Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Controversial Canadian PSA Asks Why “Faggot” Still Considered Acceptable Word




A Canadian website showing the prevalence of homophobic language has been garnering international attention for months. Now, the University of Alberta team behind the “No Homophobes” campaign has launched a Public Service Announcement. The edgy PSA is now being broadcast in Alberta, and aims to stop the use of anti-gay slurs that can be devastating to those in the LGBTQ community. In July 2012, the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services (iSMSS) at the University of Alberta launched www.nohomophobes.com – a website that tracks homophobic words on Twitter in real-time. The site has tracked more than 6 million tweets containing the word “faggot” since its July launch. The online campaign has already earned international media attention. “Homophobic language is the most commonly, derogatory language used today but the least addressed by teachers and many adults,” says Dr. Kristopher Wells with the iSMSS. “When I first saw those numbers first start to come in on the website, I thought we might get a couple hundred tweets a day, not in the tens of thousands,” adds Wells. The iSMSS is now behind a PSA that began airing on television in December, with the hope of increasing public awareness about homophobia and “casual homophobia.” Wells says, “Words have the possibility to shape people’s identities, their realities, and possibilities for the future,” and explains that many people who use the slurs don’t consider themselves homophobic. However, the use of these terms and their prevalence in society is destructive. “That’s what leads to youth feeling isolated and alienated and tragically, in some cases, youth suicide. We know that Canada has one of the highest suicide rates in the western world.” According to Wells, sexual minorities are also one of the three most targeted groups for hate crimes in the country, and of all hate crimes committed; those against sexual minorities are the most violent in nature. The new television commercial questions why slandering words like faggot, dyke and homo are still used. The PSA is a 30 second spot that bleeps out several words deemed offensive except for the words “gay faggot”, which prompts viewers to question why the use of homophobic language is still used in society and sometimes even accepted. The PSA was created by Calder Bateman and the production was donated by Global Television. “We are proud to be part of this campaign,” says Tim Spelliscy, Senior Regional Director for Global News Edmonton and the Prairie Region. “This is a pressing social issue that has been swept under the surface for far too long.” Wells says, “It’s not ok to target other people because of their differences because diversity and difference are our greatest strength as a society. It’s what makes us resilient, vibrant and able to adapt and change. It’s our biggest asset,” adding, “The use of casual homophobia must end. We are all responsible to stop it. The lives of our youth and the humanity of our society depends on it.”

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