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Homophobia is such an abstract concept. It rears its ugly head in many forms. From the hate crimes that took the lives of many LGBT including Harvey Milk and Matthew Shepard to the so-called “innocent” school yard bullying that led to the suicide of many LGBT youth, homophobia is everywhere. You see it on TV when LGBT people are used as the punchlines of jokes. You hear it at church when your pastor tells you that we are born of the devil or are choosing some “alternative lifestyle.” You even express it yourself when you voice your opinion about the people and events in your life.

That’s right. I’m talking about saying “That’s so gay.”

Not every LGBT person is going to agree with me, and that’s okay. But whenever I hear someone say “That’s so gay,” it only reinforces certain insecurities that I have about myself; it makes me feel like all I’ll ever be is the punchline of a joke.

Please, the next time you hear someone say “That’s so gay,” remind them that we are people, too, and we deserve to get treated like everyone else. And don’t take “I didn’t mean ‘gay’ as in ‘homosexual,’ I meant it as in ‘stupid,'” for an answer. Using the label we give ourselves to express distaste with anything only perpetuates the hate. It makes people feel like it’s okay to put gays down–to make us second-class citizens.

It’s time to start respecting your fellow human beings.