Awesome Photo Project Calls Out Slurs We're All Guilty of Using Jennifer Still

We’re all human, and we all make mistakes. While most of us try to be good people, to treat each other with kindness and respect on a daily basis, there may be ways in which we’re falling short that we’re not even aware of – a new photo project by Duke University’s LGBT group, Blue Devils United, and student activist group Think Before You Talk – is calling attention to it.

“You Don’t Say” is a new image-based initiative launched by the university in order to remind students of the power the language they choose. Using seemingly innocuous phrases like “no homo” and “that’s so gay” or referring to women as “bitches” may seem like normal, harmless fun, but in actuality those words are rooted in misogyny and homophobia – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

so gay

Duke’s project invited students to be photographed holding signs with words they find to be offensive, as well as explaining why they can be so problematic to those who may be unaware. As participant Abhi Sanka explained, “I don’t say no homo because it delegitimizes love and sexual identities. This campaign strives first to instill understanding of how words can make a difference in shaping identities.”

You Don’t Say pushes us to think more critically about the way we speak both to and about each other, and hopefully can help to make us more aware of things that might hurt or offend those around us – and things that might carry a deeper, more damaging history to marginalized groups of all kinds. Awareness is key, and it’s the first step towards making a change for the better.

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  1. no matter how hard a person tries not to offend someone, there will always be someone who is offended. Life is too short to be walking on eggshells. I was born with a cleft lip and palate, the term hair lip is degrading but still used often, but once I learned no matter how hard I try to educate people not to use this term, someone will always be using it. I just figure forget them it, it’s just a word it doesn’t define me, let them use it, and now when I hear the term used, it doesn’t bother me. Realize there are ignorant people, and don’t let them bring you down.

  2. @dale I really hope you’re joking

  3. Good luck to the Blue Devils United, they have an uphill battle to try and change these ingrained behaviors, but our culture will certainly be the better for it if we can start treating each other with a little more respect.

  4. I don’t like when they say sexual preference…. I was born gay…I don’t prefer to have a sexual preference…it is who I am.

    • I’m born straight, therefore I prefer to have a woman then men as a sex partner, thus sexual preference. I think the term has no problem and pretty consistent with what it conveys.

    • You said “I don’t prefer to have a sexual preference”. . . That just means that you don’t like having a sexual preference. Following it up with “It is who I am” is literally enforcing the idea that you believe you do have a sexual preference.

      Maybe this was a grammar mistake on your part, but I hope it allows you to cut the people using it some slack, considering you accidentally ended up using it yourself. Chances are they didn’t mean to be any more offensive or have any more implications than you did. You yourself did not realize what you were saying and how even slight errors in word choice changed the meaning of your statement, likely neither do they.

      Personally I would say as a straight woman my sexual preference is men, and I was born that way. If I could choose I would be bisexual, as I feel it to be wonderful to be able to be attracted to anybody, but I was born preferring men and it is not something I can change. Vocabulary of the English language does not make preference and choice mutually exclusive. Instead of feeling insulted over debatable definitions of words that are only the fault of the people who created the dictionary why not look at the overarching message they are trying to get across?

    • Dale, totally agree with you, and someone else did too because on their campaign page, they’ve changed the image to state “Sexual Orientation” rather than “Sexual Preference”.

  5. I never said those things!!!!

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