speaking, but you should just use a different word.
    • A good rule for deciding if what you are saying is truly necessary is to decide if what you are saying is more important than being silent.[9]

Method 3
Understanding the Power of Your Words

  1. Image titled Stop Using the Word "Gay" Inappropriately Step 10
    Know the true definition of the word. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) defines "gay" as an "adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attractions are to people of the same sex." This is the only appropriate way to use the word "gay." Any time you use the word to mean something other than this, you are using it inappropriately.[10]
    • Unless someone has told you that they are gay, do not use this word to describe them. It is not your job or business to discuss another person's sexuality.
    • Also avoid calling gay people "homosexuals." This term is considered out of date and can be offensive to gay people.
  2. Image titled Stop Using the Word "Gay" Inappropriately Step 11
    Recognize that using the word gay as a derogatory term is offensive. Using the word gay to insult something or someone implies that you think there is something wrong with being homosexual. Even if you do not believe there is something wrong with being gay, your use of "gay" in this manner suggests that you do. This can also be hurtful to people around you. You do not always know that you around a gay person or someone that has gay friends or family members.[11]
    • For gay people, constantly hearing the word "gay' used inappropriately can have a negative impact on their mental health and how they feel about themselves. You do not want to contribute to anyone's pain.
    • Using the word inappropriately can also give people the impression that you are insensitive or have an issue with people that are gay. You do not want people to think things about you that are not true.
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    Know that words have meaning regardless of your intention. Although you may not have intended to be offensive or hurt someone's feelings when you use the word "gay" as a derogatory term, the end result still remains. You cannot take back or cancel something that you have said. Even if you apologize and explain yourself, your words can still hurt.[12]
    • Your words can be used to both help and harm.
    • Your words have a life of their own once they leave your mouth. Think of your words as a living, breathing extension of yourself. What you say may stick around once you have left. For example, you may casually call something "gay," but the person may think about what you said throughout the day.


  • Don't give in to peer pressure. Just because your friends spout the term "gay" to insult people or things, it doesn't mean you should also exploit it in order to make yourself sound cool.

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Categories: LGBT