Frank Abate abatefr at EARTHLINK.NET
Fri Jun 13 18:52:26 UTC 2003

Arnold Z said:

as for "fag(got)", i'm on record, in the june issue of Out magazine,
as being in favor of reclaiming it too.  actually, i report on its
ongoing reclamation, and also on other semantic changes.  i myself
have no problem with its use in front of, or by, outsiders, so long as
i recognize them as basically friendly.  once again, there are those
who object to any such use; one spokesperson for GLAAD is even on
record as maintaining that the word should be banned, not used by
*anyone*, but, i think, this position strikes most lgb people as

Not too long ago someone in the "mainstream" music business clearly had a
problem with _faggot_ in lyrics.  In the Dire Straits hit song "Money For
Nothin'" (with the famous refrain "I want my MTV"), the second verse went:

The little faggot with the earring and the makeup,
Yeah buddy, that's his own hair,
That little faggot's got his own jet airplane,
That little faggot is a millionaire.

In some versions of the song, as played sometimes on the radio, and as
released on some CDs (there were several different collections with the
song), this verse was absent from the song, and was not given in the printed

I believe the hit was in the early 1980s.  I have both versions, bowdlerized
and not.

So it's OK to say "nigga" in lyrics if you're black, but (for some) it was
not OK to say "faggot" if used of and not by a (fictively) gay person.

I suppose that is a long way from the 1967 bowdlerization of Van Morrison's
"Brown Eyed Girl" where the line:

Makin' love in the green grass behind the stadium with you.

was apparently WAY too explicit for some folks in New England.  There are
two versions of that song, one with the original line (that's how I always
heard it in Ohio, when I grew up), and one (which I first heard on a Rhode
Island station) with a replacement line, one dubbed in from earlier in the
song.  I expect that was a local-market change.

Frank Abate

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