“What a Faggot!”


by Diego Zubieta,
February 7th, 2018


[aesop_content color=”#000000″ background=”#ffffff” component_width=”600px” columns=”1″ position=”none” imgrepeat=”no-repeat” disable_bgshading=”off” floaterposition=”left” floaterdirection=”up” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]“What a faggot!” exclaims someone in the common room of one of the buildings while watching a soccer game. As I sit a few meters away, I turn my head quite stunned. In my opinion, these words were supposed to stay in the English classroom as another part of the Language and Culture part of the course. At least during the time in UWC there is no reason for anyone to hear this term, right? Right? Yet, when putting more effort into searching for it, a totally different reality is found on this campus.
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In the hallways, many MYP students can be heard yelling these kinds of expressions frequently. And for some guys in the dorms one of the most amusing ways of interacting between close friends on my floor is to pick on someone “in a friendly way” by how feminine he dresses or acts. Even my shoes were “too gay” for a few. Even though a good part of us have gone through those hours of English in which the origin and reasons not to use the word were explained. Yet it seems necessary to repeat it once more….
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Faggot is a word with an unclear history. It is suspected that it comes from the Old French fagot, meaning “bundle of sticks”. If so it would have later acquired the offensive character it has today, when in the 1590s the word became an insult for women and then finally evolved in the 18th century again to be used against gay men. We have to remember that these instances occurred in a society that not only rejected gay men, but rather repudiated and found them as sinful and an act of “sodomy”. Punishment for this could include anything from prison to whipping to banishment, if not death.
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Is it really necessary to tell once more the history behind the words gay, pussy, cunt?
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It is just recently that words like “gay” or “faggot” ended up being synonyms to something repugnant or disgusting. The use of these words is very frequent in youth, and a lot of people have simply not realized the fact that behind the use of these terms there is an underlying discrimination towards the minority group of people. Moreover, many people find it difficult approaching the matter. We all come from different backgrounds, some conservative, some liberal, so talking about the topic can be very tricky. After what many considered a mediocre first attempt to have some discussion on gender identity across DP and MYP students with the presentation of Brie Mathers, the school faces a lot of work left to do in this area. It seems to me, that the burden is currently left to hands of the students in Gender Blender, being the last gender and sexuality related activity in the calendar this year, except for the much needed but nonetheless spontaneous performance of “the Vagina Monologues”.
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Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people, and moreover being part of the LGB (lesbian, gay or bisexual) spectrum implies being three times more likely to contemplate suicide in comparison to a heterosexual person, and five times more likely to have attempted it. Using terms like faggot reflects an attitude that just perpetuates negativity in this community, and even though there is a high level of tolerance in our higher year groups, the intolerance and homophobia spread by the ones who know little about the theme could result in harm to all the young people struggling with their sexuality. And even beyond that, spreading such messages of hostility around the world seems to somehow go against the positive change that the UWC movement looks for.
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Do not take this article as an accusation against you, a victimization by part of the LGBTQA+ community or another reminder of how much we need to follow our core values. One can be certain that not everybody uses such terms in this way. And even if the UWC movement seeks to promote “Mutual responsibility and respect” this is not only about that. This is a call for reflection of one’s word choices as well as our treatment toward our peers, in search of creating a safer and more welcoming environment in our school for everyone.

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Illustration by Prune Engérant

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