‘Hey, fags!’ Who can say the word ‘faggot’? And who can’t?

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Do these words hold power over us? Or do we decide? Plus, who can say it anyway?

By CIARAN R MAIDWELL

Our youth is marked by the tragedy of having to keep a secret. And then most of us, sadly not all, are able to move past this and come out.

But, there is one good thing that comes of this – a shared experience. Whatever our differences, we have all had the experience of growing up gay, of keeping a secret, of being called names that hurt. In one way or another, we have all been called a “faggot”. 

Which is why, when my close friend walked into brunch – let’s call him James – and greets us with, “What’s up, faggots?” there are a range of immediate, emotional responses, ranging from a nonchalant “Hey, bitch,” to an offended, “What did you just say?” and a vehement “You can’t say that!” 

Which got me thinking, who is allowed to say “faggot”, if anyone? And if anyone is allowed to say it, are there certain preconditions that have to be met? Can it only be used in specific contexts? Could someone be a proud faggot? 

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