Like everyone else, I also enjoyed the question session with Dan Savage and the following lecture. I was pleasantly surprised because, honestly, I didn't think I would learn much of anything from it. I thought the conversation would stay very surface level. I mean the message is "It gets better," and bullying those different is bad. I get that. But, particularly in our personal session with him, a ton of things I hadn't even considered came up.
My specific subject this blog is spurred by the one of the few responses he gave that I found inadequate. I had wanted to ask this in our class and was thrilled when it got brought up in the general session. However, I think a combination of nervousness at the divisive topic, combined with the lecture moving to a close, led him to an unsatisfactory answer. The topic is the use of pejorative gay terms and how he feels about their use (fag, queer, etc...). While the individual asking clearly expected a clean-cut "Don't say that" answer, Dan was vaguely supportive of their use.
My best friend and roommate the first two years of College was and still is gay. We used gay slurs at each other all the time-sometimes jokingly, but other times only using the negative connotations, not the gay connotations. This has, by the way, caused me many problems later on in public since, instead of being trained against casual slur use by the friend you'd think would, I was encouraged. But I wonder if it is actually better to cut those words out of our vocabulary? I feel like that does the same thing as segregating swear words from the masses, it places their value on a pedestal. All of those words are symbols we place on other things. None originally meant gay (even gay). I think that use of them in more acceptable ways could actually diffuse their meaning, devalueing, rather than empowering them.
Now I'm not sure if this was Dan's reason for not disparaging these words. After all, as Dan loved to reiterate, he is a dirty sex columnist, and I imagine those words can be quite useful in that line. However, what do you think? Do we need to eradicate this language to help eradicate the thoughts often behind it? Or can we water the language down and steal its power out from under it?