All Children's Hospital Logo

Health Information Library

Teens > Q&A > Friends > What Can I Say When Friends Use Anti-Gay Language?
What Can I Say When Friends Use Anti-Gay Language?

Some of my 'friends' say things like, "You're so gay right now" and "That's so gay!" All the time. I don't want to be friends with someone like that, but I still don't want to cut them out of my life. What should I do?
- Sabi*

Sometimes hurtful, offensive expressions make their way into everyday language. Some of the people who say these things also have intolerant attitudes — but not always.

Unfortunately, people often use expressions like these thoughtlessly, without meaning to offend anyone. That doesn't make the words any less harmful or rude. But it's possible that your friends aren't aware of how offensive their words really are or the negative attitudes those words reflect.

Start by talking to just one of these friends. Explain that the phrases are offensive and rude, even though they may not be meant that way. Ask your friend to help you influence the others to stop using these expressions. Then, when you're in the group and someone says one of these things, speak up with calm confidence. Say something like, "Let's cut out the anti-gay phrases — they're ugly and unfair, whether you mean it or not."

Don't be surprised if you get some pushback. Your friends may tease you to try to make you feel bad for speaking up. They might say things like, "You're such a goody-goody" or "You're too sensitive." Don't let that throw you off. Stand your ground. Have a calm comeback ready, like, "No, I'm telling you what I really believe and what I know is fair." Or, "You can't change my mind by teasing me." Or, "You guys don't realize how bad these things sound. What you're saying is so 1990s. We're over that kind of prejudiced language now."

If your friends push back with teasing and comments, you also can choose not to respond at all. Just make sure you stay calm and confident, and don't let it ruffle you. You may notice that the offensive language disappears from the conversation because you mentioned it. The friend you asked to help may back you up.

It's good that you recognize the message these words convey, and that you want to stand up for fairness. A change for the better can start with one person — like you!

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: January 2014

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

Related Articles
T    5 Ways to (Respectfully) Disagree
T    How Can I Help Someone Who's Being Bullied?
T    I Hurt My Friends' Feelings. What Should I Do?
T    Sexual Harassment and Sexual Bullying
T    Understanding Other People
T    What It Means to Be a Friend
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.

Additional Info

Pocket Doc Mobile App
Maps and Locations (Mobile)
Programs & Services
Employment
For Health Professionals
For Patients & Families
Contact Us
Find a Doctor
News
CME

All Children's Hospital
501 6th Ave South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 898-7451
(800) 456-4543

Use Normal Template
© 2014 All Children's Hospital - All Rights Reserved