Using homophobic slurs and dropping “gay” as an insult is never OK, even in the case of tyrannical world leaders.
Amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russia President Vladimir Putin has drawn condemnation from leaders around the globe. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even called him a “tyrant” who is launching a “total assault on democracy.”
On social media, meanwhile, people have been calling Putin “gay” in a seeming effort to troll the 69-year-old, who only two years ago vowed to never allow gay marriage in the country.
But on Reddit, users in the r/gay forum aren’t having it. “I think using the word as a slur is kind of insulting to other gay people, especially when Putin’s government creates homophobic law,” one person wrote earlier this month.
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So far, that person’s post has received more than 600 upvotes and more than 100 comments, with many other Redditors agreeing with the original poster.
“I think Putin’s actual epic flaws are adequate to demonize him,” one person wrote. “Using homosexuality as an insult or put-down isn’t resonating as cool to me.”
Another person said, “It honestly feels like we’ve reverted back to 2001 with ‘that’s gay’ vernacular, and it’s unfortunate.”
A third commenter, meanwhile, revealed that even today’s kids are using “gay” as a schoolyard pejorative. “My little brother is a fourth-grader, and all his friends non-stop call people gay,” that commenter wrote. “It’s annoying and disrespectful to us.”
Someone else said that they find “some peace” that people are “using [Putin’s] homophobia against him” but worry “that the difference between an insult of one man vs. a slur against the entire gay community might be too subtle for many people to understand.”
And other Redditors said that they wouldn’t want Putin on their team, anyway. “I’m all for inclusion, but that Putin boy ain’t no friend of mine/ours,” one wrote. “He doesn’t deserve the HONORIFIC of ‘gay.’”
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Some Reddit users cast dissenting votes, however, including one person who said that hearing “gay” as an insult used to make him angry. “But as a taunt to someone who is staunchly homophobic, I feel it’s kind of funny,” that commenter added. “Their way of thinking is just so irrational that it’s hilarious to throw it back in their faces and to know that it would make their blood boil.”
But most of the commenters agreed that using “gay” as an insult, even for someone like Putin, is still harmful. “Leaning in on homophobia to reticule someone just perpetuates homophobia,” one wrote.
Another added, “Yeah, guys, let’s just keep using ‘gay’ as a punchline and then complaining when other people do the same. I’m with [the original poster].”
A similar controversy stormed three years ago, too, after The New York Times posted an animated cartoon depicting a romance between Putin and then-U.S. President Donald Trump.
“Depicting public figures as gay or bi in an attempt to mock them is a damaging trend that needs to stop,” Kim Sanders, then the director of communications for British charity Stonewall, said at the time, per Reuters. “These images reinforce a harmful narrative that being LGBT is inferior or something to be ridiculed. This isn’t political satire, it’s just old-fashioned homophobia.”
If any world leader deserved demonizing, it’s Putin; and people are going to hurl insults from a very deep-seated place. So, I can understand those who are calling him “gay” as an insult. I’m pretty sure most of the people using gay in this way are homophobic themselves, and, I agree gay people should themselves be more enlightened. But with Putin killing so many and destroying so many cities, I think anything that might get through to him and his followers gets a pass for the short term.
He needs to be demonized, because he is a demon; a modern day Hitler.
I myself can’t get over how short he is – he’s the embodiment of a “Napolean complex”.
The Accidental Polemicist
“But with Putin killing so many and destroying so many cities, I think anything that might get through to him and his followers gets a pass for the short term.”
No. Do you think he really cares what people are calling him on Reddit and other platforms!?! I’m quite certain that a maniacal, narcissistic, evil dictator is not concerned about such trivial matters when there are cities to bomb and innocent people to murder.
Even when it comes to such an extreme case as madman Putin, I don’t believe we should be approving denigration with gay slurs.
Whatever your opinion or mine might be, we won’t stop people from calling Putin gay for the duration of the Russian unprovoked attack on and destruction of Ukraine, real people are dying; including loads of Russian conscripts, and of course there’s the cities and other infrastructure being blown into smithereens. All with out any rational basis. Whatever might work to demonize and dispirit Putin and/or his adherents is what I would support.
Also, based on your political views, I sincerely doubt that you are gay, so I don’t really value your opinion on this matter to the same degree that I would someone who was actually gay. And please don’t resort to doubletalk.
The Accidental Polemicist
Said the one who thinks it’s perfectly fine to denigrate gay people.
I’ve been out since 1983, out to my Mom/Dad/Grandma since 1984 – told them all on my 20th birthday.
I’ve already been a Democrat. Making the same arguments you make now. I grew up and hopefully you will too. Good luck
The right wing troll checking all the boxes.
Claiming it used to be a Democrat, etc…
Your troll game is sad and weak.
Using the term gay as an insult is and has always been wrong.
Using it for Putin is even more so.
Having said that why don’t we here about his interest in pre-adolescent boys?
We always get some handwriting article whenever there is a rabid, violent homophobe telling us why we shouldn’t mock or attack them. The same defense is trotted out every time Miss Lindsay Deveraux Christiana Dominique Graham is ever brought up.
The mockery people like Sarah Palin got from SNL blew up her political career, going After Alex Jones and mocking him helped turn him into a joke. Sarah Huckabee getting mocked and thrown out of restaurants caused her to quit as Press secretary.
Putin is a short little former office yes man who was appointed interim president because he kissed Yeltsin’s a** and was considered harmless. Now he’s a botox addicted crazy person killing children because of delusions of grandeur. If calling him “gay” upsets him, boo hoo. I’ll save my sympathies for the LGBTQ people he and his cronies have murdered.
And lastly, side note, the only people who referred to Putin as strong or smart, were the Russian media and American Republicans.
Putin should get what he has done in multitudes, to others ,
Putin is a HUGE closet case. Calling him “gay” isn’t a diss as homosexuality, it’s a diss at a coward who tries to cover his own queerness by telling others how much he hates it.