A site hoping to highlight the widespread usage of casual homophobia in everyday conversation has discovered just how often derogatory terms are used in tweets.
NoHomophobes, the brainchild of the University of Alberta’s Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services (iSMSS), tracks mentions of words and phrases like “faggot,” “dyke,” and “so gay” in real time.
"The website serves as a social mirror to draw attention and conversation to the pervasive and damaging use of casual homophobia in our society,” Dr. Kristopher Wells of iSMSS told the Daily Dot.
“We hope that the website will serve an innovative way to interweave the use of social media and public education together to facilitate an important conversation on the impact of discrimination, prejudice, and hate. Words have the power to hurt, but they also have the power to heal. We want people to think before they speak and to always be mindful of the power of the language they use.”
Since the project started tracking tweets on July 5, it’s found more than 2.5 million mentions of the word “faggot.”
Last week alone, “faggot” was used more than 216,000 times in tweets, “no homo” in 92,000, “so gay” in 76,452, and “dyke” in slightly fewer than 27,000.
As part of the institute’s campaign to cut out casual homophobia, it’s encouraging Twitter users to add the #NoHomophobes hashtag to show their support. It wants people to speak out against homophobia “when it is safe to do so, in their communities, families, board rooms, schools, and locker rooms,” added Wells.
He said the institute is not implying that all those who used the terms did so with homophobic intentions, and the focus of the website is not on specific tweets or Twitter users. Rather, it “clearly demonstrates the astonishing frequency in which these words are used as part of our everyday public conversation.”
Since the site’s launch on Wednesday, more than 30,000 unique visitors have accessed it.
“The response from the twitterverse has been simply amazing,” said Wells. “99 percent of the comments have been supportive. People want to have this conversation. I saw one youth who even tweeted, "now you know my daily reality."
Photo by Guillaume Paumier/Flickr