Watch Ash Beckham Explain Why “That’s So Gay” Is So, So Wrong

Ali’s Team Pick:

This talk was given at Ignite Boulder, a presentation event that’s kind of reminiscent of TED except that the slides on your presentation automatically advance after 15 seconds, and you’re limited to 20 slides. There’s one in Boulder, C.O. every two or three months, if you’re interested. After Ash Beckham’s talk, you’ll probs be interested.

Ash takes down the use of “that’s so gay” as a pejorative. After some of my students at a French technology university said this phrase in one of our English classes, I made them sit in a circle and talk about why that wasn’t a good expression to say in English. In a solid hour of discussion I could not make this point better than this five minute video.

This video has everything: good looking presenter, flow charts, humor and a point. I laughed, I cried. It was marvelous. Play this for anyone who uses “that’s so gay” in their colloquial speech patterns. Even though this is billed as LGBTQ acceptance in schools, I’m pretty sure we know someone at every age who could benefit from this message.

Did you love it? Follow Ash on Twitter or like her on Facebook. Or both! And according to Upworthy, Ash also wants everyone to check out GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) on Facebook to help further the cause. Four for you, Ash. Four for you.

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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. Ignite is a series that happens internationally, if anyone is interested! I’ve been to the one in Fort Collins, CO and it was awesome. Speakers can apply to present whatever they’d like, but they have five minutes, 20 slides and 15 seconds per slide. No more, no less.

    You can learn more, including how to organize a local event in your town if there isn’t one already:

  2. I was so excited about Ignite that I completely forgot to mention how much I love this video, Ali. How amazing is this woman? I want to track her down and give her a hug.

  3. Love love love this. Shared it with a colleague and she used it the next day for her lesson plan.

  4. I love this video! And I definitely think that more people need to hear it, but the thing that really bugs me is the people who completely understand why it’s wrong to say, who are accepting of queer people, but who do it anyway. Sometimes they do it ‘ironically’ sometimes because they just don’t care and think that there’s no queer people around, and other times they have just gotten so used to saying it they don’t think twice. It has become so ingrained into our language, at least in high school, that words like faggot and that’s so gay, while annoying, don’t make me, or anyone else around me flinch any more. And I have noticed that a lot of gay people use it around their straight friends, so their straight friends think it’s ok to say.

    • “Sometimes they do it ‘ironically’ sometimes because they just don’t care and think that there’s no queer people around, and other times they have just gotten so used to saying it they don’t think twice. ”

      Welcome to white hipster-dom!

    • And sometimes they do it in front of you over and over again, every time going “OH WAIT OMG I’M SOOOO SORRRRRRRY” to the point where you just want them to stop talking.

  5. this was exactly what I needed today, after calling out two of my flatmates for using “thats so gay” in regards to their assignments and the choices of food for lunch, neither of which seemed to be homosexual in any way (I did ask to double check though). Thanks, Ali!

  6. i called someone childish today and he shot back (to me and my friend who has dyed hair and is very queer too) “dyed hair is so gay!”

    obviously my response was to yell back “thank you, all i’ve ever wanted to be is super super gay!”

  7. I wish I could have shown everyone that I worked in fast food with this. Everyone would say “thats so gay” and then look at me and go “oh sorry” and come back the next day and say it again. I got tired of calling them out for it. Maybe this video makes more people realize there is more than this one tired way of saying something is dumb or stupid.

  8. favorite way of calling people out on this: simply repeat what they said as, “yes, your ______ is flamingly homosexual”

    usually gets a giggle but also points out exactly what is being said.

    also points to ash not only for this talk, but for the inclusion of sesame street and peanuts in things that are literally so gay. because they are. so gay.

  9. Thank you, awesome video and so true. I recently was confronted with one of my athletes making this comment when another athlete said he used to be a figure skater and almost made it to the Olympics. He replied “that is so gay”. The athlete responded by saying “hey man be careful with your words” “That is the very reason I quit skating was my friends hassled me so much and I even got beat up once”. My 14 year old athlete apologized and said “oh I did not mean to hurt you, everyone says that”. I hesitated for a moment as his mother was on the trip and sitting there and had not said anything yet but I could not let it go as that felt like I was condoning it especially since most everyone at the table knew that I am gay and my partner had helped with coaching this team; so I also said “I know that you probably did not mean to hurt anyone but you also just insulted me”. He turned bright red in the face. Then he got upset and told all of us that we ruined his night as he would feel bad about this all night. I responded with “no we have not ruined your night but hopefully you will never forget how powerful your words can be and how hurtful”. I asked him if he liked Mary and he said YES! I said well we just celebrated our 25th anniversary two months ago. I also added “what if his best friend was sitting here, a guy who looks up to you, and lets say that he was struggling and wondering if he was gay, he would never trust telling you and eventually your friendship would end and you would not know why” I also commented that words hurt and that although this term is used every day it is no different then saying the “N” word and asked if he used that term. Again he looked horrified and said emphatically NO so I suggested he think of this term in the same way. I said you can influence in a positive way or keep the homophobia growing.
    His mother then thanked me for being so direct yet kind. It is amazing though how hard it is to speak out but I was getting looks from my other athletes who knew I was gay and knew that I just could not sit and be quiet. Thank you for not being quiet!

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