DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my best friends is gay, but our other friend still uses the word "gay" to describe things she thinks are stupid. She says our gay friend doesn't mind, but I think he does -- he would just never admit it. Should I act on my instinct and tell her she needs to stop, or should I just let it go? -- Keeping It PC, Miami
DEAR KEEPING IT PC: By all means, speak up. Words are powerful, and how we use them is important. Being insensitive to the use of a word like "gay" is actually what is stupid. (Do you see how even saying the word "stupid" is fiery? I believe in searching for uncharged words to describe feelings and thoughts.)
Talk to your friend about her choice of words and make it clear that you find her speech offensive. This is true regardless of whether she is in the company of your gay friend, by the way. It's important to acknowledge that wherever you are and no matter the company, using language in a charged way like that is unwise because it continues a narrative of insensitivity that is unkind.
Your gay friend may or may not mind. But that isn't even the point. What's key here is for your friend to recognize that words have the ability to empower or hurt. Choosing empowerment is the way to go.