Tired of hearing people say, “that’s so gay” when they really mean that a thing is just not to their liking? Do you wish they’d say “that’s too bad,” instead? Well, Diogenes at Catholic Culture has some news for you, in a characteristically provocative post. The Oxford English Dictionary has this to say on the origins of our word “bad”:
bad-de (2 syllables) the Middle English reflex of Old English baeddel, ‘man of both genders, hermaphrodite’, doubtless like Greek androgynos, and the derivative baedling, ‘effeminate fellow, womanish man, malakos,’ applied contemptuously, assuming a later adjectival use.
Or, as Diogenes puts it, “To say it’s bad for a man to be womanish is to state a tautology: x = x. As Beowulf said to Hrothgar, That’s so gay.” He argues (and I suspect he’s right here) that this is built on a pre-moral judgment: that is, that regardless of one’s religious system, gayness seems strange and foreign innately. This certainly would seem to undermine the argument that attempts to defend traditional marriage are covert attempts to “legislate religion,” as the linguistic evidence suggests that even the Greeks(!) found something not-quite-right with the idea of homosexuality.