Q: Hispanic presidential candidate Bill Richardson was recently accused of using the slur against homosexuals maricón, faggot. He said he used it in a playful manner, that where he comes from it is not insulting. What does maricón really mean? What’s the etymology?
A: It means homosexual. It also means lacking spirit or aggressiveness. Maricón derives from Maria. It's the diminutive form used euphemistically for women. Since medieval times it has been used for homosexuals in Romance languages. Governor Richardson is partly right in saying that it’s not offensive in some Spanish-speaking communities. It all depends who says it, and under what circumstances. Playing soccer, for instance, if you miss a clear goal, your teammates will exclaim: Qué maricón, hermano! Literally: What a fogget you are, brother! But what they really meant was: how can you miss, brother? In this case it has nothing to do with sexual orientation.
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