A Tumblr user wrote today:
this is like when the lgbt community gets really, really angry about the word ‘gay’. Is it privileged and bigoted? Yes. Are you really getting anything done by yelling at straight people (and gay people) that use the word? No. You are just pissing people off and turning them off your cause, even the people that should, by all rights, be PART of your cause.
The use of “gay” as an insult is an issue that’s important enough to take a stand on even if it does cost us potential allies. When we tell people that it’s hurtful and harmful for them to use the very word we’re named as a synonym for anything and everything that’s negative and dislikable, that is a matter of basic respect. It is probably about as basic as this can possibly get: don’t use who we are to mean something bad. Taking a minority group’s name for your own use as an all-occasions pejorative is not merely disrespectful – it’s just about the most obvious way that you can tell us, “WE THINK WHAT YOU ARE IS BAD.”
If that isn’t what you mean to convey, then you need to stop using language in such a way that you openly associate the very names of minorities with everything you dislike. This goes beyond merely implying that gay people are bad. It’s tantamount to stating it outright. Is it okay to say that someone “Jewed” you out of something? Or that something that isn’t working must be “n*****-rigged”? Would any amount of “I didn’t mean it like that” rationalization make that alright? No one should ever think this is acceptable, yet so many people are under the impression that it’s a-okay to do this to gay people. Why? Because it’s a more recent development in language? Because social disapproval of this usage isn’t widespread enough yet? Because they just really like using the word? It doesn’t matter. It’s not okay.
If being asked to stop using our identity as an insult is all it takes to alienate potential allies, let me make it very clear that I do not care. I do not intend to sacrifice my own self-respect just to gain the support of people who can’t even bring themselves to listen to us and respect us in this most basic and minimal way. Are those the allies we want? Can they even be called allies in any meaningful sense?